Peter Filanc, CEO of J.R. Filanc Construction Co., an Escondido, Calif., design-build and engineering firm, died of cancer May 9. He was 54.


Filanc, who took over the firm his father, Jack, co-founded in 1952, had previously served as president since 1990. He joined as a superintendent in 1979. Peter’s brother, Mark, was recently named president. The CEO position will not be filled immediately, says a spokeswoman for the firm, which specializes in water and wastewater treatment plant construction.

“Peter had a true talent for understanding what our company would need to do in order to grow and prosper,” says Jack Filanc. “He knew where the entire industry needed to go in order to be ready to meet the water and wastewater treatment needs of the future. "He built a strong infrastructure at J.R. Filanc Construction that has supported our growth from a small operation to a $150-million company. Thanks to his foresight, we are well positioned to continue building on our strengths."

Mark Filanc adds that "Peter was a naturally great leader, visionary, innovator, and mentor who set an energetic pace every day of his life.” He was an inspiration to his family members, friends, and business associates, and he was also a role model for the more than 300 individuals employed at J.R. Filanc Construction Co.”

Peter Filanc also created a new undergraduate program in construction engineering and management at San Diego State University’s College of Engineering that will graduate its first students this fall. "Peter never stopped pushing until the program was established,” says Harry Cosmos, Filanc vice president of construction operations. “He wanted to be sure that San Diego-area construction companies would always have a pool of well educated, homegrown professionals available to hire."

Filanc was also former chairman of the Construction Education Committee for the Associated General Contractors of America and helped develop its construction project manager course, which the company says now graduates hundreds of project managers each year. Filanc also served as president of AGC’s San Diego chapter in 2002 and received its highest honor, the AGC SIR Award—at the time only the 18th construction-industry leader to be so honored in the group’s 76-year history.

Filanc was an early user of and advocate for design-build, chairing the Design-Build Institute of America’s wastewater symposium in the 1990s and testified before California’s state senate when the state was considering allowing the use of design-build for public construction.

Filanc holds a civil engineering master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley.