With the recent passing of Peter (“Pete”) Getchell, our industry and the company that he led for over twenty years, PKF-Mark III, Inc (“PKF”), has lost an iconic leader, and a strong and supportive voice. Pete grew up in Long Island, NY and went on to attain a civil engineering degree from Notre Dame in 1969. Upon graduation, his first job was with Chicago Bridge and Iron, where he entered and completed their engineering training program. Subsequently, he worked for other construction firms in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area before starting with PKF as a Project Superintendent in 1981. As he rose through the ranks of PKF, he often led its largest bridge and highway projects, while at the same time demonstrating ever greater leadership potential. In 1992 and for the following 20 years, Pete served as PKF’s president and then CEO.
While president at PKF, Pete led with an openness to new ideas, a commitment to self-perform critical work on our projects, and a dramatic belief in and loyalty to PKF’s employees. During his years of leadership, the company initiated—with great success— its own performance of, among others, electrical, foundations, and marine work. Pete also instituted and was a strong proponent of PKF’s leadership committee structure, as well as our CareerBuilder and Incentive Compensation structures. Pete was a firm believer in the need for his company and our industry to recruit, mentor, and promote next generation craftspersons and management, and to move them into responsible positions as they grow and learn. He also led PKF in the pursuit of a number of environmentally healthy initiatives, including a solar array at the company’s Ottsville equipment yard and the purchase of a significant percentage of hybrid vehicles. In later years, Pete was thrilled to drive an all-electric Tesla.
During his tenure at PKF, Pete became a staunch leader in the construction industry. Pete was fully engaged with the New Jersey Utility and Transportation Contractors Association, serving as a board member from 1988 through 2014, and as its president from 1995 to 1996. In addition, Pete served as a board member of the American Road and Transportation Association, and recently was that association’s Contractors Division president. Pete was known within the UTCA for his passion for contracting and fair dealing and personally enjoyed the very enriching friendships that were spurred on by his involvement with the UTCA and ARTBA.
Pete’s love for his work and our industry was only exceeded by his love for his best friend and wife of 46 years, Catherine. They together enjoyed all of their animals and restoration of their farm in Bedminster, PA. In March, family and friends gathered to remember Pete in a celebration of his life, with many stories fondly told about his impact and legacy in our industry.
Along with his family, all of PKF misses their friend, leader, mentor, and inspiration for so many years.