August 19 2022 0Comment

Paul Little Recognized as ABC’s 2022 Most Admired CEO

Alston Construction's Paul Little has guided his firms through challenging markets. He's doing it again.

For Alston Construction Co. CEO Paul Little, the industry has rarely been more challenging. As the economy wobbles on the edge of a possible recession, his customers are seeking assurances that aren’t possible under the current market conditions.

Little spent 31 years at Turner Construction Co., the firm that built office towers across the city including Buckhead’s Three Alliance Center. Then, Little navigated Panattoni Construction through the 2008 downturn by making key changes that included diversifying its project portfolio. In 2014, the company changed its name to Alston Construction, and over time Little has developed a culture at the firm that celebrates the success of everyone.

In the weeks before our Most Admired event, the Chronicle wants to share reflections on leadership from this year’s honorees.
The answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

When did you feel your sense of purpose begin to truly emerge?

Sometime during 2002, working for some of the most desirable clients in the market. Emory University, Turner Broadcasting, UGA, Georgia Tech and the Sea Island Co. Our client base was defining our reputation. Expectations of our performance were high and it was rewarding to enjoy strong relationships with the leadership teams of these organizations. Even with this success, I knew that there was far more to accomplish, and it wasn’t solely on achieving financial outcomes. Instead, I began to focus on our people, their professional and personal development and fulfillment. I soon learned that this only enhanced the quality of our service and our reputation. When you genuinely care for your people and treat them accordingly, they will treat the company well and take good care of your clients and friends. These are the things that provide lasting value to the organization.

What decision have you made as a leader that required the most courage?

Aside from changing jobs after 31 years with the same company that I started with straight out of college, I would say it had to do with working to transform Alston from what was essentially an integrated contractor with a large developer into a first tier diversified general contractor — at the beginning of the Great Recession. We reduced our footprint significantly and invested in pre-construction staff and services. We added staff with fundamental business skills to support a decentralized strategy, with autonomy and accountability. This transformation involved many challenging days and took much longer than I expected.

When you begin your work for the day, what is the one thing you always do first?

I like good old fashioned “to do” lists. I also like to check on our people that might be dealing with or enduring some challenging situations.

What is the most urgent issue that Atlanta business leadership must united around?

Primarily social issues. Crime is a big one. It has the attention of our current leadership, but I’m not sure we have the resources to get things back under control any time soon. The challenges with gang-related crime and gun violence are out of control. It does not go unnoticed by the national media and visiting corporate executives.

Source: From Atlanta Business Chronicle linked