Pepper Construction Group CEO dies at 59

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Dave Pepper, long-time CEO and chairman of family-owned Chicago-based Pepper Construction Group, died Dec. 28, in Barrington, Ill., after several years of illness. He was 59.

Under his leadership, the Pepper Construction expanded into Ohio and delivered the world’s first LEED-Gold certified museum.

Pepper joined the firm—founded in 1927 by his grandfather Stanley F. Pepper—after graduating in 1985 from Iowa State University with a civil engineering degree.

He became its CEO in 2003. Pepper Construction ranks at No. 65 on ENR’S Top 400 Contractors list with $1.26 billion in 2018 reported revenue.

In addition to expanding Ohio operations in Cincinnati and Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago, Pepper supervised work at Grand Rapids Art Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., the first LEED-Gold museum in the U.S. The company now has 1,110 employees in five U.S. offices.

Pepper was a civil engineering graduate of Iowa State University, where he met his wife, Katy. He served as CEO of Pepper Construction Group and was known as a champion of education – holding multiple leadership roles including president of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Education and Research Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to improving the science of construction.

His obituary says Pepper;s “life centered around his family and friends. He enjoyed cooking, boating and travelling and frequently said that being part of his family was the best leadership lesson of his life.

“He believed that values shape lives, particularly through unexpected turns, and Dave instilled honesty, gratitude and openness into the culture of Pepper Construction.

He was also involved in workforce readiness and school mentoring programs and served on the Providence St. Mel School Board of Trustees; the Dominican University Board of Trustees; Junior Achievement of Chicago’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee; and served as a  Management Trustee to the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and supported their educational programs over several decades.

Dave was also a member of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, the Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Club, the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation and The Commercial Club of Chicago.

He leaves behind his wife Katy and their three children, Ali, Lauren and Colin; as well as his parents, Richard and Roxelyn Pepper; brothers, Dick, Stan, Scot; and sisters, Lisa and Lynda.

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