Rich DiGeronimo - Guardian Award 2016

President* - Independence Excavating Co.

The well-known saying, “find and do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” fit Rich DiGeronimo like a glove. It seems as if everything he wanted or needed he found without ever leaving home. His parents Sam and Mary started the first family business, Sam DiGeronimo and Sons, from their home, and Rich and his six siblings all literally grew up in the business. Rich married his high school sweetheart, Johane, and their union made him the proud father of five and the cherished “Papo” to 12 grandchildren.

In what became the family formula, Sam and Sons inspired oldest brother Don to start Independence Excavating, which together with sister company Precision Environmental comprises the core of the DiGeronimo Companies. Rich did not just inherit the mantle of ownership. He started as a laborer, learning the construction business from the ground up. Devoted to building and sustaining the vision of his father and brother Don, Rich’s character was evident to all he came in contact with. His laughter and smile were contagious, and he went out of his way with patience and love to encourage and support whomever he encountered.

It so happens that his natural aptitude for making people comfortable was good for business, and Rich was able to nurture lifelong relationships with customers, partners, and employees. He loved to visit jobsites in part because he never forgot where he came from. He was proud that people knew his handshake was his bond. He was a textbook example of life-work balance because the elements were seamless.

Rich’s good fortune, rooted in family, faith, and community, manifested itself in his generous and passionate spirit and led him to create a legacy of service and contribution to the industry. He was president of the Ohio Contractors Association and served CEA as director and legislative chairman of its political action committee. An inductee of the Cleveland Engineering Society’s Hall of Fame, Rich’s professional legacy is perhaps best expressed in a program he established in 1986 to strengthen ties between contractors and local university students interested in the industry. This year will mark the 31st annual Rich DiGeronimo Constructor for a Day Program. He died in 2009.

*Awarded Posthumously