Henry Propper, Managing Director for McAlpine
...Henry Propper and his right hand man Ian Pairadeau.
...Mr. Propper and Paul Blenkinsop look over the day's figures.
gets ready to break ground onsiteHenry Propper, Andrew Sinclaire, John Knight and Les
...Never mind Elizabeth Taylor's famous violet eyes, Henry Propper, MBE will never forget Queen Elizabeth's blue eyes during their brief conversation when he was awarded the honour.
They were riveting he
It was 1994 when Queen Elizabeth came to Grand Cayman to personally award the MBE to Mr Propper
contribution to the construction industry.He
recalled the Queen had a broken arm so it was her
military equerry that actually pinned it on him.It was a moment Mr Propper
cherishes, especially since he
never got over the personal tragedies he
experienced growing up or being fatherless and the continuous financial struggles of his
family. He has been the Managing Director for McAlpine (Cayman) Ltd and Regional Manager for the Caribbean of McAlpine Ltd for the last 30 years.With 45 years in the construction industry, Mr Propper has contributed to drafting the country's building code, and been a founding member of the National Trust as well as established scholarships for young Caymanians, unheard of in the construction industry.
credits hard work and luck for his
professional achievements, it was the death of his
father and then his
stepfather that would fuel his
drive for an education and a better life.
Originally from Germany, Mr Propper
's father was a language professor, who had to fight for his
country during World War II and was sent to the Russian front where he
died fighting, leaving Mr Propper and his
twin brother fatherless.His
mother did remarry however and eventually when he
was 13 the family moved to Toronto, Canada.
As a child, Mr Propper
didn't have difficulty switching to English from German as his
primary language, because his
parents always had friends who spoke English.Besides, it is well established that children pick up languages easier than adults.
"I started speaking English when I was six," said Mr Propper
."My parents always had English speaking friends so it was easy to make the transition."
Then tragedy struck when Mr Propper's stepfather drowned.Along with his
youngest sister, Mr Propper
brother were again fatherless he
was only 15 years of age.Mr Propper
was determined however to get an education even though it would be tough considering the family didn't have much money.
"I remember telling my mother and grandmother that since my father had been a language professor, it motivated me to get auniversity education.It was a tribute to his
memory even though I never knew him."Mr Propper explained that for two years he worked as a labourer and saved his money to go to university.
It was a combination of his
interest in science and mathematics that he
decided to pursue civil engineering.
"I wanted a job that wasn't going to make me deskbound.Civil engineers, especially during the early part of their careers workoutside quite a bit."
But after his
sophomore year in university, Mr Propper
had to stop his
education and go back to work for another year and half to save money to go back to school.However this time, he worked as an assistant engineer for a construction company.He
graduated as a civil engineer in 1964. and worked for two years in Ottawa, before applying for his
looked for a job but he
was turned down by all the major companies and several smaller companies.The construction business in Jamaica seemed to be crowded with well qualified professionals.Eventually, however he
got a lead through an acquaintance with a small local company.Nakash & Fong Yee hired Mr Propper as a project manager.
A year later, he
moved to Douglas Pierce Engineers simply because the offer was too good to pass up.Then he was promoted to General Manager at the ‘ripe old age of 28'.Mr Propper
explained it was being in the right place at the right time that contributed to his
"I was fairly aggressive in my work habits.I worked 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week.I can't say I got promoted because I was real smart, but I worked very hard and there is always a little luck in any promotion," he
...The Jamaican offices were sold off and Mr Propper was promoted to Regional Manager for the Caribbean.
"In 1972, Grand Cayman was just on the verge of its first building boom.It of course continues to this day.We already had two contracts to build the Legislative Assembly building and the Court House so it made sense to move the main office here."Over the next three decades Mr Propper managed construction projects in the Cayman Islands as well as numerous Caribbean countries including Barbados, Bermuda,Bahamas and Antigua.
Early projects in Grand Cayman included the Kirkconnell Home Centre
, the Glass House, Port Authority and Rum Point.In later years, McAlpine
constructed phase four of Elizabethan Square, Maples and Calder, Citrus Grove and George Town Hospital
noted that all of its buildings faired well from Hurricane Ivan.
As the years have passed since his
university education, Mr Propper
explained the knowledge he
has gained from work has surpassed what he
had learned in university.
"You accumulate knowledge while you are at work and it akes you productive in whatever you do.
"My degree is a Bachelor of Applied Science.The tools you are provided with at university enables one to problem solve and that is what engineers do."Although Mr Propper was born in Germany and grew up in Canada, he became a naturalized British subject in 1983.He has two grown children, Anna Marie, who is now a lawyer at Maples and Calder, and Sasha, a private banker at Coutts.
And then there is his
wife.After a long distance relationship for 10 years, Mr Propper
recently convinced his
second wife, Christiane, a German architect living in Antigua to marry him last October.And then he
to move to Grand Cayman in April.
Recently, Mr Propper
took up tennis after a 20-year hiatus.He had been a member of the tennis club for all those years, but there was simply not enough time to play so he is taking up lessons again.He
also claims to play a little golf and travels to Scotland or Ireland, because that is where the game originated.