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UA Business Hall of Fame 2017: Gus M. Vratsinas

4 min read

Son of immigrant parents, Gus Vratsinas is the second American-born member of his family. They all worked hard and treasured the heritage of their Greek ancestry, but also fully embraced the belief that in America — and in Arkansas — a person could truly live the American Dream.

Born June 14, 1944, in Little Rock, it didn’t take long for the son of John and Fotini Vratsinas to figure out he wanted to be a builder. Vratsinas lived with his family at Markham and Cedar in Little Rock, across the street from the construction site for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. The big machinery and even bigger buildings would fill the dreams of the young Arkansan and fire in him a passion for building that continues to this day.

Vratsinas, his brother Pete and sister Anna, saw their parents work hard and learned from them to give back to their community. Through his parents, Vratsinas got an early grounding in his Greek heritage and the Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Church.

At the University of Arkansas, he earned a bachelor of science in civil engineering in 1967 and a master of science in civil engineering in 1968. He is a Registered Professional Engineer with more than 45 years of experience.

Vratsinas is a builder of award winning shopping malls, theatre complexes, university buildings, office and residential towers, hotels, and much more. The company he co-founded — Vratsinas Construction Company (VCC ) — grew to be one of the top 100 in revenue in America. Vratsinas has managed companies that have built more than $15 billion in construction projects.

He served as a captain in the U.S. Army in Korea in 1968 and came home to Arkansas to work as an engineer with Pickens-Bond Construction Co. He has said he took the lowest paying job offered to him at that time in order to stay in Arkansas. He worked for Pickens-Bond until 1986, when he and his wife Irene formed VCC with Sam Alley and Ed DeMoss.

Over the years, Vratsinas has been involved with almost every kind of large-scale construction project — industrial, retail, commercial, health care, residential, high-rise and institutional. The projects have ranged from shopping mall renovations to campus construction projects at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Central Arkansas and Henderson State.

Vratsinas’ companies have built or renovated office buildings, retail shopping centers, theater complexes and lodging facilities across the United States. The company was registered and licensed in all 50 states and built and renovated large scale commercial buildings such as a hotel and mixed-use property for Simon Property Group, shopping malls for General Growth Properties and movie theaters for AMC Entertainment. Engineer News-Record ranked the company as one of the top 100 contractors in the United States.

Vratsinas is now chairman of Bailey Construction and Consulting LLC of Little Rock, which started in April 2011 when he teamed up with Bob Bailey. Bailey Construction’s website says the 72-year-old Vratsinas sets the culture, philosophy and mission for the company and leads by example to set a high bar for every Bailey Construction employee.

Though he leaves his work at the office, he remains busy.

A self-described “glutton for punishment,” Vratsinas rarely turns away requests from anyone he believes he can help. One project Vratsinas has been especially dedicated to is Easter Seals in Arkansas. Easter Seals honored him as Arkansan of the Year in 2011. He remains on the Easter Seals Arkansas board, where he has served since 1996. He was chairman of that board in 1999 and 2001.

In addition to his longtime work with Easter Seals, he has been on the board of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra Society since 1985 and as president 1993-1995; a Fifty for the Future member since 1984; a United Way of Pulaski County board member since 1983, campaign chairman in 1985 and 1986, chairman of board 1987 and 1988; Quapaw Area Council Boy Scouts of America, council president 1982 and 1983; Little Rock Wastewater Utility Commission member 1977-1989, chairman 1984-1986; Visiting Nurses Association, chairman 1991-1994; Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, board member for three, three-year terms; American Red Cross, board member 1989-1995; Order of AHEPA, district governor 1977-1978; Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Little Rock, board member 1972-1986 and 1988-1996, president of the board for 20 years; Arkansas Economic Development Commission, 1984-1992; Arkansas Economic Development Foundation since 1985, president 1998-present; Arkansas Community Health & Education Foundation, 1999-present; president 2002-present; St. Vincent Development Foundation, 1998-2008, chairman 2003-2007; Arkansas Heart Association board member 2003-2004; Pulaski Academy board member, 2005-present; St. Vincent Health System board member 2007-2010; Little Rock Visitor Foundation board member 1996-2002; The Nature Conservancy board member, chairman 2006-present; Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission 2016-present; Hellenic College/Holy Cross, Brookline, Massachusetts trustee 2012-present, and advisory board member, U.S. Bank.

He was inducted into the Arkansas Chapter Associated General Contractors of America Hall of Fame in 2006 and the University of Arkansas Engineering Hall of Fame in 2000 and honored as a Life Board Member by Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in 2000 and as Engineer of the Year by the Arkansas Society of Professional Engineers in 1985. He was named to the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineers in 1987, to the Leadership 100 of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Americas in 1999, as Archon of the Order of St. Andrew of the Patriarchate of Greek Orthodox Church in 2002 and was awarded the Silver Beaver by the Boy Scouts of America in 1985. He received the Philanthropy Award in 1999 and the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2004. He was also named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club as its 2004 Business & Professional of the Year.

He and Irene, have two children — John and Christina — and five grandchildren – Megan Vratsinas, Michael Vratsinas, Sophia Vratsinas, Will Martin and Kate Martin.

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