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

Construction underway on multimillion-dollar hotel

Work has started on a dual hotel near EP “Tom” Sawyer Park.

Local developer Steve Poe is building a combination Townplace Suites and Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel on 26.7 acres at 10241 Champions Park Drive. The project will cost an estimated $23 million.

The 82,000-square-foot dual-branded hotel will have 157 rooms total and traditional amenities such as an indoor pool, a dining area and a fitness center. It will open sometime next year.

The development will sit near the Springhurst Towne Center, another retail center and two other hotels.

This is only the latest hotel project from Poe, who developed the Aloft Hotel downtown and is working on another dual-branded hotel as well as a Homewood Suites downtown. —Caitlin Bowling

Work on $23M dual-brand hotel set to kick off in the East End

Mar 29, 2017, 11:32am EDT

A four-story, 157-room hotel planned on about 27 acres of vacant land in Louisville’s East End is set to begin construction.

Louisville-based Poe Cos. received building permits from Louisville Metro Government earlier this week to construct a dual-branded hotel that will carry the TownePlace Suites and the Fairfield Inn & Suites flags, as we reported in November.

The site, at 10241 Champion Farms Drive near SpringHurst Towne Center, is owned by Poe Cos. and is behind two other hotels, the Residence Inn Louisville Northeast and a Courtyard Louisville Northeast.

Valentin Staller, a project manager for Poe Cos., said in an e-mail that the hotels should be completed within a year and that the developments costs are about $23 million. The hotel will encompass more than 83,000 square feet and will be almost evenly split between the two brands. Both hotel flags are part of multinational hotel company Marriott International (NYSE: MAR).

TownePlace Suites stands out for having full kitchens in its guest rooms, while Fairfield Inn & Suites is billed as a business-friendly hotel that offers a full business center and flexible work spaces in its guest rooms and lobby.

According to a development plan filed late last year, the TownePlace Suites will have a mix of studio-sized rooms, double-queen rooms and one-bedroom suites. The Fairfield Inn & Suites will have king and double-queen rooms and several suites.

On-site amenities outlined in the documents include a lounge, dining and breakfast area, fitness room, market, laundry facilities, break room and indoor pool.

Poe Cos. is building the dual-branded hotel with Indiana-based REI Real Estate Services. Louisville-based Calhoun Construction Services Inc. is the general contractor.

As I have previously reported, this is just one of many projects on the plate of Poe Cos. The company is developing a 15-story, 300-room dual-branded downtown hotel — the traditional Westin brand and the funky Moxy — at First and Main streets that could open in time for the 2019 Kentucky Derby. That’s an $80 million project.

And Poe Cos. is a partner in a downtown Louisville Homewood Suites at 631 W. Market St. that should open in 2018.

The company, which is led by Steve Poe, also has indicated plans to build a 107-unit apartment complex with more than 123,000 square feet near the intersection of River Road and Frankfort Avenue. The site is an undeveloped parcel owned Louisville Waterfront Development Corp. That project is part of Poe’s Riverpark Place development.

Marty Finley covers economic development, commercial and residential real estate, government and sports business.

TownePlace Suites & Fairfield Inn & Suites Springhurst

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Since 1985, when Bruce White started the company with a single hotel, White Lodging has been driven by strategic growth and genuine care for guests, associates and owners. Because of these characteristics, White Lodging has become a trusted hospitality partner for the industry’s premium brands, including Marriott International. White Lodging was the first franchisee of Fairfield Inn & Suites and one of the earliest franchisees of Courtyard by Marriott hotels.

White Lodging has continued to make innovative and strategic business decisions in key markets and nourished existing partnerships, resulting in sustained, profitable growth. Original partnerships, such as the one with Marriott International, continue to thrive, and new partnerships have blossomed with Global Hyatt, Starwood and Hilton. To date, White Lodging is the largest manager of Residence Inns, Courtyard by Marriotts and Hilton Garden Inns in the United States. As the vision grows, White Lodging will continue to strengthen these partnerships as they develop and manage hotels and restaurants together.

Calhoun Construction is acting as the Construction Manager on the construction of the new 4-story, TownePlace Suites & Fairfield Inn in the Springhurst area of Louisville. The new dual brand hotel will consist of 157 rooms, select rooms with kitchens, pool, exercise room and outdoor lounge. The building structure consists of a structural steel podium on the first floor and structural stud on the remaining floors and concrete braced by 3 grouted masonry cores.

Construction is scheduled to start in April 2017 with completion in 2018.

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Square Footage: 80,000 sqft
Year Completed: 2018
Project Location:  Louisville, Kentucky
Contract Type:  Construction Manager

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Timeline Photos:

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Homewood Suites hotel rips up parking lot at Seventh and Market

Bill Weyland isn’t the only one in town digging around in preparation for a new hotel. Tim Mulloy and the Poe Companies have also begun pre-construction work for a new eight-story Homewood Suites hotel on the northeast corner of Seventh Street and Market Street. Thanks to a tipster for alerting us to the activity.

We spoke with Tim Mulloy about the activity on the corner and he told us that while construction hasn’t yet begun, crews from LG&E are on site installing utility vaults.


“I’m actually walking back from that site right now,” Mulloy told Broken Sidewalk yesterday. “They just started digging Tuesday.” He said the vault is an important step before general construction can begin.

Work on the vault is expected to take around eight to nine weeks. “Our construction timeline has always been to start in late October or early November,” Mulloy added. If all goes according to plan, Mulloy said the hotel could be open by February 2018.