As JP Cullen CEO David Cullen received a Forward Janesville Lifetime Achievement award Thursday at the chamber of commerce’s annual awards banquet, he offered a few tidbits of what he said could pass as “sage” advice.

One bit: Put in the time.

“The only way to get 10 years of experience is to live 10 years. There are no shortcuts, and believe me, you’ll have plenty of gray hair before you want it,” Cullen said Thursday to a record crowd of 450 Janesville-area business operators at the banquet.

Cullen has done that in his career, times four.

Cullen started work for JP Cullen, a family-owned and -operated Janesville construction management firm, in the late 1970s. Over that past four decades, he’s served every role in the company—from a construction laborer to CEO, said BMO Harris Bank Vice President Terri Miland in an introduction.

JP Cullen, which has operated out of Janesville since 1892 and has offices in Madison and Milwaukee, is one of the largest construction management firms in the state. The company employs 600 people. It has managed major construction projects in recent years, including renovations at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison and construction of the sprawling EPIC Systems campus in Verona.

Cullen earned the Forward Janesville award because of his longstanding commitment to his family’s company but also because of philanthropic activity. That includes the JP Cullen Foundation, which has given over $4.5 million in gifts, grants, scholarships and mentoring programs to the local community and over $400,000 annually to nonprofit charities, Miland said.

Cullen also has served on the Janesville City Council, was a Forward Janesville board chairman and served on boards including Agrace Hospice Care, Rock County 5.0 and United Way of Northern Rock County.

The luncheon was Forward Janesville’s 17th annual banquet. Also honored at the luncheon was large Business of the Year award recipient Chambers and Owen, a longtime, Janesville-based convenience store distribution company.

Chambers and Owen is now the 12th-largest distributor in the U.S.

Others honored at the banquet included:

  • Diversity Award: GIFTs Men’s Shelter
  • Ambassador of the Year: Denise Webb, Hagen CPA
  • Volunteer of the Year: Tammy McCaslin Krebs, Blackhawk Community Credit Union
  • Educator of the Year: Mark Dwyer, Rotary Botanical Gardens
  • Entrepreneur of the Year: N1 Critical Technologies
  • Community Improvement Award: The Janesville Police Department.
  • Small Business of the Year: E&D Waterworks.

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