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Regional Manager for the Caribbean
Nakash & Fong Yee
Maples and Calder , and Sasha
BrittHay | About
Henry Propper, M.B.E.
Managing Director McAlpine Ltd. Tel: (345) 949-4666 Fax: (345) 949-7227
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.Mr Propper 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 said.It was 1994 when Queen Elizabeth came to Grand Cayman to personally award the MBE to Mr Propper for his 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.Although he 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 and his 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 professional qualifications.Mr Propper 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 early success."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 said.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.Mr Propper 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 convinced her 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.
Henry Propper, M.B.E.
Cayman Island Port Authority: Port Business: Cayman Island Port Authority is Created
"The job was one that had never been done before nor since in the entire Caribbean," says Mr. Henry Propper, Managing Director of McAlpine."We were especially challenged because during the two winter seasons we were engaged out there, we had more recorded northwesters than at any time before."Nevertheless, he and others who took part in the job are very proud."We all had this sense of being part of a pioneering effort," he says."The staff were all tremendously dedicated because everyone recognized the importance of the job to the Cayman Islands."Next -->