Kevin Curtis inducted into NCMA’s Hall of Fame

Kevin Curtis, retired CEO of Besser Company, inducted into the NCMA Hall of Fame.

Kevin L Curtis, retired CEO of the Besser Company, Alpena, Michigan, was presented with NCMA’s Hall of Fame award on August 5 at the association’s Midyear meetings held at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

NCMA’s Hall of Fame award is presented to the industry’s most valued participants whose careers are highlighted by continual accomplishments on the industry’s behalf, and who have demonstrated unquestioned dedication to NCMA’s highest values.

Born on St. Patrick’s Day in the small town of Rogers City, Michigan, Kevin grew up with his siblings at Grand Lake. It’s here he developed his love for the great outdoors and for small-town living. He’s proud to share that he’s a product of the Posen school system, graduating in 1971 from Posen High School. He spent some time during his summers working alongside his father, Galen at a satellite Besser research and development site where the Dynapac® was being designed and built. Working in the concrete lab and Besser plant housed on the campus of Alpena Community College gave him more exposure to the industry. And if that weren’t enough, he also found time to help Phil Park, then CEO and chairman of Besser with odd jobs, including Mason tending during the construction of the Besser Bell facility. It was Phil Park who influenced Kevin’s decision to attend Olivet College as Phil and his wife, Maxine, both graduated from Olivet.

While attending Olivet, Kevin quickly fell in love with Paula Murray from Newberry, a small town in Michigan’s upper peninsula. Kevin and Paula were married in 1974 and both graduated in 1975 from Olivet. This began the 47-year journey that continues today. Upon graduation, Kevin managed a hotel and restaurant complex in Flint, Michigan, and learned hands-on about customer service. In 1978, he began his Besser career as a management trainee. Later that year, he was assigned to the Minnesota district as a service engineer and was promoted five years later to a sales representative. His early success can be attributed to his work ethic, willingness to learn, and the strong relationships he forged with customers. Some of Kevin’s best mentors were customers from this district. In 1985, he and his young family returned to Northern Michigan, where he took on the challenging role of national sales manager, a promotion to vice-president of sales and marketing took place in 1993, which was followed by a promotion to company president in 1999. He became CEO in 2004, the same year that Besser became an employee-owned company. His ability to lead and coach has been instrumental to the successful creation of Besser’s current corporate culture, which is now centered around an employee stock ownership plan. Kevin takes great pride in furthering the tradition of supporting the association that supports Besser.

“Jessie Besser got us into the NCMA. We’ve been a strong supporter because we do believe it’s the best way to promote the industry, grow the industry, and it’s a great place to network. And so we’re just a strong believer that you will get value if you participate.”

Kevin’s first NCMA meeting was at the Cincinnati machinery show in 1981. His impact has been felt in roles that are numerous and varied, including serving on the membership committee, the associates division board, the board of directors, and the foundation. Likewise, supporting the local community is important to Kevin. As a parent of hockey players, he served as treasurer of the Blue Line Club, served on the ACC Concrete Technology advisory board, and currently serves as a director for the World Center for Concrete Technology. At Besser, his notable achievements are many, but the closest to his heart is the development of the Servopac® Family of Machines while maintaining improved versions of the cam machines, the engineering and production of big board molds, many acquisitions, and the vision to forge partnerships with creative thinkers inside and outside of our industry. Beyond steel and deals, the positive impact he’s had on the people of the industry is what we’ll all remember the most. The drive to get everyone on the same page through effective communication has permeated Besser and the industry. Forever humble, when he announced his retirement, Kevin was surprised by the outpouring from former employees, retirees, industry friends that have moved on, and those currently active. Many thanked him for his coaching, friendship and guidance, how he shaped them professionally and personally, his impact is sure to shape our industry for years to come. Kevin’s career has taken him across North America and over 40 countries around the globe where he’s taken the opportunity to develop strong relationships with industry members. Likewise, he’s enjoyed welcoming hundreds of guests to Alpena and introducing them to the culture and people that make Besser unique. Although retired, Kevin will remain as an active member on Besser’s Board of Directors.

Above all else, family is his priority. He and Paula are incredibly proud of their sons. Both sons are married, both are attorneys and both have given Kevin and Paula very active grandchildren to keep them young. Much of their retirement will be spent creating memories with Cory, Angie, Olivia, and Jake in the Houston area and with Alan, Chrissy, and Forrest in Alpena, and of course, their dogs will accompany them. Whether in Alpena, Houston, Florida, or spending time with extended family and friends while traveling in their motor home, one thing is for sure, Kevin will always carry a passion for all things concrete.

A few of the accolades and congratulations received for Kevin are below.

“No one’s more deserving than you. What a distinguished career with Besser, what you brought that company and your contributions to our industry.” – Scott Weber, Basalite Concrete Products.

“I remember you breaking a sweat during intense negotiations with my dad, on new plant equipment. Our family truly appreciates and is grateful for the support you gave in establishing the Deborah Hunt scholarship fund at Alpena Community College. And on a personal note, I really appreciate your friendship and support for me and my annual birthday card I look forward to getting every year.” – Steve Hunt, BlockUp.

NCMA thanks Kevin for everything you have done for the concrete products industry and congratulations on earning this Hall of Fame award.

For a PDF copy of this press release, click here.

Published September 1, 2021
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