Article in the Daily Journal of Commerce
By BENJAMIN MINNICK
Journal Construction Editor
This week David Ashbaugh, George Schuchart Sr. and Howard S. Wright will be inducted into the University of Washington Construction Industry Hall of Fame, chosen by the Department of Construction Management and its Construction Industry Advisory Council.
George Schuchart Sr. grew up in Everett and went to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He planned to make a career in the Navy until his uncle, Howard H. Wright, convinced him in the early 1950s to join the family business. That’s where he worked with his first cousin, Howard S. Wright, another new inductee into the hall of fame.
Schuchart focused on industrial work, including pulp and paper mills, and built nuclear power plants at Rainier, Ore., and Hanford.
George Schuchart Jr. said his dad’s biggest accomplishment was the refineries and pump stations he built in the 1970s and 80s for BP, Arco, Chevron and Shell. They were built in modules in the Puget Sound area and then barged to the North Slope of Alaska. Each trip had to be made during a narrow window of time to avoid sea ice.
The company built more than 550 modules, which varied from about 5 tons to more than 4,300 tons.
“It was remarkable, it was quite an accomplishment,” said George Jr.
The family business eventually became Wright Schuchart, which had three branches: General Construction Co. for marine projects, Wright Schuchart Harbor Co. for industrial and Howard S. Wright Construction Co. for commercial.
Some companies in the family business were created out of necessity. For example, the engineering firm Schuchart & Associates was formed in 1975 after running into problems with incomplete drawings for pulp and paper mills, and their equipment. That company was sold in the 1980s to employee Bob Harris, who changed the name to Harris Group.
In 1987, Wright Schuchart was sold to Fletcher Challenge of New Zealand. George Sr. retired the following year and George Jr., who also worked at Wright Schuchart, left to form a new construction company called Schuchart. The new company, where George Jr. is president and CEO, built the Bullitt Center in Seattle, which bills itself as the world’s greenest commercial building.
George Sr. boated and golfed in his spare time, and spent many winters in Palm Springs, California. He now resides in Seattle.
Another love was flying. George Jr. said his dad flew reconnaissance planes when he was in the Navy and owned four airplanes over the years.
During the summer, George Sr. lived at Mission Beach on the Tulalip Reservation and commuted to work in Seattle by seaplane. He would meet his son after flying back from work at end the day and would then get towed on water skis to the family summer house on Puget Sound.
George Sr. also served as president of Seattle Children’s Home, a regent at Bastyr University and president of the board at Bush School.
The hall of fame induction banquet will be Friday at Chihuly Garden and Glass, which was built by George Schuchart Jr.’s construction company.
Excerpt from article posted on the DJC website May 27, 2014.