Two U.S. construction CEOs who had headed sector-leading firms in their industry niches, died of cancer last month, both before age 65; a third former contractor business unit chief died in a freak car accident in Canada at 69.
Steven B. Blake, former CEO of the North American unit of Netherlands-based consulting giant Arcadis NV, died of pancreatic cancer on Jan. 16 in Hayden, Colo. at age 59, the company said. David H. Mardigian, CEO of demolition contractor MCM Industrial Services LLC, died Jan. 9 of colon cancer in Royal Oak, Mich., at age 64, that firm confirmed.
And, Paul P. Koenderman, former chief of the industrial-energy group at Toronto-based Aecon Group Inc., the country's largest publicly-traded contractor, died on Jan. 27 of injuries suffered when his car was hit by wheels that flew off a truck on a highway north of the city. He was 69.
Blake, who joined Arcadis in the 1990s with its purchase of noted groundwater consultant Geraghty & Miller, became CEO soon after of what became the Dutch firm's Colorado-based U.S. operation. He remained CEO until he stepped down because of illness in 2013.
The company says during Blake’s tenure, Arcadis grew organically and through strategic mergers and acquisitions.
He oversaw the 2005 purchase of Syracuse, N.Y.-based environmental firm Blasland, Boucke & Lee (BBL), with 900 employees and revenue of $170 million at the time. Several year later, Arcadis took a major step into the east coast with its purchase of water sector specialist Malcolm Pirnie of White Plains, N.Y. Blake said that despite recession impacts at the time affecting municipal work, the combined firm booked over $100 million of new work together.
Regionally, Blake said he saw the Northeast as a stable bet because the market had ongoing infrastructure needs and steadier spending patterns.
"Steve ... was able to see both the bigger strategic picture but also understood the operational details to make it happen," says Neil McArthur, ARCADIS global CEO in Holland. "His plan for Arcadis North America was hugely successful, growing our business five times and profitability 10 times over a 10 year period."
Arcadis U.S. now ranks at No. 13 on ENR's Top 500 Design Firms list, reporting $1.49 billion in 2014 revenue.
Mardigian, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer last winter, began his career in the demolition field in 1966 as a summer laborer and founded his West Bloomfield, Mich., company in 1993.
Over the years, MCM has been involved in a number of high-profile site decommissioning and demolition projects, including Tiger Stadium in Detroit, Mich.; General Motors’ Lansing, Mich., assembly plant; and the sprawling R.G. Steel Sparrows Point former steel mill complex in Baltimore, Md.
MCM ranks 166th on ENR’s Top 600 Specialty contractors list and fifth among demolition contractors. In 2014, the firm reported $115 million in revenue.
Koenderman, who held roles as executive chairman of the AECON industrial group and corporate executive vice president, is credited with building its energy sector unit. He joined the firm in 2003 after a 35-year career at Babcock & Wilcox Canada, now BWXT Canada Ltd., at which he was president.
"Paul was instrumental in the foundational development of Aecon’s nuclear business, while also driving the substantial growth of our energy segment in western Canada," said Aecon CEO Teri McKibben in a statement. Aecon reported $1.9 billion in 2014 revenue and is set to report its latest year-end results on March 1.
Koenderman also had been board chair of the Canadian Nuclear Association and of the University of Waterloo in Ontario.