BTB Salmon

Urbana native Kurt Salmon, president and owner of Cross Construction, is shown in his office Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, in Urbana.

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Nothing Kurt Salmon has experienced on a construction site can match the misery of the job he had between the ages 12 and 15.

“Walking beans,” he says. “Back then, there were not the herbicides that we have now. Fields were full of weeds and I was required to pull them out by the roots by hand.

“It would take you hours to make one round and it was rarely less than 90 degrees.”

That was then. This is now: In the same city where he was born and raised, the UI civil engineering grad is president and owner of Urbana’s Cross Construction, the business previously owned by his late father, Gene.

Among his most memorable moments on the job: the dual role of trustee of his dad’s estate and project manager of the construction project his father funded — Judah Christian’s Gene A. Salmon Field of Dreams athletic complex, on Rising Road.

Salmon took time out to answer a few questions from Editor Jeff D’Alessio in the 12th installment of our weekly speed read spotlighting local leaders of organizations big and small.

The hardest thing about being a leader is ... always leading by example. I screw up from time to time, but I try to own it and encourage my team to do the same — move on and do the best they can.

My business role models are ... my father, who taught me most of what I know, and my heavenly father, who provided the world’s best how-to book.

My one unbreakable rule for employees is ... be honest.

As far as the last luxury I indulged in ... I was able to partner with two other great families that share a private jet — a Gulfstream G200.

My philosophy on meetings is ... they need to be led by a capable participant, limited to one hour, and I prefer to lighten them up with injecting humor when I can.

I can’t live without my ... cellphone. I panic if I don’t feel it on my side.

My single favorite moment of all-time in this job was ... when I was able to purchase the remaining shares in Cross Construction to become the sole owner.

When it comes to my exercise routine ... since I’ve gotten older — the big 5-0 this year — I have had to give up the heavy weightlifting. Now I bike, jog or swim four or five times a week to try to keep from getting too fat.