ENR 2015 Award of Excellence Video
Wounded in Iraq, the young entrepreneur now executes a new mission as construction firm CEO and veterans' advocate.
While hanging out with friends in his California living room one day in 2006, HT Tran had an epiphany that changed the direction of his life. It led him to become a soldier in Iraq who later was severely wounded, co-found and run a fast-growing contractor, become a dedicated advocate of hiring veterans in construction and emerge as a standard-bearer for a new generation of industry leaders.
Hien Manh Tran, known as HT, was at the time the U.S.-born child of South Vietnamese immigrants who had a San Jose State University business degree, a promotion pending as a Macy’s loss-prevention manager, his own apartment and, at age 26, “a decent life,” he says. But as he and his buddies discussed whether, if any of them died that day, they had helped someone or effected change, when the question “came to me, I had nothing to say, and that bothered me,” Tran points out. The desire to change direction and leave something hard-earned to a country that offered Tran’s family refuge in the late 1970s steered him to join the U.S. Army infantry, expecting to build a military career.