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A good leader makes sure he is surrounded by the right people - Gene A. Abbott, CEO

Abbott and Associates, Inc. A good leader makes sure he is surrounded by the right people.

“Success is not achieved totally by leadership alone,” says Gene Abbott, CEO of contracting firm Abbott and Associates. “A good leader makes sure he is surrounded by the right people, that there are open lines of communication in all matters, and that there is a strong commitment by all.

“I have been a mechanical contractor for 34 years. One of our more prominent projects was the TARP project, better known as The Deep Tunnel, for the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago.

“The project was 300 feet below grade level, and all of our heating and cooling equipment and material had to be lowered to that level. It was to be installed, at an elevation of 55 feet, in an equipment room the size of a football field.

“I received a call that we had a serious problem. The room was equipped with a permanently installed overhead crane, which was in the way of our scaffolding.

“After several meetings, we were able to convince the tunnel coordinators of the necessity to build an extension platform from the overhead crane. We then used this platform to assemble and install our equipment above the elevation of the crane. Through leadership, communication, and dedication, we took a critical situation and turned it into a positive result that was appreciated by all.

“Another significant project for us was the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. The facility is for scientific use and has a one-and-a-half-mile circumference.

“Our contract was for $6 million. Once the project got underway, there were interferences due to design and having available access to move productivity.

“Through our communication, leadership, and dedication, our team managed to take 13 sections of this facility and orchestrate them as one typical section. This process allowed us to fabricate all the material on a typical basis, to be aggressive, and to have the material already in place before the facility was even roofed.

“The Argonne people were awed by our hard work and dedication to be so far in advance of the project schedule. In fact, we were recognized and thanked personally for our performance, not only for our work on the project, but also for the safety that was instilled. Argonne prepared a safety video, using our personnel’s performance and exhibits, which was mailed to every Argonne facility in the world.”

Gene’s conclusion: “Only through one’s willingness and dedication to give one’s self, and strive solely to be the best, not the biggest, can one become a better leader.”


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