In Person: Calhoun Construction's John Hinshaw tackles multimillion-dollar projects, back-country hiking and family in measured steps

May 17, 2017, 3:00pm EDT

The $238 million KFC Yum Center has become a fixture in downtown Louisville, and it also stands prominent in the mind of one of the people behind the construction of the 721,000-square-foot home to University of Louisville basketball, concerts and other events.

John Hinshaw was the was senior project manager for M. A. Mortenson Co., the general contractor for the Yum Center, when the arena was built about a decade ago.

Hinshaw says it is his favorite project, beating out other major sports arenas he helped oversee.

Despite the pressures of building a huge and intricate structure with a fixed deadline, Hinshaw wouldn’t do anything else, fueled by his sports fandom and love for creating.

“I just think building buildings is fun,” Hinshaw said in an interview.

Now, Hinshaw is the president of Louisville-based Calhoun Construction Services Inc.

He joined the company in September 2013 as the operations manager under then-president Kevin Harpring. Hinshaw became the president of the company in January 2016.

An Indianapolis native and big Indiana Pacers fan, Hinshaw jumped at the opportunity to work for Hunt Construction Group in 1997 to help build the Pacers’ then-new arena, Conseco Fieldhouse (now Bankers Life Fieldhouse). He’d graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering with an emphasis in structures and a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering and management.

That appears to have set a precedent for Hinshaw’s early career and time with Hunt Construction.

He would go on to work on the building of Great American Ball Park for the Cincinnati Reds as a project engineer from fall 1999 to spring 2003.

He then went to work on the construction of the then-named Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., for the Charlotte Bobcats as a project manager.

He was lured away from Hunt Construction to Louisville by developer Steve Poe to work for Poe Cos. LLC in January 2006.

In 2008, Hinshaw was let go.

It was the height of the Great Recession of 2008 and construction companies were hit particularly hard by the economic downturn.

But Hinshaw had hope despite losing his job.

The Yum Center project broke ground in 2006, but news of the big project had broken much earlier.

With his background in building sports facilities, Hinshaw wanted to be a part of the project when he first heard about the new arena coming to Louisville. It was an obvious opportunity.

To add to the desire to get on-board with the local project, Hinshaw had gotten married to a Louisville native while at working at Poe.

Hinshaw said he knew that he needed a job that would keep him here.

“Louisville had become my adopted hometown,” he said.

As luck would have it, Hinshaw was hired by Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson and joined as senior project manager for the Yum Center in 2008.

While all the major projects Hinshaw has worked on have been unique, he said there were some special factors involved with Yum Center.

He said the people he worked with on the project were very talented and that they stuck together in the years since the Yum Center opened in October 2010.

“We had a great team of people on the (Yum Center) project … and a lot of the same people are here at Calhoun,” Hinshaw said.

After the Yum Center work, Hinshaw was approached by Wilhelm Construction Co. Inc. with the prospect of opening and managing a business in Louisville.

Wilhelm had been the concrete contractor on several of the arena projects he had helped to manage. He joined and helped to start Calhoun Construction — which has an office off Poplar Level Road just south of the Watterson Expressway — in 2013.

Of his work on arenas, Hinshaw said, “There is always a tight timeline with an opening event scheduled. That always makes it a pressure situation from start to finish.”

A delay in work on a multimillion dollar project that’s received a great deal of media attention could be catastrophic.

“You set up a project, design a schedule that will allow you to hit the construction milestone and have intermittent milestones to help you know if you are going to make your end goal on time and on budget,” he said.

For fun, Hinshaw takes a hiking trip with his friends from college once a year, every year.

This is no day trip with a picnic. These excursions are often six- to eight-day adventures in the back country that cover anywhere from 40 to 60 miles of wilderness.

This year, Hinshaw and his friends are planning a hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

He said that approaching a quest of this magnitude takes the same kind of disciplined planning and goal setting that a multimillion dollar project does.

“You break it down into smaller pieces that you can get your head around and manage it,” Hinshaw said. “A lot of times (while hiking), you have to get from A to B because there is water at B, and no water in between.

“It’s always a huge sense of accomplishment when you’re done. That first beer (after the trip) is very satisfying.”

Even as a parent, Hinshaw takes a similar approach and recognizes that every day presents its own challenges, but that identifying and reaching key milestones helps life make sense and helps establish the pace of where things stand. John and his wife Susan have three children under the age of 10.

“It’s a part of life everyone should experience,” Hinshaw said of being a parent. “It’s your chance to create, to be part of the next generations and hopefully influence people to be good people and be contributing members of the next generation.”

He took some time to answer a few more of our questions:

What is your favorite place for lunch?

Frank’s Meat & Produce on Preston Highway

What advice would you give young or new business leaders?

Pick a field and try to learn every aspect of the field.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Stay positive

What is your go-to outdoor spot?

Parklands of Floyds Fork

Is there any one project that you would consider yourself most proud of?

The KFC Yum Center

Biggest pet peeve?

Hearing someone say, “That is not my job.”

What do you listen to while in the car?

Talk radio or the Lithium station on satellite radio.

How do you decompress at the end of the work day?

Walk in my house, and my three kids attack me with all of their energy.


