Over the span of about a month this winter, Kevin O’Toole had a big part in two projects that brought his career full circle.
First, Hunzinger Construction, where O’Toole is an executive vice president, oversaw the demolition in mid-January of the dome of the Bradley Center, the same Bradley Center Hunzinger and O’Toole helped build in 1987.
Then, just weeks later, O’Toole helped Hunzinger use eight lift motors to raise the 600,000-pound roof of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater 26 feet. It was once again a structure O’Toole was quite familiar with. In 1988, he and Hunzinger had helped build the amphitheater — one among a large number of prominent projects they have worked on at the Summerfest grounds.
“Maybe you’ve been in this business too long when you start tearing stuff down that you’ve built,” O’Toole deadpanned.
O’Toole didn’t initially intend to be in the trades. He began working at Hunzinger in the summer between semesters at Marquette University, and stayed on during summers after he had graduated and become a religion teacher at a high school in Milwaukee. Eventually, he was drawn in by the devotion he saw on display from his father-in-law, Dick Hunzinger.
Nowadays, the main emotion he feels is pride, especially when he’s able to show his kids and grandkids the parts of Miller Park that he and Hunzinger helped build. He recently oversaw a $25 million upgrade of the ballpark’s concessions infrastructure.
“We build some really cool buildings as a company,” O’Toole said. “But at the end of the day, the reality is that his passion for what he did was really attractive to me. It was never a job.”
In addition to the shot of adrenaline that sometimes comes from being under a tight deadline, O’Toole gets a rush from playing on the stages he has helped build. He has played guitar for a band called H2-Oh at Summerfest for years. There’s nothing like playing before a crowd on a stage you helped build, he said.
“I love the feeling of walking out on that stage and hitting a chord, and I just can’t get past that we built it,” O’Toole said. “This industry is so cool. There are not very many jobs that you really get to have that sense of pride and accomplishment that really lasts.”