In 2008 the Charles Pankow Foundation launched the Charles Pankow Legacy Project with the expressed purpose of memorializing Charles J. Pankow’s achievements as a builder. To this end, the Foundation funded the recording and transcription of three dozen interviews, and retained me and Christopher J. Castaneda, co-author of Builders: Herman and George R. Brown and From Texas to the East: A Strategic History of Texas Eastern Corporation as co-principal investigators to conduct them.
Owing to Professor Castaneda’s commitments as chair of the History Department at California State University, Sacramento, I conducted all of the interviews, which have been assembled in a collection, “Advancing the Construction Industry through Innovation”, on the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections site .
Satisfied that these oral histories and other material developed in the course of the project justified it, the Foundation funded the writing of a book on the history of Charles Pankow Builders, Ltd. Founded as Charles Pankow, Inc., in 1963, Founded in 1963, CPBL is a Pasadena-based design-build contractor whose hospitality, multi-unit residential, mixed-use, office, and retail projects may be found across America, but are concentrated in Honolulu, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area.
Entitled, A Better Way to Build: A History of the Pankow Companies, Purdue University Press published the book in January 2013, coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the firm. For his part, Castaneda played a key role as reader in readying the book manuscript for publication.
The Foundation also commissioned Mon Ami Media to produce a short film, Beyond the Building: The Charles J. Pankow Legacy:
Mon Ami Media was a collaboration of Nick Pankow, grandson of Charles Pankow, and Andrew Chan. The Foundation asked me to consult the filmmakers on the script.
Together, the book, the oral history collection, and the film demonstrate the value of applied history in improving organizational effectiveness and performance .
As Richard M. Kunnath, who recently stepped down as CEO of Charles Pankow Builders, says in this press release, “A Better Way to Build is a tribute not only to the founder of the Pankow Companies, but it is also a powerful study of the successful corporate culture that Charles Pankow created and which continues to inpire new ways of advancing design and construction technology and practices.”