Charlie Potts, center, receives his FTBA Hall of Fame sculpture from FTBA Chairman Bob Schafer of Ranger Construction, left, and FTBA President Bob Burleson, right.
By Allison Rose, member services, records and chapter relations director, ARTBA
The Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FTBA) Annual Construction Conference included recognition of two longtime ARTBA leaders. Past ARTBA Chairman Charlie Potts was inducted into FTBA’s Hall of Fame, while FTBA President Bob Burleson received the Nello Teer, Jr. Award from ARTBA’s Contractors Division.
A record 2,000 people from transportation construction, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and other agencies attended the conference, Feb. 7-9 in Orlando. It is one of the nation’s largest industry events.
Potts was one of nine Hall of Fame honorees, part of the third such class since the Hall was established in 2004 by FTBA’s Board of Directors. Inductees can include individuals who are past or active FTBA members, owners or employees, FDOT officials, or major industry supporters. They all meet the criteria of having greatly contributed to the development of the transportation construction industry in Florida.
Potts’ resume certainly fits that bill. It includes decades of executive leadership in the public and private sectors, as well as unparalleled service to industry associations, including several on the national level. His close ties to Florida include 16 years serving in key FDOT positions early in his career, establishing an ongoing dialogue with industry on important issues. Potts is currently chairman of the board at Heritage Construction and Materials.
At ARTBA, Potts is primarily known as the visionary behind the “Critical Commerce Corridors” concept, an effort to recognize and invest in the nation’s freight system. Congress has formally recognized this idea in the last two surface transportation bills, and it remains the foundation of ARTBA’s current advocacy efforts. Potts served as ARTBA’s chairman in 2008-09.
Burleson was presented an award created in 1988 as a tribute to contractor and past ARTBA chairman (1959-61) Nello L. Teer, Jr. Each year, ARTBA’s Contractors Division bestows this honor on an individual who has served as an outstanding advocate for the nation’s transportation contractors.
Burleson has been active with ARTBA throughout a career ranging from contracting to advocacy. From 1970 to 1988, he was a top executive with the Wiley N. Jackson Company in Virginia, and played a key role in the company’s growth. In 1989, he assumed the chief executive post at FTBA when the association was facing serious fiscal challenges. In less than seven years, he returned the association to strong fiscal health and retired the association’s building mortgage—23 years early. He also managed to boost membership after years of decline.
Consistent with FTBA’s advocacy mission, Burleson has led hard-fought legislative victories on the industry’s behalf. Under his leadership, the association helped secure in 1990 the largest funding increase for transportation in Florida history. He championed legislation that doubled fines for motorists in construction zones in 1996. Burleson helped create the “Stop Highway Robbery” campaign to prevent legislative sweeps of the state’s transportation trust fund in 2004. And in 2010, he helped marshal industry opposition and secured a veto by Governor Charlie Crist that stopped a raid on state transportation funds.
Burleson is also a past chairman of ARTBA’s Council of State Executives and a long-time ARTBA delegate to the AASHTO-AGC-ARTBA Joint Committee, an executive-level policy group. He will be retiring from FTBA at the end of 2018.