Ab Conner '64

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Band of Brothers: Ab Conner, Gamma Alpha #1170, Makes Leadership Gift Out of Friendship

It's a story of brotherhood. Brother Ab Conner, Gamma Alpha #1170, initiated in 1964 is truly a great Brother. Ab has fond memories of his days in the Gamma Alpha Chapter, and those memories just keep on coming because even today his best friends are Sigma Nu brothers. Those lifelong friendships prompted Ab to commit to a Leadership Gift to the Building the Future Campaign. He considers his gift one way to give back to the chapter that played such a pivotal role in his life.

"This is not an investment in a new house," Ab said. "This is not about brick and mortar. This is about an investment in young men....helping them to achieve their potential. This is my way to ensure future Sigma Nus can enjoy the same brotherhood and camaraderie that meant so much to me."

Ab stays in touch with many brothers, including Carey Huff, GA #1138, Eddy Hooks, GA # 1163, Phil Armstrong, GA #1089, Chester Stokes, GA #1137, Phil Gingrey, GA #1130, Bill Redmond, GA #1062, Frank Spears, GA #1326, Bob Rhinehart GA #1086 and Jerry Cox, GA #1057. He says, "They are among my best friends and would do anything for me, as I would for them." These friendships, he says, represent the greatest benefits of his Sigma Nu membership. "I love those guys, in a brotherly kind of way," he says.

Ab enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1962 and graduated in the spring of 1966, "on time believe it or not," he says. "I did not pledge Sigma Nu until the fall of 1963, which might explain why I was able to stay on track (just kidding)." He joined because he was impressed with the chapter's reputation around campus, and because the men made him feel welcome. "I am thankful that I waited to pledge and that I found a home there," he says.

Ab lived in the house for several quarters, with his last stop in the "Red Room,"where he roomed with Carey Huff, Eddy Hooks, Stewart Gray, GA #1147 and a cat named Seagram. He says his favorite memories are the road trips and house parties, shouting "AWRIGHT, AWRIGHT, AWRIGHT" with Roy Denny, GA #1087"

The young man who used to be front and center at fraternity parties is now Chairman/CEO of Conner Bros. Construction Co., Inc. and its related development companies. The construction company was started by Ab's grandfather and his brother in 1916. Ab joined the company in their Atlanta office in 1966, when his father was running the company along with his two cousins. They kept this office for 10 years, then consolidated back to the company's headquarters in Auburn. Ab now owns the company with his younger brother Don.

"I have a son who is the broker of one of our two realty companies and who is involved in our development projects and also a son-in-law who is the CFO of all of our operations," he notes, explaining the family orientation of his business. "Our construction company has built a lot of buildings and other facilities on military bases in the southeast, but mainly at Ft. Benning where we have been working since 1978. As you might expect, we have built many buildings on the Auburn University campus, but also built two of the Aerospace Engineering buildings at Georgia Tech."

Conner Bros. Construction Co. has also built five buildings at West Georgia College, two major projects at Columbus College and buildings at many other colleges. They have also built many hospitals, K-12 schools and a world class museum of fine arts during Ab's 41 years there. Currently, the business is developing three residential communities and a commercial tract in Auburn, with about 1,300 acres in Auburn yet to be developed.

"We recently started our most ambitious project, which is a 700 acre residential resort community on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail," Ab says. "It's a joint venture with the Retirement Systems of Alabama. It adjoins a 1,500 acre tract that already contains 54 holes of championship golf, a 600 acre lake and a Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. We are serving as the developer, contractor and realtor for the project that we hope will contain 1,400 units and a town center."

Ab is a force to be reckoned with in Alabama politics. He is committed to the Workforce Investment Board, which supports workers in all but two counties in Alabama. He is the agency's first and only chairman. "During the past seven years, we have obtained more than $300 million in federal funds that have been used for workforce training in Alabama," he notes with pride.

In addition, Ab served on the Alabama Commerce Commission and was Chairman of the Business Council of Alabama. He also chaired the Business Council's Political Action Committee that helped to influence the political balance of the Alabama Supreme Court. "We also accomplished major tort reform and franchise tax reform during my term as Chairman," he says.

Ab was inducted in Georgia Tech's College of Engineering Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni in 1996. He was a founding member of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board and continues to serve as an emeritus member. He is currently on the Georgia Tech Alumni Board of Trustees, and has held leadership positions in his church, with the local hospital foundation and with other charitable efforts in the community.

Ab is currently single, after two marriages, and he notes that he now has "a wonderful lady in my life." He has three married children and six grandchildren, ages 6-12. "I feel very blessed in that department," he says. His hobbies include golf, water skiing, snow skiing, working out to stay fit and following Jacket sports.