If you want to find a 7-11 store in Salt Lake City, just ask John Cameron.
Cameron, the CEO of Salt Lake’s Cameron Construction Co., knows most of the city’s 7-11’s inside and out. He built 55 of them in only four years as his small contracting business grew from a small $600K - $1 million operation into one of the city’s most-respected midsize general contractors doing a thriving $23 million-$26 million a year.
The firm that Cameron founded 36 years ago now specializes in offices, churches, retail, warehouses and tenant-finish projects. One of the firm’s signature projects is the renovation of the historic Kearns-Saint Ann School for the Catholic Church. This renovation was phased over nine years and received the Excellence in Construction Award from the national Associated Builders and Contractors.
His firm has dozens of other repeat clients, including a long association with Garff Enterprises Inc., which owns multiple car dealerships around the Intermountain area.
John Cameron gives most of the credit to his people. “I’m only as good as the people working for me. We support each other, and I treat them the way I would want to be treated. I think that’s why many of them have stayed with us for so long.” Two superintendents have worked at Cameron for 23 years, another employee for 26 years and one that recently retired was with the company for 32 years. “Almost as long as I’ve been here,” Cameron says.
But Cameron’s hundreds of local projects are not his real legacy to the city and the local construction industry. At 69, he is slowly phasing into semi-retirement at Cameron Construction, but he continues to help the community in the many ways he has for decades.
He served in the U.S. military for 28 years and retired as a colonel and the first Inspector General for the Utah National Guard.
Throughout the years, he has also worked in many other community organizations. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake and on the Salt Lake Community College Construction Trades Advisory Council. The Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce honored him with its Giant Step Small Business Award for Community Service for 2002.
Cameron has also been a lifelong contributor to the Boy Scouts of America. He has served as Scout Master and Explorer Leader and on various committees for the district and the Great Salt Lake Council. In 1995 he received the Silver Beaver Award recognizing his lifelong service to the scouting organization.
Cameron has also been a leader within the local construction industry. He helped establish the Associated Builders and Contractors of Utah in 1978 and served as its president in 1982. During that time, he helped ABC influence the state of Utah and the Intermountain Power Project to allow open-shop bidding on a key project. That helped lay the groundwork for Utah becoming a right-to-work state.
“I’m not anti-union and never have been,” he says. “We use plenty of union subs on our jobs. I just believe strongly in the merit-shop philosophy.”
Cameron continues to support ABC today. He received the 30-Year Membership Award from the Utah ABC last year, recognizing him for his long-term commitment to the health of the local construction industry.
“I can’t say that construction was in my blood because my father wasn’t a contractor; he was a teacher,” Cameron says. “But from the time I started working with my uncles on their jobsites when I was in college, I knew that I liked the work and enjoyed seeing the results of what I did every day. How many other professions can you say that about?”