Eldon Morrison and Paul Koziell, the two CPM Constructors executives who died in a plane crash in Arundel on Wednesday, are being remembered by friends and colleagues as family men who loved the construction industry.
The tragedy for their families and the company is compounded because Morrison, 81, the founder and CEO of CPM, is the father-in-law of Koziell, 55, who served as president of the company and was married to one of Morrison’s three daughters, Denise.
“It’s a huge hit for the families to lose not one, but two, members suddenly,” said Maria Fuentes, executive director of the Maine Better Transportation Association in Augusta. “I think other family members will get as involved as they need to.”
Company CFO Tim Ouellette, who also is a son-in-law of Morrison, said the company is focused on the grieving process for the entire team and on existing contingency plans to ensure operations continue as crews work on public infrastructure projects in Maine and New Hampshire.
“This is a family business, and Eldon and Paul’s legacy will continue to guide us,” he said in a statement.
CPM has done dozens of projects for the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority, including replacing two Interstate 295 bridges over Route 1 near Exit 17 in Yarmouth, reconstructing the historic Cribstone Bridge in Harpswell and working on Exit 45 of the Maine Turnpike interchange in South Portland.
The reconstruction of Exit 45 was “one of the most diversified and difficult construction projects undertaken in Maine this past year,” said Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority.
Fuentes said Koziell, who she described as an idea person with a passion for the construction industry, was especially proud of the company’s work on Exit 45.
The Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority said they were in touch with CPM Thursday noting, “The company is in mourning but has every intention of continuing operations. It’s what Eldon and Paul would have wanted.”
Fuentes described Morrison as a “force of nature who wanted to get things done,” but who left time for his family and his interests, which included philanthropy, flying and sailing.
“He was a frank person, so you never questioned where you were on any issue with him,” said Jeffery Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation. “He had a good sense of humor and played practical jokes.”
Morrison, a member of the foundation, showed up at a donor event at the university last year dressed in a full Scottish kilt outfit.
He founded the company in 1985, and grew it to about 85 employees in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. He was a well-known philanthropist, having funded the Millard Pray scholarship, named after his friend and former business partner, through the Maine Better Transportation Association.
He also established the Dianne Morrison Research Scholarship, in honor of his wife, at the University of Maine, where he earned his civil engineering degree in 1964. They both grew up in Washington County.
Both Morrison and Kozeill volunteered time to support future skilled workers through the Associated General Contractors of Maine’s education foundation and “for that we will always be grateful,” Kelly Flagg, executive director of the organization, said. “This loss will be felt by many people across the state.”
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins commended Morrison for encouraging young women to enter the construction field in a video congratulating him for winning the Associated General Contractors of Maine major achievement in construction award in 2010.
His daughter, Stacey Morrison, owns Ganneston Construction in Augusta, and is the only general contractor certified by the state as a women-owned business. A third daughter, Susan, who is married to Ouellette, works at CPM.
Collins said Thursday that she is “deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Eldon and Paul. In their business, community, and philanthropic activities, they represented the best of Maine. Eldon and his wife, Dianne … have been great supporters of UMaine and strived to create great opportunities for generations of Maine students.”