Michael J. Kuntz, vice president and general manager of Turner Construction Co.'s Philadelphia office, had originally planned on a career in broadcasting.
Kuntz, who turns 49 in July, started in the construction business in 1979, at age 20, straight out of college.
Unlike most of his colleagues, he does not hold an engineering degree. He majored in communications at Pennsylvania State University, dreaming of a radio broadcasting job.
But, he said, he had a natural ability to look at a drawing and break the structure it represented into pieces.
He combined his innate talent with his communications skills and applied them toward sales and management. For the first eight years of his career, Kuntz worked for the former M.W. Kellogg Co., of Houston, which built nuclear-power plants. Kuntz worked in three of the company's job sites, including in Williamsport, Pa., his hometown.
He started with Turner in 1987 in its Boston office as an assistant superintendent. Nine years later, he led Turner's pharmaceutical division, with headquarters in Philadelphia, from 1996 to 2000, overseeing the construction of manufacturing facilities in laboratories. He moved his family to the area in 1996, settling in Medford Township, Burlington County.
In 2000, Kuntz assumed a national sales role in which he logged 200,000 miles annually for eight years and visited almost every one of Turner's 44 offices.
"I always tease that out of 5,800 employees nationwide, I probably know 3,000 of them," Kuntz said. Since 2003, he has headed Turner's Philadelphia office.
During an interview last week, Kuntz wore a Virginia Tech University T-shirt. His 21-year-old daughter, Jackie, is a senior psychology major at the school and was not harmed in the recent attack. "It's made us closer as a family," he said of the tragedy.
Among Turner's extensive portfolio, the National Constitution Center was Kuntz's favorite.
"It's a beautiful building just from an aesthetic point of view," he said, "and it's a great place to take your kids or your mother and father for a visit."
The health-care projects were most dear to him.
"You feel pretty good about building a hospital because it's there for such a positive thing," Kuntz said. "The fact that we're building a new research facility at Children's Hospital that will save a kid's life someday is pretty neat."- Suzette Parmley