The Alabama AGC established the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame to honor and recognize outstanding individuals in the construction industry. These individuals are held in esteem by their peers and have demonstrated their professionalism through active support of the industry through their civic and community involvement. In short, only those who have literally changed the landscape of our state and nation will be enshrined in the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame.
The 2018 inductees are Kristine A. Harding, NCARB, AIA, KPS Group; Larry Argo, Marathon Electrical Contractors; Alex Whaley, Sr, Whaley Construction Company
Kristine Harding, NCARB, AIA
Kristine A. Harding, NCARB, AIA, Huntsville, AL, has been a member of the Alabama Board for Registration of Architects since 2004, serving as chair in 2008-2009. She has volunteered for several NCARB committees, serving as chair of the Procedures and Documents and Audit committees, as well as Board liaison of the Professional Conduct and Education committees. Harding was first elected to the Southern Conference (Region 3) in 2007 and served as secretary, vice chair, chair, and director. She was elected to the NCARB Board as secretary in 2013 and was installed as national president in 2016, becoming the first woman at the organization’s helm since 1999.
Kristine worked for companies in Philadelphia, Dallas, and Washington, DC, before moving to Huntsville in 1989. She succeeded Billy Herrin as president of Jones & Herrin in 1997, which changed its name to JH Partners upon his retirement and later merged with KPS Group, Inc. Harding now serves as vice president and group manager of their Huntsville Studio, where she provides architecture, interior design and planning services throughout the southeast. An active member in her community, she also sits on the Cummings Research Park Design Control Committee, and has served on the Huntsville-Madison County Marina & Port Authority, the Huntsville Sports Commission, and Leadership Alabama Board of Directors.
Kristine served as president of the Alabama Council AIA in 2005, and in 2011, she was awarded the Alabama Council Accolade Award, which is the highest honor given by the council in recognition for service to the profession. Harding is a graduate of Rice University, which she attended on an athletic scholarship in volleyball. She holds an NCARB Certificate and is licensed in Alabama and Tennessee.
Marathon Electrical Contractors
Larry Argo, with two partners, founded Marathon Electrical Company with nothing but experience and desire in Birmingham in 1987 and led the company to become the $65-million-a-year behemoth it is today.
Since its inception in 1987, Marathon has experienced steady, profitable growth, expanding from just 22 employees at the beginning to over 400 employees today. That small venture has since become one of the Southeast’s largest electrical contractors with work around the world.
Marathon’s mission is to be the premier provider of electrical contracting services in the Southeastern United States.
Says Argo of the company he founded, “We are committed to delivering quality products and services to our customers, while providing a workplace that stresses growth and improvement in the quality of life for all employees.”
Argo said his philosophy from the outset was to “treat everybody like a customer. If you do that, you win. We wanted to win and go home happy.”
Argo said he began his career at Merita Bread Bakery, making $2.20 an hour. He wanted to improve his circumstances, so he got into the electrical trade through a union program. He worked his way up to superintendent and grew into a superintendent, then estimator and project manager.
When it came time to start Marathon, Argo said he and his partners had an interesting conversation with a banker: “We told him we wanted $100,000 and he said ‘You have nothing but the grin on your face and the holes in your shoes.’”
Argo said that in retirement he has been able to look back at some of the great leaders he has known, those after whom he modeled himself.
“The thing they all have in common is that they were good servants,” he said. “They served in an organization like AGC, in their churches, in their communities. A man may run a billion-dollar company, but he’s out knocking on doors for his church.
“Being a servant prepares you for being a good leader.”
Alex Whaley, Sr
Whaley Construction Company
As a child Alex Whaley Sr. would rise early, make breakfast, dig some worms and walk miles to a fishing hole where he would catch his lunch.
It is that energy, that independence at the core of Alex Whaley that defines him and informs his everyday life from loving his family to building a respected powerhouse of a construction company in Troy, Alabama. A man who enjoys the still solitude of the deep, moving woods is comfortable with himself and has much upon which to draw.
That is what has taken the “basket of ears,” as his grandmother called him at his birth, to the respected businessman who has tirelessly worked to build a business and improve the construction industry in Alabama.
Whaley was 7 years old when his father, L.E. Whaley – who ran and owned a saw mill and lumber company and started Whaley Construction Co. in the 1930s – died in 1952. Whaley Construction got its start during the depression when a bonding agent asked the elder Whaley, who at the time was making windows and doors in the lumber company, to finish failed school jobs. Ultimately, Whaley Construction built schools all over south Alabama. Meanwhile, Alex worked his way through Auburn, graduating with a Building Construction degree in 1967. Annual volume at Whaley Construction had dwindled to $168,000 by the time Alex Whaley bought it in 1971. Annual volume at Whaley Construction is more than 100 times that now.
“I did the field engineering, I also bid the work and did the take-off,” Whaley said. “To say that we were intimately involved with each job is an understatement.”
Whaley Construction now does conventional design-bid-build work, design-build, construction management, program management and hybrids, depending on customer needs. It works in the private sector and is heavily involved in the industrial and institutional sectors.
While working hard building his business, Alex also worked hard to build the construction industry. He became involved in the Alabama AGC in 1972 and served multiple roles before becoming Chapter President in 2008. Whaley currently is a national AGC life governor, past-chairman of the Alabama AGC state PAC Committee and serves on the AGC of America PAC Committee. His son, Alex Whaley II, joined the company in 1997 and became president in 2007.
The elder Whaley serves as chairman of the Alabama Licensing Board for General Contractors. He also has been chairman of the Troy Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Pike County Vocational Technical Advisory Board, a member of the Rotary Club and the Alabama Concrete Industries Associate Board, on the board of directors of Troy Bank and Trust since 1979, currently serving as vice chairman. He also participated in Leadership Alabama.
But his time at the AGC has been invaluable, Whaley said.
“What the AGC has given us is the highest level of individual information you can get,” he said. “The man sitting next to you may run a $1 billion company and he’ll tell you the answers to questions you have been struggling with.
“That’s the reason we have been able to prosper in a limited geographical area. We’re ahead of the curve because of AGC.”