Byrne to be honored with Spirit of Enterprise Award

John Avila Jr. 

Byrne Construction Services, founded n 1923 and general contractor for many of the city’s most famous structures, will be honored with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Chairman’s Spirit of Enterprise Award at the Chamber’s 136th annual meeting June 7 at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, the chamber announced Thursday, May 24.

The annual award, launched in 1975 and sponsored by BNSF Railway, recognizes a local company that has made significant contributions to Fort Worth’s development. The Chamber’s four most recent chairmen select the recipient.

“When you look at Fort Worth, you see Byrne,” said Chamber President and CEO Bill Thornton. “They were founded by a great Fort Worthian, Thomas S. Byrne. They’ve been the general contractor for historic projects such as the original construction of the Montgomery Ward headquarters on West Seventh corridor in 1928 and its renovation as Montgomery Plaza in 2004.

“Byrne built the Exchange Building, two iconic museums in the Cultural District, the Sid Richardson Museum downtown, the Kress building, many projects in Sundance Square and other landmarks. Their commitment to community is just as impressive. Their support and leadership mean everything to many civic and charitable initiatives,” Thornton said in a news release announcing the honor.

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Chairman and past President and CEO John Avila, Jr., a retired National Guard brigadier general, philanthropist and scholar, said the company was “humbled and honored.”

“To be recognized by the selection committee comprised of the current and past chairmen representing Fort Worth businesses, confirms that our company is committed to being involved in the economic development and growth of our city. We could not be prouder,” Avila said in the press release.

Avila bought Byrne in 1995 from second-generation owners. Under his leadership, Byrne has transitioned to a family-run enterprise, expanded to Avila’s hometown of San Antonio and diversified its interests. Strong portfolios have been added in the aviation, municipal, healthcare, historic restoration, education and high-end residential markets.

Byrne is the largest Fort Worth-based construction firm and the largest Hispanic-owned general contractor.

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Byrne’s community service runs the gamut from involvement with the American Heart Association and Tarrant County Mental Health Association to The Art Station, a Fort Worth nonprofit mental health agency specializing in art therapy, that was founded and is run by Avila’s wife, Jane, a licensed clinical social worker, the news release said.