March 4, 2010

Cianbro's 'Bud' Cianchette dies at 83


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Ivan ‘Bud’ Cianchette

Staff Writer

Ival ''Bud'' Cianchette, retired owner and president of Cianbro Corp. and a legend in Maine's harness-racing circles, died Friday from liver cancer. He was 83.

Cianchette, one of four brothers who founded Cianbro Corp. in 1949, began the company with a two-bag cement mixer, an old truck, some wheelbarrows and a handful of shovels. Today, Cianbro exceeds $450 million in annual sales and employs more than 2,500 people, due largely to Cianchette's vision, leadership and dedication.

''He was a wonderful man and a great leader,'' said Peter Vigue, chairman and CEO of Cianbro Cos., based in Pittsfield. ''He was a serious individual who was very focused. When he spoke, everyone listened. He had a tremendous integrity and gained the respect of people not only within the company, but in the community and across the state.''

In the 1960s, Cianbro succeeded and grew with projects like the Telstar satellite antenna facility in western Maine and the Kenduskeag Stream canal in downtown Bangor.

Cianchette became president of the company and served as its chief negotiator and business manager.

During the 1970s, Cianbro racked up new accomplishments, including the completion of the Piscataqua River Bridge linking Maine and New Hampshire. The Cianchettes expanded the company's work as far south as the mid-Atlantic region.

In 1980, Cianchette achieved national prominence by becoming president of the Associated General Contractors of America, the nation's leading construction trade association, representing more than 32,000 construction companies.

During his year as president, Cianchette led a business delegation to China and introduced President Ronald Reagan at the group's annual convention.

During that time, he led Cianbro's acquisition of Dragon Cement in Thomaston. He ran the business for Cianbro, and later for the new owner after Cianbro sold the plant.

Several members of Maine's congressional delegation issued statements of condolence Friday.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and former Gov. John McKernan Jr. said he was a tremendous friend and a titan of his industry.

''Bud's legacy at Cianbro, like that of his brothers, was unmistakable as he exemplified Maine's legendary work ethic and can-do spirit,'' Snowe and McKernan said in a prepared statement. ''He instilled in the culture of Cianbro what his family had taught him -- the time-honored values of mutual respect, self-reliance, the dignity derived from doing an honest day's work, and at the end of the day, the obligation to give something back to your community.''

Cianchette served on Cianbro's board of directors until his death.

At Cianbro's 60th anniversary celebration last month, he told an audience of more than 400 employees that he had led a charmed life.

''In my obituary, if anyone writes one, it should say, 'The luckiest man in the world just left us.' If you feel sorry, you can't feel sorry for me,'' Cianchette told the crowd.

Cianchette was a prominent horseman and a former chairman of the state's harness racing commission. He owned a farm in Pittsfield and converted stalls in his barn to house horses. Then he installed a half-mile training track behind the barn.

He founded Cianchette Stables, which bred, raised and trained hundreds of Standardbred horses that raced at tracks from Maine to Florida for nearly 50 years. His favorite races were at Maine's agricultural fairs.

On Oct. 3, Cianchette was the grand marshal of the Cumberland County Fair parade, where he was honored for his support of harness racing. Events in Cianchette's honor raised more than $7,000, which was donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Cianchette and his wife, Priscilla, recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary.

Peter Cianchette, one of his five children, said his parents had a classic love affair. They met in a doctor's office, where she, then 19 years old, was a medical secretary. Cianchette, then 26, had an appointment.

''I believe it was love at first sight,'' said Peter Cianchette, who served in the state Legislature, ran for governor in 2002 and later served as U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica. ''They had a wonderful relationship and complemented each other so nicely. They had such respect for each other and worked so nicely as a team together. He absolutely adored my mother.''

Peter Cianchette, who is now Cianbro's vice president of business development, said, ''He was truly the most wonderful father anyone could have hoped to have. He was generous beyond belief -- generous with his time, with his talents, and with his love.''

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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