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Minn. highway contractor remembered as ‘industry lion’

Charley McCrossan

Charley McCrossan

Charley McCrossan, who founded and nurtured C.S. McCrossan into one of the nation’s top family-owned highway contractors, died Tuesday at age 91.

McCrossan’s industry peers remembered him last week as being a principled leader and astute businessman who was dedicated to his family, the construction industry and his Maple Grove, Minn.-based business. Even after McCrossan turned 90, he remained active in the family business that he had built from scratch with a modest personal investment.

AGC-Minnesota’s 2017 directory lists Charley McCrossan as the chairman of the company. A son, Tom McCrossan, is president. The company’s LinkedIn profile says it has 201 to 500 employees.

“The really telling thing about Charley was he continued to be involved in their operations, all the way up until his passing,” said Tim Worke, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota.

“He had an intense sense of humor,” Worke added. “He always would tell a story or a little snippet that had some sort of fun angle to it. When you sat down with him, all you did was listen. You could tell right away he had a lifetime of experience.”

Born on Feb. 20, 1926, in Duluth, Charles S. McCrossan founded C.S. McCrossan Inc. in 1956 after a stint with the Merchant Marine and a tour of duty in the Korean War. He started the business with “$1,015 in savings and a few pieces of well-used equipment,” AGC-Minnesota said in an email to its members.

McCrossan made the most of that modest investment. The company blossomed under his watch and left its mark on some of the biggest infrastructure jobs in the Twin Cities, including the Blue Line and Green Line light-rail transit projects.

Other McCrossan projects of note include the three-year, $115 million interstate 494 design-build project between Eden Prairie and Minnetonka; the $47.8 million Highway 610 design-build project in Maple Grove; and the $50 million overhaul of the congested Highway 169 and Highway 81 intersection in Brooklyn Park.

McCrossan worked with Plain-based Kraemer North America on the $128 million I-494/Highway 169 design-build job, which reconstructed one of the busiest interchanges in Minnesota.

Bob Beckel, Minnesota regional manager for Kraemer, remembered McCrossan as an “industry pioneer” and a man of “great vision.”

“He left a legacy and a very stable firm,” Beckel said. “He has a great family and they have a lot of integrity.”

McCrossan was an active industry booster. He became an AGC-Minnesota member in 1959. He was chairman of the association’s board in 1975 and was presented with AGC-Minnesota’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2005.

Worke described him as an “industry lion.” McCrossan was among those in the construction business who “built these really strong companies and did so at a time in their life when they basically had nothing,” Worke said.

“You don’t see those people anymore,” he added. “It’s kind of the passing of an era.”

McCrossan is survived by his wife of 65 years, Helen. They had nine children, 17 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.Admirers recall Charley McCrossan as an ‘industry lion’

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