Some Assembly Desired

Building memories with Barry Connor.

Barry Connor often has building on his mind. That’s not surprising for the CEO of Connor & Gaskins Unlimited. The contracting company he co-founded with Craig Gaskins nine years ago has established a sterling reputation for creating exceptional hotels, resorts, medical facilities, commercial developments and homes from the Keys to Colorado. “A lot of people don’t know that we’re operating in 28 states right now,” he says. “We’re doing stuff all over the U.S.”

That level of success takes a lot of organization and effort, but even when he’s off the clock, Connor, 50, isn’t likely to be found crashing on the couch and catching up on Netflix. He relishes the chance to do projects that are a little more hands-on.

“I’ve always loved building things,” he says. “I love anything with an engine in it. With the energy and the pace of the company, I find it very important, and it allows me to think clearly about different things.”

Some of those projects are functional and practical, such as the stylish custom pontoon boat he and Gaskins built a few years ago–now the families can use it to head down to the Keys whenever they like. Others are more decorative, from tables and light fixtures for the C&G office to a BD-5 microjet like the one James Bond used for a quick getaway in Octopussy. “It’s a static plane,” Connor says. “We’re not flying it, but we’ve got it hanging in the office. Eventually, I’d like to hang it at a house that I would build and hang all this stuff in it; that’s my goal.” He also hopes to get its wing signed someday by aerospace engineer Burt Rutan.

The best endeavors involve his wife and five children. “Right now, our current project is a big radial engine (commonly used in aircraft) that we picked up–it was built in 1940, basically a WWII motor–that we’re restoring. Jacob, my older son, is welding on it, and [I saw] it’s kind of wiggly, and I thought, ‘You know what? That’s the most beautiful weld I’ve ever seen.’ Because that weld’s always going to be there, and I know that Jacob did that weld. It not being perfect and him learning is more special to me than a perfect weld that I might have put on it.”