For the second year of the Legacy Award program, ENR Southeast recognizes one of the Atlanta area’s most well-known and respected builders, Bill Pinto. As people who know the retired leader of the former Hardin Construction Co. can attest, Pinto certainly meets the Legacy Award’s criteria for an award recipient to “have established a solid ‘legacy’ of lifetime service to the A/E/C industry and to their colleagues—true professionals who have gone above and beyond for decades.”
In a 39-year tenure with Hardin Construction Co., Pinto served as chief operating officer and principal before retiring as president in 2013, shortly before DPR Construction acquired the Atlanta-based builder. Over that time, Pinto not only guided the former Ira H. Hardin Co.—the firm’s name when he joined the contractor in 1974—into one of the Southeast’s more prominent and respected construction companies, he also built a personal reputation for service to industry organizations and community groups.
That approach led to a long history of involvement with the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) organization, at both the state and national levels. Bill Anderson, president and CEO of ABC’s Georgia chapter, got to know Pinto well during the Hardin chief’s extensive involvement with the group, including as chairman and board member for many years.
“Bill is one of the most committed and passionate individuals I have ever worked with during my entire professional career,” Anderson says, calling him a “mentor and role model” for himself and others. “His professionalism and work ethic were truly out of this world and always motivated me to do more.”
Another person who worked closely with Pinto over the years was Pat Rodgers, president and CEO of Charlotte-based Rodgers Builders—and a Legacy Award winner in 2015. The pair of contractor executives got to know each other over the course of roughly a dozen projects that the two companies pursued and built together as Rodgers Hardin.
“One thing I always enjoyed about working with Hardin and Bill Pinto … was that both organizations were always focused on what’s the best thing for the client,” Rodgers says. “I always respected Bill, and he would always listen.”
Rodgers, a recent chair of the Construction Users Roundtable, says her respect for Pinto—whom she calls a “good friend and colleague”—and his approach to business led her to recommend him for membership in the group.
Record of Service
Pinto’s long list of industry engagements illustrates that assessment. In 1996, he helped lead the then-fledgling Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA), a nonprofit education foundation that he, and others, helped get started to address the industry’s craft training needs. Originally connected with ABC and its Wheels of Learning curriculum, today the group is independent of any trade association and works with Associated General Contractors and other groups.
Though it no longer provides craft training, CEFGA is focused on connecting contractors with future workers in any way it can. Basically, Pinto says, “It creates the environment for highlighting what the industry can do and how you can make a very good living in construction if you’re willing to work hard.”
With CEFGA, Pinto’s involvement reflected a career-long passion about the importance of education for industry members, and for all people.
“I was always into [self-improvement] and training and education in general, and always trying to learn,” Pinto says. “I tried to instill that into the folks who worked with me and for me, so we could always provide a better service to our customers.”
That passion similarly took Pinto into a long-term relationship with Atlanta Technical College. Formerly chairman of that school’s board of trustees—where he has spent 10 years as an active member—Pinto is now involved with its foundation board, and was recognized as Volunteer of the Year in 2010.
“All of the technical colleges in the state of Georgia are truly transformative, so it’s been a truly rewarding experience to see how lives are changed,” Pinto says. “That connection was always important to me.”
His passion for industry education activities had previously led him to be involved with the National Center for Construction Education and Research
(NCCER), a leading industry education center located near Gainesville, Fla., for which he eventually served as chairman.
The University of Florida, also located in Gainesville, is Pinto’s alma mater. He originally attended the university in 1964 to seek a degree in architecture but left for the military before graduating. He returned in 1971, this time to pursue a degree in construction. That stint extended until 1974, when he left UF with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s from the university’s M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction.
Twenty-four years later, in 1998, Pinto was inducted into the University of Florida’s Construction Hall of Fame after receiving the “Distinguished Builder Award” from the Rinker school, which recognized his “dedication to construction excellence, his active support of the industry and his outstanding civic and community involvement.”
Today, Pinto sees that times have changed and wonders whether younger workers are as interested or aware of the merits of community service.
“It’s a much more difficult sell,” he says. “It certainly takes personal time, and I think the younger generation thinks of their personal time differently” than older generations may have.
“As construction companies, we are very visible, so I always thought it was necessary for our folks to be part of the communities that we’re in,” Pinto says.