Chances are, if you’ve driven almost anywhere in Utah on Interstate 80 or flown into Salt Lake City International Airport, you’ve used roads and tarmac paved by Mont Wilson.
Wilson, now a part-time consultant for Granite Construction Co., Salt Lake City, has worked in the Utah paving industry for more than 45 years—and laid down a lot of asphalt across the state during that time.
In his 20-year tenure at Granite, Wilson oversaw the company’s Portable Paving Division as division manager and helped to lead the expansion of Granite, headquartered in Watsonville, Calif., into the Beehive State. He supervised some of the company’s largest paving projects, including the western segments of I-80, and put in place about $20 million a year in paving for Granite.
He has also been a steady mentor and teacher, showing dozens of young engineers and employees how highway work can be done better, faster and cheaper. He used his early experience as an estimator to fine-tune paving and business operations for his employers and always put safety, honesty and quality first.
For those reasons, Mountain States Construction magazine is honoring Wilson with its second annual Intermountain Legacy Award, given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the local construction industry and the community.
“This industry has been good to me,” Wilson says. “I like the outdoor work, the people are friendly and we’ve had a good time doing some important public projects. I like to do things that matter.”
Wilson got his first taste of highway work on summer jobs with the Utah Dept. of Transportation while he was working on his civil engineering degree at Brigham Young University. He liked the work so much that he went to work for UDOT for a couple of years after graduation, then moved on to J.B. Parson Construction, where he learned the business of estimating.
He spent 10 years there, until the company morphed into Staker Paving in the 1980s. He counts then company president Val Staker as one of his mentors. “He’s the one who taught me about the business of paving,” Wilson says.
He moved on Gibbons & Reed, where Ken Reed, another mentor, taught him more about the engineering side of the business. Gibbons & Reed transitioned into the Utah branch of Granite Construction in the early ‘90s. “It was a good fit,” Wilson says. “Both companies had similar philosophies—hard-working, honest, ethical firms.”
Wilson has remained at Granite since then, building its mobile paving division into one of the most productive paving units in the West. A lifelong Utahan, Wilson’s only span of time outside the state was a year of Army Reserve service in Vietnam in 1968.
His colleagues give him high marks for teaching them about responsibility, accountability and integrity in a tough, competitive business. “The man knows everything there is to know about this business,” says Abdi Fatemi, senior estimator at Granite and a colleague of Wilson’s for 27 years. “He’s on top of his game. I have learned something new about this business from him every day, and he always takes the time to teach and explain. It isn’t just about the money and margins for Mont.”
Wilson plans to continue working a few days a week for Granite while spending more time with his wife Maurine of 53 years, his kids and grandkids.
“I’ve been on the road a lot for work, so I don’t like to travel all that much any more. Utah is a great place to be,” he says.
Mont Wilson, 72Birthplace: Payson, Utah
Granite Construction Co.
Years in the industry: 45
Education: B.S. in civil engineering, BYU
Family: Wife Maurine (53 years) and four grown children, Janette, Mike, Richard and Michelle; 10 grandchildren