Homecoming for Campbell

April 03, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

Timothy R. Campbell, an architect, worked for Callas Contractors Inc. outside Hagerstown for 10 years before breaking away.

He started a new business, Excel Construction Co., which sometimes bid against Callas Contractors for jobs.

Now, he's back.

Campbell rejoined Callas Contractors as president on March 7. He's stepping in for Harry T. Reynolds, who took over as chairman and chief executive officer when Michael G. Callas died.

The plan is for Campbell to eventually replace Reynolds as chairman and CEO.

Reynolds said he and Callas spent four years searching for the right person to take over for Callas, who founded the company. They interviewed about 30 people.


Callas was 83 years old when he died on May 31, 2004. His brother, Peter Callas, said Monday that he died after a massive heart attack.

Reynolds said the decision to bring Campbell back was his.

"I knew Tim for 17, 18 years," Reynolds said. "I felt that he would be the best candidate for the job. He's local, from St. James, has a degree in architecture. It just seemed like a natural fit."

By Michael Callas' wishes, Reynolds was free to make that choice.

"Mr. Callas' written instructions (allowed) his successor to choose a successor," Reynolds said. "That was me."

Callas hoped Reynolds would stay on as chairman and CEO, Reynolds said, but "I'm 65. I want a slower pace."

Two people who knew Michael Callas well said Campbell's split from the company would not have irked him.

"I'm sure Mike is very proud," said Betty M. Smith, who was his executive secretary for 36 years.

Smith said Callas would have been pleased to see someone, even a longtime employee, do well on his own.

"He never, ever turned to bear a grudge or resentment toward anybody," she said.

Peter Callas said his brother liked seeing people get opportunities.

Besides, Michael Callas couldn't have been upset about an employee going off on his own: He did the same thing decades earlier, Peter Callas said.

He said it's part of the industry - similar to what Big Band leaders went through when their musicians went solo.

Campbell said he can't duplicate Michael Callas, but he hopes to emulate his best qualities, such as Callas' support of community causes.

"I see a lot of similarities in the way (Campbell) approaches things - his demeanor, his pleasantness," Reynolds said.

Campbell noted that when all of Callas Contractors' employees took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test, he and Michael Callas scored the same: INTJ, for introversion, intuition, thinking, judging.

"I immediately have intuition," he said about facing problems, "but I think it through pretty thoroughly."

Campbell was born in York, Pa., then grew up in Washington County.

He said he learned a little about construction as a child from his father, Dean Campbell, who traveled worldwide through an engineering job.

Timothy Campbell attended North Hagerstown High School, then became a better student when he switched to the smaller Saint James School.

By the time he graduated from Saint James School in 1976 and entered Clemson (S.C.) University, he knew he wanted to be an architect.

After earning a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1980, he went to work for Blake Construction Co., a general contractor in Washington, D.C.

He stayed there about four years, then moved to Hardin Construction Co. in Atlanta - largely to get back to the South, he said.

Campbell said he returned to the Tri-State area to work for Ackerman & Co.

He joined Callas Contractors as a senior project manager in 1987.

With Callas Contractors, Campbell helped build additions at the three prisons south of Hagerstown and an addition and renovation at North Hagerstown High School, among other projects.

Campbell said he eventually wanted to go into business on his own, which is how Excel Construction started in 1997.

"I even thought of Mike (Callas)," Campbell said. "He started (Callas Contractors) in 1958. He was 37, about the same age."

In a 1998 story, Callas said of losing Campbell, "I was sorry because he's a first-class construction professional. Certainly, we wish him luck. He was a valuable asset."

Campbell said the company is faring well and, thanks to Michael Callas, has a "powerful" mission statement to match: "Callas Contractors Inc. is" - "and 'is' is the key word," he interjected - "the best contractor operating in the Cumberland Valley."

The company's recent projects include a Washington County Courthouse Annex renovation, the construction of a Country Inns & Suites hotel at Valley Mall, renovations at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., and a Seventh-day Adventist church in Frederick, Md.

Lately, the business climate has been "a little bit slow," Campbell said.

He said Washington County's contractors have faced a relatively new obstacle: large commercial developers that bring in construction companies from outside the area. It happened with FedEx, Lowe's and Tractor Supply Co. in Washington County and Target in Chambersburg, Pa., Campbell and Reynolds said.

Callas Contractors is making adjustments. Campbell said the company is going after work near Baltimore; Lancaster, Pa.; and Virginia.

Campbell said the company also is beginning to design its own plans instead of bidding out the work.

"We've started a little bit," he said.

Reynolds is optimistic that steady work lies ahead. He even pledged that the company, which has about 115 employees, will hire more in "the next several months."

"I don't ever expect to be a Mike Callas," Campbell said, "but I know we'll do well."

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