Senior Vice President, Lyles Diversified Inc.
MSIA ’71, BSCE ’64
For guidance in leading the Lyles Family Enterprise to tremendous prosperity, providing the leadership to see the Lyles Construction Group become a top 50 environmental firm and the second-largest environmental contractor in California
Having a grandfather who was a Purdue mechanical engineering professor and parents who both were Purdue graduates, it seemed natural that Gerald Lyles would become a Boilermaker.
What he may never have anticipated is that the Purdue engineering school to grant him his degree would one day bear the family surname.
Lyles says Purdue prepared him well for his career in pipeline, utility, concrete and mechanical construction with the firm that was started in 1945 by his parents, William Jr. and Elizabeth Lyles.
He points particularly to one overarching lesson as most valuable: “Time management, especially since I was in a curriculum requiring a minimum of 153 semester units to graduate in eight semesters,” he says. “I graduated with 163 units in eight semesters without summer sessions — while enjoying all sporting events, concerts, convocations, student activities and fraternity life.
“I also enjoyed the cultural differences on campus, since I came from a small town with virtually no diversity.”
After receiving his BS degree in civil engineering, Lyles was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps and served a two-year assignment in public works in the Philippines. He then became a project engineer for Kaweah Construction Company, one of two family construction companies. In 1970, he returned to Purdue for additional education.
“Both at Purdue and as late as six years thereafter, I came to realize engineering would be a great foundation for my career. To truly compete with many others, however, I needed to move beyond being a specialist or pure engineer,” he says. “I needed to employ other aptitudes and become more of a generalist. This required that I add further education in the Krannert program, leading to what they now call an MBA. The blend of these two avenues of education has provided me with a great career.”
Lyles rejoined the Lyles family companies in 1973 as they began to expand beyond construction. He headed several areas, including what is now 4,000 acres of agricultural orchards and 580 acres of industrial parks, shopping centers and housing.
He oversaw manufacturing of irrigation products and served as corporate liaison for the family’s interests in rental property and with Pelco, a manufacturer of closed-circuit surveillance equipment.
Lyles still credits Purdue for much of his success, which helps explain why in 2014, the Lyles’ family foundation donated a gift that renamed the civil engineering school. It became the Lyles School of Civil Engineering.
“Those with a Purdue engineering education are widely respected throughout the nation and the world,” he says. “This has helped to give me a foundation to move forward with other professionals knowing I could hold my own in discussions and decision-making.”
Worrying is a useless process unless it stimulates you to take a positive action.”
|2007-present||President, Lyles United, LLC|
|1999-2010||President, Pelco Sales Inc|
|1973-present||Senior Vice President, Lyles Diversified Inc.|
|1971-1973||Industrial Engineer and Capital Project Financial Analyst, Building Products Division, Johns Manville Corporation|
|1966-1970||Construction Project Manager, Kaweah Construction Company|
|1964-1966||Civil Engineer Corp Officer, United States Navy|
|1964||BS Civil Engineering, Purdue University|
|1971||MS Industrial Administration, Purdue University|