John Hinshaw

President, Calhoun Construction Services Inc.

Age: 42

Hometown: Indianapolis

Resides: East Middletown

Career history: President, Calhoun Construction Services Inc., 2016-present and operations manager, 2013-16; senior project manager, M. A. Mortenson Co., 2008-13; Poe Cos. LLC, 2008-08; Hunt Construction Group, 1997-2006.

Education: Bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering with an emphasis in structures and a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering and management from Purdue University, graduated 1997

Family: Susan Hinshaw, wife of 10 years; an 8-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy.

Hobbies: Back-country hiking


Kentucky Guard cuts ribbon on two new facilities

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Kentucky National Guard Staff Report

Gov. Steve Beshear, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky Guardsmen and other guests cut the ribbon to officially open the Kentucky National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 14, 2015. The 126,000 square foot building replaces an aging facility built in 1971. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

FRANKFORT, Ky. — To begin the new fiscal year, the Kentucky National Guard opened two new facilities Oct. 14,  in its continued effort to support the Commonwealth and the nation.

To see all photos from this event, please click HERE.

Gov. Steve Beshear joined Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, adjutant general for Kentucky in cutting the ribbon on a new Army Aviation Support Facility in Frankfort, Ky. The new $26 million facility has nearly 126,000 square feet of combined space to house UH-60 Blackhawk and LUH-72 Lakota helicopters.

The new hangars and office space provide the latest in cost-savings technology and energy efficiency. It will replace the aging AASF built in 1971.

Gov. Steve Beshear, Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Adams III, Col. Brian Abney and Tom Nicolett ceremoniously accept new UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters in Frankfort, Ky., Oct. 14, 2015. The signified the Kentucky Guard’s receipt of the newest model of the Army’s primary helicopter. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“The courageous men and women who constitute the Kentucky National Guard embody the words ‘service’ and ‘sacrifice,’” said Governor Steve Beshear. “It has been with the utmost confidence that I have called upon them in Kentucky’s time of need during an impressive number of federally declared disasters. This new Army Aviation Support Facility we’re dedicating today will only increase the effectiveness of the Kentucky National Guard as its members perform an already wide array of capabilities. With the best equipment and the best people, there’s not much we in Kentucky won’t be able to handle.”

Tonini then cut the ribbon on the Bowman Readiness Center in Louisville later that afternoon.

The Butler Reserve Center was acquired by the Kentucky National Guard in the fall of 2013 as a result of the 2005 Defense Base and Realignment and Closure law. Kentucky invested $4 million to renovate the facility. This center will support operations of the Commonwealth’s National Guard units.

“Events like these show the relevance of what we do for our to serve our metro, our Commonwealth and our nation,” said Tonini of the Bowman Center. “Make no mistake about it, this is a Kentucky National Guard facility. Not only will we honor the military legacy of the Soldiers walking through this building, we will enhance it and continue the tradition with Kentucky Guardsmen.”

With the newest construction projects ongoing at the same time, Col. Steve King, director of facilities for the Kentucky Guard, said it was a demanding undertaking, but a beneficial move in the right direction for the Guard.

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Brig Gen. Charles Jones, Guardsmen and other guests cut the ribbon to open the Bowman Readiness Center in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 14, 2015. The new facility now houses Kentucky’s 75th Troop Command among other units. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Scott Raymond)

“The Kentucky National Guard and Department of Military Affairs routinely manage between 30 to 40 projects at any given time,” said King. “These projects range from minor renovations and maintenance of readiness centers or armories,  to major military construction. When managing large scale projects simultaneously, it’s important to note the teamwork involved between all agency personnel. Most of these projects have federal funding, but all have to be worked through the Finance Cabinet for design and execution. This relationship is key to the successful execution of all these projects.”

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Butler Reserve

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The Kentucky National Guard is comprised of nearly 8,400 Soldiers and Airmen in the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, which are components of the United States Army and the United States Air Force, respectively.

The National Guard is unique because it is the only military force in the world with a dual mission: federal and state.

Kentucky National Guard Soldiers train to assist the federal government in combat and peace-time missions. Since Sept. 11, 2001 the Kentucky National Guard has mobilized and deployed more than 16,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of the Global War on Terror.

The Kentucky National Guard remains ready to assist communities with disasters on the homefront. Whether it is a flood, tornado, snow or ice storm – or providing security for high-profile events such as the Kentucky Derby – the Kentucky National Guard is here for the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Butler Reserve is the home for the local units in the Kentucky Army National Guard.  This is where they show up on the weekends, work Monday through Friday, then train as soldiers.  This is how they keep our soldiers in a constant readiness status to support the commonwealth.

The Kentucky Army National Guard provides Unbridled Service to the citizens of Kentucky! They truly embody the state motto; United we stand, divided we fall.

Calhoun Construction Services served as the General Contractor for a complete interior and exterior renovation of the Kentucky National Guard building near Louisville’s historic Bowman Field. This project consisted of all new mechanical units, new facade, as well as upgrades to all interior finishes.

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Square Footage:  64,000 sq ft
Year Completed:  2015
Project Location:  Louisville, KY
Contract Type:  General Contractor

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Timeline Photos

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