Morley Builders has named Charles Muttillo, a 28-year veteran of the Santa Monica, Calif., building firm and vice president of general contracting operations, as president to succeed President and CEO Mark Benjamin, who died Sept. 29 in the crash of his private plane at the city’s airport.
The firm’s board announced the succession in an Oct. 4 statement obtained by ENR.
Benjamin was piloting a small plane that crashed on landing at that city's municipal airport, killing him and his son, Lucas, a 28-year-old senior project engineer at the firm who had worked there for four years.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board resumed their probe of the crash site on Oct. 18, when the federal goverment shutdown ended after two weeks.
There is also no confirmation to speculation that the Cessna Citation aircraft may have suffered a tire blowout and hit a hangar that collapsed on the plane, creating a jet fuel-generated inferno.
Media reports say the county coroner has officially identified both Benjamins, and two other passengers, Lauren Winkler, 28, of Irvine, Calif. and Kyla Dupont, 53, of San Diego.
“Our management team is committed to upholding and furthering Mark’s vision for the company to remain employee-owned and financially strong,” said the Morley statement, issued by board chairman Bertram Lewitt.
Benjamin, 63, was flying the plane from a home in Idaho, says Michael Holland, executive vice president of the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE), a group that accredits college and university construction education programs and in which Benjamin had long been involved.
In an earlier statement on its website, Morley Builders said Benjamin "had a profound influence on each of our employees, the Southern California landscape, our local community, and the construction industry. We are committed to building on his legacy."
According to a biography obtained by ENR, Morley also is one of southern California's largest structural concrete subcontractors and specialized in seismic upgrades.
Mark Benjamin joined the firm, begun in 1947 by his father Morley Benjamin, in 1972. He became president in 1981 and chair in 1997.
Muttillo is vice chair of the Santa Monica Building and Safety Commission and was a past president of the University of Southern California Architectural Guild.
According to Holland, Benjamin also was a trustee and past president of ACCE and was currently heading up a reorganization effort that was aimed at better involving construction industry managers and adding them to its board.
"He was passionate about education and a great contributor of time and talent to ACCE," Holland told ENR. "We were blessed with his involvement."
Adds Allan J. Hauck, ACCE vice president and construction management department head at California State University, San Luis Obispo: “For decades now, Mark Benjamin has been an unselfish supporter of construction education and numerous other causes about which he was passionate. He has had a lasting influence on the education of future professionals in this field."
In a 2001 ENR story, Benjamin said that too few industry firms were willing to participate in education efforts, "because the benefit is perceived as distant, because it's not going to help tomorrow's job or tomorrow's bid."
Morley Builders hired a number of employees from ACCE-accredited schools, says Holland.
In a statement, the U.S. Green Building Council said that Benjamin "was a visionary and a true leader in the built environment," noting that it has cited several of Morley's projects for sustainability innovation.
Benjamin also was past chair of the Santa Monica Building & Safety Commission and former vice president of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce.
Holland says Benjamin also has another son, Matthew, who is an astrophysics professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder.