On this day, December 2 in the year 1927, the builder of many museums, arenas and convention centers in the United States was born in Richmond, Virginia. His name was Alfred James Clark, a self-made construction magnate who founded Clark Enterprises, Inc.
Alfred James Clark was the son of an insurance salesman. As a child, he worked in his grandmother’s farm earning 10 cents an hour. Having a natural flair for numbers, he took up engineering at the University of Maryland and graduated in 1950. After graduation, he joined George Hyman Construction Company, a small construction firm where he rose to become president in 1969. Less than a decade later, he organized a non-unionize construction firm named Omni Construction. Soon, his name would be emblazoned in tall cranes at major construction sites in city centers.
Alfred James Clark is well-known for the ability to estimate profit and loss within minutes which he used proficiently to win big projects. He won contracts to erect prestigious buildings such as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters, Baltimore Stadium at Camden Yards, convention and trade centers in Miami, Boston and Nashville, and the Willard Hotel in Washington D.C. Yet he thought big money is not in being a contractor. He took equity, no matter how small, in most of his projects.
In 1982, Clark Enterprises was established and it took Omni and Hyman as subsidiaries. Subsequently, it diversified into shipping and air transportation business, real estate, and radio broadcasting.
Alfred James Clark died of heart failure in 2015 at the age of 87. He had three children with his wife Alice. At the time of his death, his net worth was $1.6 billion as estimated by Forbes magazine.