LOUISVILLE, Ky.—During his summers back home from college in the late 1960s, Buckner Hinkle Jr. worked with road construction crews for his father’s company, Hinkle Contracting Corporation, in Paris, Ky.
His interest in building things, in improving people’s quality of life, only grew stronger as the years passed, and pretty soon Hinkle was devoting his career to the field of construction.
Last week this devotion was rewarded as Hinkle, an attorney in Stites & Harbison’s Lexington office, was awarded a lifetime achievement award from the largest trade group representing the construction industry in Kentucky.
Associated General Contractors of Kentucky presented the award during a Feb. 25 ceremony at the Civic Center Ballroom in Lexington in honor of Hinkle’s four decades of service. “Buck has made many contributions to our industry that have been very special and meaningful,” said Richard Vincent, executive vice president of the group.
Vincent said the list of Hinkle's accomplishments is long. Hinkle was instrumental in formulating the Fairness in Construction Act, adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2007, Vincent said. The law covers such issues as construction disputes, timetables for payments to contractors, recovery of costs resulting from delays or bad faith, limits on retainers, and mechanics' liens.
Vincent said Hinkle also represented the association in a lawsuit against the Carter County school board claiming the district gave improper preference to union contractors when it signed a project labor agreement with a union group for the construction of an elementary school. The school board voted last October to rescind the agreement in order to eliminate delays in building the school.
Hinkle didn't even bill the association for the time he put into the lawsuit or the legislation, Vincent said. “He went above and beyond the call of duty. He's always been there for our association and for our industry.”
Kennedy Helm, Stites & Harbison’s chairman, agreed. “Buck’s dedication to the construction industry is evident every day, and we’re thrilled that AGC of Kentucky has recognized him for it,” Helm said.
Formed in 1919, AGC of Kentucky represents some 700 general contractors, subcontractors and industry associates.
Hinkle's contributions extend beyond the industry to the general public, Vincent said. “This state spends up to $2 billion per year in capital construction,” he said. “It's an important part of the economy. And if that work can be done more efficiently, if it can be done more productively, and everything doesn't have to end up in court, we all benefit. And for all those people who build, who lace up their boots every day and often fight the elements to improve the infrastructure on which we all rely every day, there needs to be someone looking out for their interests as well. Buck is that someone.”
Hinkle said he was honored to receive the award. “I’ve spent my career working with contractors. To have them recognize me, a lawyer, for work I've done for the industry is very gratifying.” Hinkle said construction is the largest industry in the world, and the people who work within the industry are the ones who take the chances necessary to move the economy forward. “I like the people,” he said. “They're both optimists and risk-takers.”
Hinkle's law practice is concentrated exclusively on construction and business litigation. He chairs Stites & Harbison’s Construction Service Group and the Sustainability & Emerging Technologies Practice Group.
Hinkle, 62, joined Stites & Harbison’s predecessor firm—Harbison, Kessinger, Lisle & Bush—in 1974, and he became a partner of the firm in 1979.
Among other accomplishments in the construction law field, Hinkle:
- Has served on the AGC Board of Directors since 2002
- Successfully litigated the first reported effort by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to avoid the claim provisions of the Fairness in Construction Act
- Helped lead the Kentucky construction industry toward sustainable (or green) construction
- Has represented nationally prominent construction companies such as Bechtel, Archer Western and Gilbane Building Company, as well as Kentucky AGC members including Gray Construction, Judy Construction, Branscum Construction, Congleton-Hacker, W. Rogers Company, and Alliance Corporation, among others
- Was one of the founding members of the Construction and Public Contract Law Committee of the Kentucky Bar Association
- Served in leadership for the American Bar Association’s Forum on the Construction Industry, including chairman of the governing committee in 2000-01
Was inducted in 1996 as a fellow in the American College of Construction Lawyers, which includes the top 1 percent of the construction bar in the United States and also includes lawyers and judges from Canada, Britain, and France.