Bud Cianchette, Co-Founder of Cianbro, Passes Away

“It is with deep sadness that I announce the passing of one of our founders, a friend and colleague, Bud Cianchette.  Bud died last evening at 7:45 after a short illness.  He was 83 years old.  Please join me in extending heartfelt sympathies and prayers to Bud’s family.”  — Pete Vigue, President, Chairman and CEO of Chinbro

Last month, at the company’s 60th Anniversary celebration in the Cianchette’s hometown of Pittsfield, Maine, Ival (Bud) Cianchette told an audience of more than 400 Cianbro team members that he had led a charmed life.  “In my obituary, if anyone writes one, it should say, ‘the luckiest man in the world just left us.’  If you feel sorry, you can’t feel sorry for me,” he told the group.  “If all of you are as lucky as I’ve been, you’re just going to have a great life because I certainly have.”

Bud’s long and accomplished biography began on July 19, 1926, when he was born to Ralph and Edna Cianchette, the fifth of their seven children.  He grew up in a close-knit family that was supported by the hard work of his father, who was gaining success as a bridge-builder in the 1930s, and by the loving care of his mother, who had many wise lessons to teach the children as they progressed toward adulthood.  Bud was one of three Cianchette brothers who pooled their wartime savings after serving the nation in uniform during World War Two.  Those savings became the capital with which Carl, Ken, and Bud Cianchette incorporated a new construction firm named Cianchette Bros., Inc., the forerunner of Cianbro Corporation.

“Father had a six inch pump, and a two inch pump, some wheelbarrows and hand shovels that were left for Carl.  That’s what he started the company with,” Bud remembered at the Anniversary.  He chuckled and added, “It’s grown a little.  You look at the equipment list, and they’ve added some things to it over the last 60 years, for sure.”

Throughout the company’s early years in the 1950s, Bud established himself as a natural businessman.  After the Korean War, a fourth brother, Chuck, became involved with the family business.  In the 1960s, the company began a period of substantial growth and success, with Bud rising to the presidency of the company and serving as chief negotiator and business manager, Ken assuming the role of technical innovator, and Chuck stepping in as the company’s problem solver and troubleshooter.  Together, the brothers built numerous successful projects in the Sixties, ranging from the Telstar satellite antenna facility in western Maine, to the construction of the Kenduskeag Stream canal in downtown Bangor, to major bridge projects on Interstate 95.

Bud remembered, “The company just grew and grew and grew, not that there weren’t some ups and downs.  We’ve had times, more than once, when we were hanging on, literally, by a shoestring.  By those times, we were lucky enough to own a home.  And they were the first things that went on the block.  The projects we did, we had to bond.  The company did not have the credit to do it…so that took a lot of guts.”  Mortgaging their future on behalf of the company turned out to be an act of courage that served Bud, his brothers, and their families well.

In the 1970s, the firm racked up new landmark accomplishments, including the completion of the Piscataqua River Bridge linking Maine and New Hampshire, and the expansion of the company as far south as the Mid-Atlantic region.  During this golden period for Cianbro (the company took the new name in 1970), Bud Cianchette offered steady leadership as the firm’s president.  He served in that position until 1979, at which time he became Cianbro’s Chairman.

In 1980, Bud achieved national prominence by becoming president of the Associated General Contractors of America.  AGC is the nation’s leading construction trade association, representing more than 32,000 construction firms across the United States, and working to protect the interests of the construction industry on both the federal and state level.  During his 12 month tenure, Bud led a business delegation to China as guests of the Chinese government, and had the honor of introducing President Ronald Reagan at the annual AGC convention.  Among Bud’s most pressing goals was to hold lawmakers accountable for burdensome regulations that threatened the construction industry.  “It’s obvious to all of us,” he wrote in October of 1980, “as we follow news of the industry and as we guide the day-to-day operations of our companies that a return to reason is becoming more and more necessary.  Even as we begin to make inroads in the sphere of public opinion, more and more regulations that have been in the development and implementation stages are becoming effective and further burdening our operations.  This trend cannot be changed overnight but the preliminary evidence indicates that we may have made a significant start.”

Within a few years of his AGC presidency, Bud had led Cianbro in the acquisition of Dragon Cement in Thomaston.  He ran the business for Cianbro, and later for the plant’s new owners after Cianbro sold the facility.  All the while, Bud remained on Cianbro’s Board of Directors.  By 1987, he was taking a little more time to focus on other passions in his life, for example:  raising and racing horses.  He became a racehorse owner in 1962, and his stable competed on the harness racing circuit from Maine to Florida.  Bud was a former Chairman of the Maine Harness Racing Commission.

Peter Vigue, now Cianbro’s President, Chairman and CEO, came to the company in 1970 after graduating from Maine Maritime Academy and spending a year at sea.  It was Bud who brought Vigue into the fold.

“Bud hired me as a construction worker, and served as an example of what leadership means, and what it means to pursue high standards, and to insist on excellence,” Vigue says.  “The image of our company was always a strong focus for Bud, and he was extremely proud of Cianbro’s success.  He not only served as a leader, but steered our company toward becoming a leader in the construction industry.  He wanted Cianbro to be a contributor not only to the industry, but also to society in general.  His legacy of excellence and high quality will continue to be an example for our company as the Cianbro trademark continues to grace significant construction landmarks and milestones well into the future.”

Bud is survived by his wife of 57 years, Priscilla Winslow Cianchette, his daughter Susan Koch, and his four sons, Thomas, Earle, Mark and Peter.

“I’ve got five great kids,” Bud said at the Anniversary celebration in September.  “And I have many grandchildren, and who can ask for anything better than that? …So, I don’t want anyone in the world feeling sorry for me.  That’s the last thing I want.  I want people to say, ‘He’s had a great life, and he sure appreciated it, which I do.’

Visiting hours will be held Tuesday, Nov. 10th from 1:00 pm. – 5:00 pm. at Jones, Rich & Hutchins,

199 Woodford Street

Portland, Maine.

A funeral service will be held Wednesday, Nov. 11th at 11:00 am. at the First Baptist Church, 237 Main Street, Pittsfield, Maine.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to:

The Associated General Contractors Education and Research Foundation
2300 Wilson BLVD Suite 400
Arlington, VA 22201


Opportunity Farm For Boys and Girls
P.O. Box 65
New Gloucester, ME 04260

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