Ray Dones, Champion of Minority Contractors, Dies

Raymon P. Dones, a contractor and industry activist who paved the way for minority contractors in construction, died on March 25 in Oakland, Calif. He was 93 and died of natural causes, says his son, Alan Dones, managing principal of Strategic Urban Development Alliance, a locally based developer.

A former Pullman porter who gained a contractor's license, the elder Dones founded in 1953 the Aladdin Electric Co., which became the largest black-owned electrical contractor, says the alliance. He then founded Trans-Bay Engineers and was its CEO until he retired in 1984.

In 1970, the firm entered into what the developer says was the first joint venture with a “majority firm,” Turner Construction Co., building office buildings in Oakland. In response to union pressure to organize, he co-founded the National Association of Minority Contractors and was its first president. In 1999, ENR recognized Dones as one of its Top 125 People of the past 125 Years.

“Ray Dones was a visionary and a ‘servant leader’ who relished his protege's accomplishments,” says Paul King, a retired Chicago minority contractor. “He was always interested in training young blacks into the industry and saw the black contractor as the vehicle to do so. He was shrewd enough to incorporate NAMC as a 501 c3-educational organization, and not a trade group or lobbying group.” The group now has about 6,000 members.

Dones was also an inventor with three patents in hi-fideity acoustics ad automotive engineering, says Alan Dones. He was also a board member of the National Urban League and the University of California Regents board of advisors, among other community and national groups.


German Crane Maker Erich Sennebogen Dies

Erich Sennebogen Sr., founder of a farm equipment maker that became Sennebogen Maschinenfabrik GmbH, a German innovator of crawler and hydraulic construction cranes with revenue of more than $425 million, died on March 21 of cancer at age 79.