John R. “Rick” Forrester, founder and principal of Forrester Construction Co. Inc., Rockville, Md., died on Aug. 29 in an undisclosed Virginia location. The cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, a spokesman for the state Medical Examiner confirmed to ENR. Forrester was 55.
A memorial service for him is set for Friday, Oct. 10, at 4:00pm at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 6301 River Road, Bethesda, Md., says the company.
The 200-employee building contractor is ranked at No. 319 on ENR’s Top 400 Contractors list, with $180 million in revenue last year. A firm spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Forrester’s death, but in a statement, the company said that it “will continue to service our current and future clients.”
According to a family-supplied obituary, Forrester earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech and worked for a family owned firm, Scientific Systems Corp., before starting the construction company in 1988. The obituary says that his master's thesis on the newly-emerging area of self-adaptive building energy systems was cited for national recognition, but did not note by what organization.
Forrester's brothers, David and Scott, joined the privately-held nonunion general contractor after its launch. David now is CEO and president and Scott is executive vice president. The firm, formerly known as Austin Construction Co., changed its name in 2000.
The firm now does preconstruction, general contracting, construction management and design-build in private and public sector markets. It completed an $18-million, 36,000-sq-ft renovation of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in 2013 and now is doing a $59-million expansion of Arlington National Cemetery, set to finish in 2016.
ENR also recognized several projects on which Forrester was general contractor, including a 17,000-sq-ft replacement of the visitor's center at Ft. McHenry in Baltimore that used a geothermal heating and cooling system, among other innovations to achieve LEED Silver certification in 2011.
Forrester also is a former board member of the Leukeumia and Lymphoma Society.
"Rick was always the go-to person when it came to dealing with Forrester Construction," says an online tribute writer. "He was the calm one [who] always listened to reason."
"Rick was a very warm and classy guy who went out of his way to be fair to his subs," says Jerry Strieter, president of Southern Insulation Inc., Hyattsville, Md., also in an online tribute, posted on Sept. 5.
But Forrester had been beset by legal problems. Last year, the firm agreed to pay $1 million to the D.C. government to settle claims that it engaged in a pattern of fraudulent bidding on city contracts related to minority business enterprise alliances.
At the time, it said that while the charges were "without merit," it agreed to settle the dispute to prevent it from becoming a "distraction" to the company and employees.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney are investigating the company further, according to an Associated Press report on July 30. The company did not comment further.
According to Forrester, donations in memory of Rick Forrester can be made to The Rick Forrester Foundation for Education, 12231 Parklawn Drive, Rockville, Md. 20852.