William (Bill) Boyd Burgett, the founder of Kokosing Construction Co. in Fredericktown, OH, died Thursday at age 85.
In a 2012 News Journal article, Burgett acknowledged he founded today's multi-million dollar Kokosing Construction Company Inc., but the successful entrepreneur said he had a lot of help along the way.
"(Kokosing) is the result of other people joining the company and having dreams," Burgett said then. "Without them, there'd be no construction company today, because it's not a one-man or single-family operation. It's a network."
Starting with little more than a wheelbarrow, ladder, a few tools and his trusted friend and first employee Lester Rinehart, Burgett nurtured the Fredericktown-based company into a national name in the construction field. Kokosing was ranked 57th in the Top 400 U.S. contractors in 2011 by Engineering News-Record. The company operates five divisions and five subsidiary/affiliate companies in several states across the country.
For his clear vision of "turning work into jobs," his creativity, boldness of purpose and community involvement, Burgett was deemed an example of business excellence in 2006 and inducted into the North Central Ohio Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame. He was one of 34 members honored by the North Central State College Foundation.
When he started the business, though, Burgett wasn't thinking of an empire. He just wanted to provide for his family: his new wife, Shirley (Ackerman) Burgett, and eventually their five children: Valerie, Brian, Marsha, Brad and Barth.
Today, the Kokosing companies employ nearly 3,000 people and include Olen, Kokosing Materials, Kokosing Industrial, McGraw/Kokosing, Corna Kokosing and Integrity Kokosing, according to his obituary at Snyder Funeral Homes.
Burgett was active in the construction industry at both the state and national levels. Among his fellow contractors, he was known for being a mobilizer and political advocate. He was a past president of the Ohio Contractors Association and the National Utility Contractors Association; past board member of the Ohio Operating Engineers Apprenticeship Fund and the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA); and past chairman of Flexible Pavements of Ohio. During his time on the board of Flexible Pavements, he established a scholarship fund that has awarded to date, over 408 scholarships for students in pursuit of a civil engineering degree. Bill was honored to travel to the Soviet Union representing the United States in the Citizen’s Ambassador Program in light construction technology.
Throughout his life, Bill believed in giving back to his community, as evidenced by his leadership in building the Fredericktown Community Library, the Waterford Church Family Life Center, Sockman Lake, the Fredericktown Gazebo, Hospice of Knox County and many other local community projects, according to his obituary.