Engineering firm was subcontractor on President’s House
Pride is evident when Lawrence O. Dibor, president of Adcon Consultants Inc., describes his firm’s role on the President House commemorative site.
Adcon Consultants served as the civil engineering subcontractor for the President’s House under the project architect, Kelly/Maiello Management, LLC.
The exhibit located at 6th and Market Streets, commemorates the lives of nine Black Americans who toiled as slaves at the house where George Washington and John Adams served as presidents. The exhibit opened last December, after a five-year process.
Sixty-seven percent of the subcontracting opportunities in the project’s construction phase were awarded to minority- and women-owned businesses, including six African-American owned firms, one Hispanic American firm and five firms owned by women.
Dibor, a Nigerian native, views working on the project as a badge of honor.
“The opportunity to actually honor my ancestors was incredible. It is a very big deal for us,” said Dibor, who considers the President’s House as the most significant historical projects that his company has undertaken.
Dibor has successfully built his full service design and construction support company into a firm that handles a diverse array of projects in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York. Adcon’s portfolio includes clients such as the Philadelphia Naval Business Center, the School District of Philadelphia and the city of Philadelphia.
It’s been no easy feat, but Dibor has been able to keep the company thriving over the last 14 years due to his broad background as an architect and an engineer.
“If I had to speak frankly, it has been very challenging, however because I’ve been around for a long time, I’ve been able to handle it a little better,” said Dibor, who has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry.
“We’ve been able to succeed, to survive because of the background and knowledge that I have. I’ve been blessed to have been associated with some of the experts in the industry so that was a very big plus.”
Prior to starting Adcon, Dibor worked for large architectural and engineering firms such as Day & Zimmerman, Inc. He has background in designing and managing large commercial, healthcare, transportation, industrial, education and aviation and correctional facilities.
As a newly appointed member of the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Construction Industry Diversity, Dibor wants to see some significant inroads made for minority contractors and minorities within the workforce.
In 2009, the mayor’s advisory commission released a detailed report that contained recommendations to increase minority, female and disabled construction contractors and suggestions to increase minorities and women in the construction workforce.
He views the commission’s reports and recommendations as a good beginning.
“I commend the reports because they are a good start and will lay a foundation of what will become a solution for increasing the inclusion of minority businesses in the construction industry,” Dibor said.
In addition to working on issues facing minority contractors, Dibor wants to address the high drop out rate of African Americans and Latinos within the School District of Philadelphia.
“The drop out crisis in Philadelphia high schools is a very challenging problem for all of us,” Dibor said. “Arlene Ackerman, superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, has done well, given the challenges she has faced, as well as budget cuts and the economy.”
Dibor has developed a proposal to start a mentoring and training program in Philadelphia high schools. The program’s mission is to increase the number of minority high school graduates who obtain a college degree or technical employment in an engineering, construction or manufacturing firm.
Participating students would be provided with hands on experience; learn the requirements of becoming a licensed professional engineer or certified technician and interact with professionals such as architects, engineers, construction managers and tradesmen. Students would participate in the program throughout their four years in high school.
If the program were successfully implemented, Dibor says participating students would finish with basic skills that would be sellable to firms in the construction industry.
“I think that this is definitely a good vision on Mr. Dibor’s part. It is so necessary because we are facing a lost generation of kids,” Sherwood Gardner, an Adcon associate said in reference to the proposed program.
The company has been successful at impacting young individuals who aspire to careers in engineering design by working with Temple and Drexel universities to hire students as a part of a co-op program.
In addition to his work in the construction industry, Dibor leads an active civic life. He has served on the board of directors of the African American Museum of Philadelphia where he’s helped to connect the African immigrant community with the overall African-American community. Dibor is the founder and interim president of the Igbo-Nigerian Community Organization, Delaware Valley.
Dibor is also a member of professional organizations such as The Union League; American Society of Civil Engineers; Institute of British Engineers; the Chartered Institute of Builders, London; the Institute of Management; the Construction Specification Institute; the Construction Management Association of America, the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials and the Engineer’s Club of Philadelphia.
Dibor is married to Dr. Chichi Dibor, and they are the parents of two daughters and a son.