The Passing of SAFCEC Past President's Con Roux and Frank Cowley
Thursday, 06 August 2020
Posted by: SAFCEC Communications
It is with sadness that SAFCEC announces the recent passing of two of our past presidents, Con Roux and Frank Cowley. We convey our deepest gratitude for their contribution and service to our industry, and offer our sincere condolences to their respective friends, families and loved ones.
FRANK CROWLEY (1945 – 2020)
Mr Frank Crowley was born in Ireland on 29 January 1945 and obtained a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Ireland in Cork in 1967. He subsequently immigrated to South Africa and embarked on a successful civil engineering career.
Frank Crowley joined LTA in 1971 on contracts for roads and railways in South Africa. In 1978 he became the managing director of LTA Earthworks North and thereafter chairman. In 1986 he was appointed the managing director of LTA Earthworks Division. Two years later he became the managing director of LTA Civil and Earthworks Division and then in 1989 the chairman. In the same year he became a director of LTA and in 1996 the deputy group managing director. He was appointed Group Managing Director of LTA in 1998 and subsequently appointed as Group Managing Director of Grinaker-LTA after the acquisition of LTA by Aveng in 2000. Frank served as President of SAFCEC from 1997 to 1999. He resigned from his position in 2003, by which time he was already a Fellow of the Association of Arbitrators and brought his considerable engineering expertise and interest in the commercial side of construction contracts to bear on many prestigious projects. His wealth of engineering expertise allowed a clear insight into the problems giving rise to disputes leading to subsequent adjudications or arbitrations.
Frank never lost his Irish brogue and had a quick sense of humour and an infectious laugh. He remained a keen supporter of SAFCEC and the industry and his recent passing, following a stay in hospital, means we say goodbye to one of the doyens of the construction industry. Frank is survived by his daughter Charné and three grandchildren.
CON ROUX (1922-2020)
Con Roux, a formidable civil engineer died at the age of 97 on July 31. He was born in Stellenbosch on September 12, 1922, and grew up on the farm Libertas, just outside the town. He was the third son of Con and Emily Roux. According to one of his five sons, Con Roux Jnr, his father’s interest in all things mechanical and engineering developed in his formative years, and he used to spend hours constructing bridges, cranes, excavators and the like.
He matriculated in 1939 and proceeded to the University of Cape Town to study civil engineering, and graduated in 1943. Thereafter, he joined the South Africa Air Force, training in Tiger Moths and Harvards, receiving his wings in September of 1945.
He joined the Cape Provincial Roads Department in 1946 as a student engineer, his first posting being Oudtshoorn. A year later, at the tender age of 25, he was appointed to act as the district roads engineer for the Transkei, Kokstad, Matatiele and Umzimkulu districts in the Eastern Cape. After living in Mthatha, Con and his wife Ann moved to Middelburg, where he developed an abiding passion for the Karoo. Following a promotion, they moved to Queenstown in 1954, and later, following the birth of their twin sons, moved to Benoni in 1956 where Con began taking charge of all roads outside metropolitan areas on the Witwatersrand.
In 1958, he successfully applied for a position in the firm Darling and Hodgson to manage the expansion and re-development of the East London Airport. The family spent two happy years there, before returning to Benoni. Being independent by nature and having acquired all the necessary experience, the time came in June 1965 for him to take a giant leap of faith in order to realise his long-held dream of establishing his own company, proving that big companies can start from very humble beginnings. Early contracts were centred in and around Benoni, with the first contract being for General Electric in Van Dyk Road in Benoni. The contract price was an almost unbelievable R2 500. The second contract was for English Electric for R3 200, a bit further up Van Dyk Road. By 1970, it was evident that the firm had outgrown the Roux home office and an opportunity presented itself in the form of a five-acre plot in Atlas Road. A new office block, soils laboratory and workshops were added to the old farmhouse shortly thereafter and these premises were to remain the central hub of the company in the years to come. After initially doing industrial-type contracts, including most of the parking areas for the Pick n Pay centres on the Reef, by the mid-1970s larger contracts were being undertaken as sub-contractors to the big construction giants. Later, the business undertook larger projects, such as the earthworks on the Coega Harbour project, a portion of the N1 freeway near Musina, contracts in neighbouring countries and even an open-cast mining contract in the DRC. Many will remember the Con Roux Lego Man stationed at the site of these contracts.
Over the years, this growth necessitated the purchase of plant and equipment, as well as the employment of staff. At the peak, the company employed close to 1 000 people. Con began to involve himself in the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors, of which he was elected as President from 1983-84, and the Civil Engineering Industry Training Board. His company received several notable awards over the years, including the five-star NOSA safety rating for a number of years and several National Productivity Initiative gold awards. There was more to the company than just building roads, generating income and creating opportunities, Con was known throughout the industry for integrity, honesty, service delivery, hard work, fairness and reliability.
He is survived by an extended family of 39, including his five sons, their wives, 10 grandchildren and their spouses, and 14 great-grandchildren.