Relentless Ally Takes the Road Less Traveled
The sun’s rays beat relentlessly upon the young man’s back as sweat plasters his hair into his hard hat. His hands are callused and splintered from unloading board after board of freshly planed lumber. It’s strenuous work, but sixteen-year-old Patrick Fleming takes great pride in being part of his first construction crew. Even more, he’s awakening to what will one day become his life’s passion and purpose.
Construction, however, wasn’t exactly what Patrick’s parents had in mind for their son. Not that they didn’t believe it was rewarding or respectable work. From the time Patrick was born, they simply dreamed he would follow in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Stories of his grandfather’s heroism flying B-17 bombers during World War II were passed down like a cherished family heirloom. Growing up, Patrick often imagined commanding his own cockpit. But a still, small voice kept beckoning Patrick back to the energy he felt on construction sites.
Ultimately, Patrick turned down an Air Force Academy scholarship to attend Virginia Tech. With strong construction management and Corps of Cadets programs, it was the best of both worlds for a young man who would one day choose between them. At the time, the US was engaged in the post-invasion phase of the Iraq War, and the armed forces needed foot soldiers, not airmen. As Patrick came to this fork in the road, his destiny became clear. But anticipating his parents’ reaction, he made the decision with a heavy heart. “I knew I had something to prove,” says Patrick.
And prove himself Patrick did. Each summer, Patrick returned to his hometown of Atlanta, GA and eagerly accepted manual jobs like setting anchor bolts and toting drywall most of his classmates wouldn’t have considered. But Patrick knew he wasn’t going to achieve his dream lounging poolside with friends.
Upon graduation, Patrick accepted a position with the same Atlanta-based contractor he’d worked for during college. The Great Recession hit soon after, drying up an entire industry seemingly overnight. Not easily deterred, Patrick started a self-perform business unit that helped the company remain profitable. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, you build a door,” asserts Patrick. But Patrick, who had built two major courthouses before the economic downturn, dreamed of returning to larger-scale, ground-up construction.
True to form, Patrick dreamed big, and he dreamed bold—especially on one particular St. Patrick’s Day. After grabbing a Guinness with his dad in a historic area of Atlanta known as Buckhead, he glanced up at several tower cranes dotting the skyline. “Pop,” he said, “I’d like to run a big job like that one day.” That job was Buckhead Atlanta, a 1.5 million-square-foot, mixed-use development that stalled for three-and-a-half years during the Great Recession. Many believed the project would never come to fruition, but Balfour Beatty, the general contractor, never gave up on the vision. Little did Patrick know that he’d soon play a leading role in resurrecting the development.
In 2012, Patrick didn’t have to build any doors. Opportunity came knocking from Balfour Beatty. At that juncture, the company’s commercial group was new and growing in the Atlanta market. Patrick knew instantaneously that it was a perfect fit. His first job with Balfour Beatty, the Canon Warehouse Expansion, was also the first LEED v4 warehouse in the country. Upon its completion, Patrick got his St. Patty’s Day wish—and so much more.
Balfour Beatty restarted Buckhead Atlanta under different ownership, and Patrick was asked to work on one of its three major parcels. “We were pouring concrete by sunrise, cutting deals with a big-time client by nightfall. I was having the time of my life,” reminisces Patrick, then only in his late twenties. Midway through the project, their parcel’s senior field leader left the company. Mike Macon, senior vice president and business unit leader for Balfour Beatty’s Atlanta operations, believed in Patrick’s ability to lead the team to a successful completion of the parcel. Predictably, they rose to the challenge.
Although Patrick still views Buckhead Atlanta as the pinnacle of his career to date, he was also part of the team that built the tallest tower in Atlanta since the Great Recession, the 39-story Icon Midtown. Patrick is currently building what promises to be another landmark project, a luxury multifamily housing development known as the Osprey. It is Balfour Beatty’s first project with off-site manufacturer, Prescient, across its US operations. It’s also one of the first Prescient jobs to go vertical in Atlanta. Prescient will prefabricate the entire tower structure off-site and ship it to the jobsite for assembly.
All eyes will be on the 980 team as they leverage this system to deliver the project sooner than a traditional concrete or wood-frame structure would have allowed. “We’re a bold and audacious group with very big goals,” praises Patrick. “There’s no doubt this team will accomplish what we set out to achieve.”
If history’s any indicator, betting on Patrick is a pretty sure thing. For an industry leader so young, it’s not just his portfolio that makes this senior project manager stand out from the pack. It’s his insatiable work ethic and get-down-in-the-trenches approach to teamwork that poise Patrick for success. Patrick may not have earned his wings in the Air Force, but his grandfather’s spirit is alive and well in this Relentless Ally who is charting his own course along the road less traveled.