Palm Beach Atlantic University will present its American Free Enterprise Medal to George T. Elmore, president of Hardrives, Inc., on Thursday, November 8.
The medal ceremony is set for 10:30 a.m. in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Complex for Sports & Recreation, 1100 S. Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. The ceremony is free and open to the public. For more information, call (561) 803-2025.
Elmore will be honored along with companion medalists: Joseph Anderton, Principal, EVP, Bass Underwriters; John Crossman, President and CEO, Crossman & Company; and Damien Simmons, Atlantis Pharmacy.
George T. Elmore, from New Castle, Pennsylvania, moved to Florida in 1947. He attended the University of Miami for one year and then was called to duty in the United States Army during the Korean Conflict. Upon returning, he and his wife Wilma traded in their car for a pickup truck, borrowed $3000 from his father and got started paving driveways. They used their house as an office and the back of a gas station as an operating base. Wilma kept the books while her husband worked in the field.
By the 1970s they had built Hardrives into one of the largest heavy construction companies in the area. His mother and father formed the high energy, strong work ethic and the frugality that Elmore has maintained all his life. He recalls how after each long workday, his father, a life insurance salesman, would walk three miles to town rather than pay the nickel for a trolley ride. In Elmore’s home office hangs a plaque given to him from his mother. It reads, “I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon…I want to take the calculated risk: to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed.”
Today, Hardrives has become one of the largest road construction firms in Palm Beach County and is one of South Florida’s preeminent, longest running heavy construction firms. With Elmore’s leadership, perseverance, a keen eye for opportunities and a business practiced with foresight and a genuine concern for the community, Hardrives has grown along with South Florida, constructing the major highway projects including much of I-95 and many of the major thoroughfares in South Florida.
In partnerships with affiliates, Elmore developed major residential and golf course communities throughout the area, such as Fox Trail, Caloosa and LeLac subdivisions, Mary Mount College now Lynn University, Hammock Creek Golf Community and the redevelopment of the President’s County Club, which is now Banyan Cay Golf Resort. Of more importance than the quantity of this work is the quality. Protecting the environment was of primary importance to Elmore and Hardrives.
Among the most notable of his environmental contributions was his participation in the development of Spanish River Park in Boca Raton – the first oceanfront park in South Florida which protected and preserved trees and dunes in their natural state. As the original contractor in the project, Elmore is proud that the park was rewarded with national awards and a presidential citation.
For over 40 years, Elmore has spent much of his time committed to civic, educational and cultural organizations in the Palm Beach County area having served on over 30 boards. His philanthropic impact can be seen everywhere in the community. His many philanthropic endeavors include the Kravis Center’s Elmore Family Foundation for the Arts, Max Planck Institute, Scripps Research Institute, Lynn University, Bethesda Hospital, WPBT Channel 2, Florida Atlantic University, Community Foundation of Palm Beach & Martin County and the Gulf Stream Council of Boy Scouts. As the Palm Beach County community looks back at Elmore’s life and career, it is apparent that his contributions are very important if not immediately visible.
Elmore is a firm believer in the free enterprise system and that “You need to put back into the community what the community has done for you.”
American Free Enterprise Day is a tradition at Palm Beach Atlantic since the first celebration took place in 1984. Previous medal recipients include David C. Novak, co-founder retired chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands Inc., 2017; Kenneth Langone, founder of Invemed Associates and co-founder of The Home Depot, 2016; Leo A. Vecellio, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Vecellio Group, Inc., 2015; Arthur L. Williams, Jr., A.L. Williams & Associates, 2014; Tim Gannon, a co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, Inc., 2013; Brian P. Burns, BF Enterprises Inc., 2012; H. Wayne Huizenga, Jr., Huizenga Holdings, Inc., 2011; Edward M. Kobel, DeBartolo Development, LLC, 2010; John D. MacArthur, insurance and real estate entrepreneur, 2009; John M. Gregory, SJ Strategic Investments, LLC, 2008; Karl H. Watson, CEMEX, 2007; Stuart W. Epperson, Salem Communications Corporation, 2004; Sam Moore, Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2003; Joseph R. Gregory, Kingsway LLC, 2002; Lester J. Woerner, Woerner Holdings, Inc, 2001; Rich DeVos, 2000, Orlando Magic; John J. Brogan, 1999; Thomas R. Pledger, Dycom Industries, 1998; Carl DeSantis, Rexall Sundown, Inc., 1997; Lowell “Bud” Paxson, Paxson Communications Corp., 1996; Richard S. Johnson, Johnson Investment Group, 1995; David Mahoney, Charles A. Dana Foundation, 1994; William G. Lassiter, Jr., W.G. Lassiter Co., Inc., 1993; Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., The Dreyfoos Group, 1992; S. Bradford “Skeet” Rymer, Jr., Magic Chef, 1991; S. Truett Cathy, Chick-Fil-A, 1990; Stewart Morris, Stewart Information Services Corp. and the Hugh J. Andersen Foundation, 1989; Frederick M. Supper, Alexander Proudfoot Co., 1988; Henry J. Rolfs, Downtown/Uptown West Palm Beach, 1987; Theodore R. Johnson, United Parcel Service, 1986; Marshall E. Rinker, Sr., Rinker Materials Corp., 1985; and Sir John M. Templeton, Templeton World Funds Ltd., 1984.