The construction industry lost one of its quiet leaders December 7. Dwight Kuhn passed away at home yesterday. Dwight was a fixture in the industry and one of the rare people who was willing to stay in the background. He was also one of the classic American success stories. Dwight married his high school sweetheart, Kathy. He joined Jendoco Construction right out of school, at age 18, and worked for them for 44 years, retiring as president in 2013. Dwight was a big part of the successes Pete Dozzi had building Jendoco and served Tom Murphy and Dom Dozzi well until he retired.
I was fortunate to have a weekly conversation with Dwight when I owned the Pittsburgh Construction News. We shared information about what was on the streets and I was always happy (and surprised) when I could tell Dwight something he didn’t know. I was also lucky to be around the process when Jendoco was working through getting Scott Hall at CMU. I think it was the last project Dwight worked on at Jendoco and it was kind of a classic Dwight Kuhn job. Even though he was president of the company at the time, Dwight oversaw the many estimates and his knowledge of what was on the campus and underground at CMU, and his ability to put a building together in his head, was invaluable to getting the project out of the ground. Ralph Horgan and his team at CMU still tell stories of how Dwight sketched out solutions to problems they didn’t know existed while the building was being designed.
The way the industry changed over the past 30 years drove Dwight as crazy as the rest of us but I never saw him take a bad day out on anyone. He was a nice guy and I think that mattered to him. My day always got better when Dwight called and I’m going to miss him. I got to see him last at the GBA’s annual gala, where his son Michael received an award for service to the industry. He knew that his illness wasn’t going to give him a lot more time on this Earth – and he wasn’t happy about that – but he accepted what was going to come and was grateful for what he had – a great family and great friends. My option that night was to work the room like a good networker or sit down and have a drink with my friend Dwight. That was an easy call to make.