ENR’s Top 25 Newsmakers

ENR’s Top 25 Newsmakers

Original Post: Engineering News-Record | January 21, 2015

The construction industry is full of excellent leadership, but the public rarely sees it in action—even if it ultimately benefits from better roads, buildings and other facilities. ENR’s annual Top 25 Newsmakers program recognizes outstanding achievements. For a half-century now, ENR has named the top industry professionals who have made a difference for their industry and the public during the preceding year. There are no nomination forms or application fees. The editors review the news and select leaders who stand out, and those leaders comprise a diverse group: A superintendent who choreographed the largest-ever concrete placement, a contract manager whose team logged a quarter-million hours in Antarctica with zero recordable incidents and a conservationist who educated designers on bird-safe building practices are just a few of the honorees profiled here. One person also has been selected to receive ENR’s highest honor, the Award of Excellence, which will be announced at the magazine’s annual gala on April 16 in New York City


Major disasters have played a significant role in the life of Teddy Phillips Jr. As CEO and vice chairman of heavy-civil contractor Phillips & Jordan Inc., Knoxville, Tenn., P&J teams have managed cleanups after the 9/11 attacks in New York City, Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, and recent tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a six-decade P&J client, hired the firm to clean up its Kingston power plant after a dike rupture sent 1.1 billion gallons of coal-ash slurry into the Emory River in 2008.

“No two emergency events are ever the same,” says Phillips. “You build upon past experience, learning something new each time and developing a body of knowledge for the next time.”

To help create continuity, P&J designed and implemented an in-house automated debris management system for emergency-response work. It streamlines project tracking, reporting and reconciliation using web-based software that is compatible with smartphones. The system—called STORM, or “strategic tracking of recovery material”—relies upon photos, bar-code scans and satellite tracking for accurate, real-time progress reports, with data easily exported into spreadsheets. “No system in the marketplace has been real-life-tested like this one has,” Phillips says.

“The guys at P&J aren’t afraid to get down in the mud,” says Timothy Gipe, president and CEO of EE&G Environmental Services, Miami, which has partnered with P&J on cleanups. “It’s a big firm with small-firm flexibility and aggressiveness.”