Don L. Short II, a nationally known cost estimating expert and a prolific crusader for fundamentals in the practice, died June 8 in Omaha. He was 60 years old and had been diagnosed with liver cancer several weeks earlier.
Short was president and founder of The Tempest Co., an Omaha estimating firm and consultant. He also was a two-term past president and Fellow of the American Society of Professional Estimators.
Known for his bluntness, Short authored numerous articles and opinions that appeared regularly on ENR.com and in ENR, inspiring comment and controversy. He was often quoted in ENR’s quarterly Cost Reports. He signed off all his blogs with an afterthought starting with the words, "Oh, by the way."
In one notable viewpoint commentary, Short counted up the number of re-charging stations that would be needed for widespread use of electric cars on a major interstate highway as a way to show that the vehicles were more of a way to create profit for builders of the needed car infrastructure than a realistic means of saving energy.
Short was an inconoclast, a curmudgeon and a conservative by nature, but he also was a fierce advocate for the project as a collective venture to be held above any stakeholder’s narrow interest.
“Many owners wanted him on their side when dealing with contractors, but contractors also wanted him on their side,” said his son, Justin, who succeeds Short as president of the firm. “He didn’t care about anything but the project, or anyone else’s agenda. He was there to get the right answer for the project.” Justin’s wife, Jaime, serves as Tempest Co.’s marketing director.
Born in Richland, Wash., Short went into estimating because he did not care for outdoor work. He came to Omaha with Kiewit Co. as an estimator and later launched Tempest Co. in the basement of his home in 1981.
In one last phone call, Short told ENR that he was ill and that his popular blog would be ending when he expected to die in about a month. Until then, he expected to carry on as usual. Short's final estimate was uncharacteristically and understandably optimistic, missing the prediction by several weeks.