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ASU engineering faculty collaborate on construction business book

front cover of construction book
March 19, 2014

Two faculty members in Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and a certified public accountant have co-authored a book about maneuvering through the complicated and risky construction industry.

“Managing the Profitable Construction Business: The Contractor’s Guide to Success and Survival Strategies,” recently published by John Wiley & Sons, shares “secrets” that allow contractors to take control of their contracting business and manage it through the natural highs and lows of the market.

The authors are Thomas C. Schleifer, assistant research professor in the Del E. Webb School of Construction, Kenneth T. Sullivan, an associate professor both in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, and John M. Murdough, principal of Pittman & Murdough, a CPA who specializes in construction business accounting.

Terry Lukow, former executive vice president of Construction for The Travelers Companies Inc., wrote a forward for the book.

“Construction professionals need this book,” Lukow wrote. “In good times, contractors do not have to be the best strategic managers, but this is a cyclical business, and in difficult times, they have to be strategic, decisive and unafraid to make tough decisions. Until this text, there has been limited published guidance available on effective strategies and processes on how to prosper in the highly risky construction business.”

The book addresses understanding the primary areas of construction business failure in the next decade, minimizing business risk with real-world examples and developing a positive and competent management attitude and strategy.

Schleifer, a sought-after private consultant, joined the construction industry at 16 and has worked as a foreman, field superintendent, project manager and vice president of a construction company he owned with his brother. He was also the founder and president of the largest international consulting firm serving the contract surety industry, and often is referred to as a construction business “turnaround” expert because of the number of companies he has rescued from financial distress.

In his current role as a research professor, he has been a driving force in developing research and models of the industry that are both revealing and realistic. He has a doctorate in construction management from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sullivan specializes in performance measurement, risk management, best value contracting, organizational transformation and accountability systems.

His research processes have generated more than $6 million in research funding and have been implemented in information technology, business services and construction projects valued at more than $3 billion. He has a master's in real estate and urban economics, and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering, both from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

John Murdough, CPA, MBA, is a nationally recognized instructor and workshop leader who combines in-depth construction industry experience with a gift for teaching. Murdough’s guest lectures on the business of construction at the Del E. Webb School of Construction and his many seminars are among the most powerful and popular classes available in the construction community.

Murdough received the American Subcontractor Association’s Construction Innovator of the Year award and the Plus One award from ASU, recognizing his innovative educational programs.

You can order "Managing the Profitable Construction Business" at

Written by Mayank Prasad

Media Contact:
Judy Nichols,
(480) 965-9248
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering