As part of the premier issue of ENR Southeast, a new regional section of ENR, we are proud to introduce “Top 20 Under 40.” It highlights the exceptional players working in the Southeast’s A/E/C industry and will take its place alongside our rankings of contractors, designers and projects. However, rather than focusing on firms, this list focuses on people, specifically the Southeast A/E/C industry’s up-and-coming leaders. They are well worth getting to know.

ENR Southeast solicited nominations from readers who were free to nominate themselves or other people who had made an impression on them. Nominees had to be located in the four-state region of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, and they had to be under the age of 40. The final choices for the list were selected from about 50 nominees.

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ENR Southeast's 2012 Top 20 Under 40

After nominations were closed, a panel of industry representatives was assembled to review and score the nominees. These judges included Cheryl Maze, with TLC Engineering for Architecture, Orlando; Bill Anderson, president of Associated Builders & Contractors, Georgia; David Page, senior vice president with Rodgers Builders, Charlotte, N.C.; Denny Terrell, executive vice president with Ivey Mechanical, Kosciusko, Mississippi; and Mike Dominici with the Circle Group in Alpharetta, Ga.

The brief descriptions for each of our Top 20 don’t do justice to the breadth of their accomplishment, work ethic and dedication. You only have to think of Lee Johnson’s story: He had just completed coursework for his master’s degree when he applied for a job at a fledgling company called Cox Schepp Construction in Charlotte, N.C. The firm rejected Johnson, but he didn’t accept the brush-off. Johnson’s perseverance paid off when Cox Schepp hired him to the humble position of assistant project manager. Within four years, he became a senior project manager. Now, at 33 years old, his title is division president. In the pages that follow, read about Johnson and the other rising designers and contractors in the Southeast.

Brian AllenBrian Allen
President of family company where he worked summers as a youth
37, President
Precision Walls Inc.
Cary, N.C.

Brian Allen grew up in his family’s business, North Carolina-based Precision Walls, where over 20 years ago he learned to install drywall and demountable partitions as well as other aspects of the trade by working for different foremen each summer. He’s been serving as the company president for seven years, growing it into one of the Southeast’s largest.

Greg BlinstonGreg Blinston
Repeat clients insist that he lead their projects
37, Senior Project Manager
BE&K Building Group
Greenvile, S.C.

Blinston joined BE&K Building Group’s scheduling department in 1999 and has been promoted several times, earning the respect of clients—in fact, they ask that he be put in charge of their next projects. He led work on a $36-million, design-build contract for a new operations facility in Knoxville for SYSCO Food Services.

Chris FayChris Fay
Oversaw $20-million project when he was just 22
29, Director of Business Development
The Harper Corp., General Contractors
Greenvile, S.C.

Giving a 22-year-old full responsibility for a $20-million multi-use project may sound risky. A Clemson graduate, Fay applied his ambition, persistence, and communication and organizational skills at Harper to successfully guide the development to completion. Over the next four years, he used his leadership skills and managed more than $50 million worth of projects.

Dan FinchDan Finch
Led proposal team for high-profile biotechnology project
36, Director of Preconstruction
Suffolk Construction Co.
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Finch is a civil engineer with a degree from North Carolina State University. The Durham, N.C., native built up his expertise in operations before moving to preconstruction work. “I may get a client to spend $100,000 on preconstruction, but our hard work in this phase can save them $1 million,” he says. He led a team that developed the proposal and established the design-build team for the LEED Silver certified, 108,000-sq-ft Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies project, which helped Suffolk win future bio-tech bids.

P.J. GoodwinP.J. Goodwin
Supporter of employee education and training
38, President
Coastal Mechanical Co.
Melbourne, Fla.

P.J. Goodwin joined Coastal Mechanical Co. as a project manager in training and quickly showed his ambition and natural leadership abilities. “His work ethic to push for the best in himself and those around him is incredible,” says Sue Holland, human resources director for Coastal Mechanical. Since becoming president, he’s initiated education and leadership training programs. A strong believer in craftspeople attaining their journey-level licenses, Goodwin supports study groups, supplies books and reimburses employees for their exam fees.

Matthew R. GuldenMatthew R. Gulden
Took a leave of absence to work as an engineering intern
37, Division Leader
The Haskell Co.
Jacksonville, Fla.
To further his career at the design-build firm, Gulden took a leave of absence from his project management job to work as an engineering intern and eventually attain his engineering license. He led the Jaguars Stadium rehab and now heads the firm’s general industrial unit.