Building a Lasting Legacy
When Jimmy Anderson promised his high school sweetheart that they’d remain in one place their entire lives, he had no idea that he’d pretty quickly have to renege on that pledge. In fact, Jimmy’s storybook construction career has pretty closely approximated his wife’s childhood as an Air Force brat. They’ve lived in four states and the District of Columbia and moved over ten times—all in service to Balfour Beatty and our clients. Jimmy’s 37 years with one company makes him a rare gem in the construction industry. But even more exceptional than Jimmy’s longevity is his unique style as a builder that blends old school discipline with new school dexterity.
To be fair, Jimmy made that vow when he planned to pursue an architecture major at Clemson University. The construction bug soon bit the Chester, South Carolina native, and those who’ve had the opportunity to work with Jimmy since his first days with our Mid-Atlantic estimating team can attest that his passion has never wavered. And that’s really saying something. Ronald Reagan was just beginning his first term as president when Jimmy was hired. Nearly four decades later, Jimmy hasn’t returned to a traditional office setting, but the project executive has built quite a legacy in the field and has no plans on leaving it anytime soon. From office towers and airports to prisons and higher education beacons, Jimmy’s stamp of excellence across the Southeast is as inescapable as the summer humidity in his home state.
“I was raised to place a lot of importance on loyalty,” affirms Jimmy. “I’m still here because of the people, but also because I’ve always felt like I wasn’t another number in a big corporation. Balfour Beatty has treated me very fairly, and I’ve always tried to do the same.”
In many ways, Jimmy is a construction leader of a bygone era—one who can weld or woodwork as well as any trade partner. He began building in an age without computers, creating shop drawings with a parallel bar and draftsman’s pencil. Today, Jimmy has thoroughly embraced the tools and technologies like BIM and virtual reality that have replaced this manual work. “Now, I can assemble details and documents on a computer with my eyes closed,” he brims. But Jimmy hasn’t lost the grit that fueled him as a younger builder, known for routinely putting in 14-hour days, six days a week. “Every project is personal to me,” attests Jimmy, a self-professed perfectionist when it comes to managing his projects. “It’s like my own company, or it’s my own little world,” he remarks.
Jimmy’s tackled some tough ones in his day, too, like renovating seven historic dorms for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Facing unforeseen conditions of buildings originally constructed nearly one-hundred years prior, the team couldn’t see the finish line, much less have confidence they would reach it on time. But Jimmy had enough faith for everyone combined and united the team under a simple slogan, “Believe It.” It became their rallying cry. To Jimmy’s surprise, the entire team arrived at a morning meeting sporting custom t-shirts bearing that mantra underneath his photo. Jimmy’s legendary, handlebar mustache was also prominently featured. “It broke my heart in a good way,” Jimmy reminisces. “It was a motivational thing, and heck, we got it done.” Their picture-perfect finish was a testament to the collective team’s perseverance, certainly, but also to Jimmy’s leadership that turned the tide in their favor.
“No one is more dedicated to a project’s success than Jimmy,” praises Johnny Rankin, executive vice president in Raleigh. “He always goes the extra mile to ensure every project stakeholder is successful. For a guy who has seen it all in this business, he still manages to have fun along the way!"
He’s bringing that same determination and camaraderie to his current project, a 150,000-square-foot Student Union for NC A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Although Jimmy’s career has been filled with projects of immense complexity, he doesn’t bat an eye in citing this as his most difficult, due to its multifaceted, multidimensional skin coupled with an aggressive schedule. Jimmy has played an integral role in extensive value engineering efforts on this project—the largest built to date on the A&T campus—which underwent two vigorous stages of design modifications. Among the team’s many achievements includes establishing a robust engagement program for A&T students to learn about the project, furthering their real-world knowledge of construction before entering the workforce.
It’s an initiative that goes hand-in-hand with a passion Jimmy’s developed over the last decade—mentoring his younger teammates. “It really hit me how much they learn to do things the way you show them,” reflects Jimmy. “My mom was a schoolteacher her whole life. I reckon I can finally see why she enjoyed it so much.”
Loyalty and leadership—they’re traits that never go out of style. If you look beyond Jimmy’s encyclopedic industry knowledge, beyond his ability to successfully steward a project’s financials, you’ll understand the real impact of a man who’s dedicated his life’s work to a single company in pursuit of a singular goal: excellence. Aristotle once said “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Jimmy Anderson is living proof that longevity in and of itself doesn’t create a legacy. But a man whose love for and pride in his work shine through everything he does can build a pretty inspirational one. And a man who embodies the message “we’re all in this together” in both word and deed? That’s a legacy that will stand the test of time.