Mentors and a hands-on education helped him become a top Miami GC
As a youngster in New York, George Abadie loved gazing up at the buildings as grandmother walked him to school. He was always interested in drawing and sketching and made towers with his wooden blocks. Later, he transitioned to Legos.
A Mustang model car is one of the first things he remembers building. At first, he meticulously followed the model car kit’s instructions, but after he’d made a few, he realized that there were different (and better) ways of building them.
Being surrounded by buildings and seeing logical patterns for how things fit together set the foundation for Abadie’s more than 20-year construction career. As president of Seacoast Construction, he is one of the top general contractors in Miami, a city he’s called home since he was 12 years old.
Learn more about Abadie and his foundation as a South Florida builder:
Where did you go to school?
I graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1988. I ran track, played football, and enjoyed woodshop class. I received an associate’s degree in arts and architecture from Miami Dade College and a bachelor’s in construction management from the FIU School of Engineering.
What was your first real-life construction experience?
At first, I was more interested in architecture. My concept of an architect was a person who masterminded the build—they designed it, they were involved in the construction of it, and they made sure it was built according to the concept. That still holds true today, but now the builder has a lot more input and has an advantage because they know cost.
As a student, I worked at an architecture firm, and one person took me under his wing. At that time, they were rehabilitating The Falls shopping mall. I went over there to draw and see how they built it.
I got more interested in the nuts and bolts. I leaned more toward the construction and engineering aspect of it, putting together all of that versus the actual concept drawings and architectural design. I was going to continue with architecture, but I was at a crossroads and decided to pursue construction management.
Did you have a specific teacher that inspired you?
At Miami-Dade College, Jorge Pupo was one of my first professors. He was very hands-on, always trying to show you why this occurs and talked about rhythm, order, different properties in architecture that put together a design of buildings. He also got into the historical perspective. He really opened my eyes.
He entered students into a contest and we were selected to design a house for a developer in Coconut Grove. We won the competition and got a trip to Europe.
He took us to Florence, Rome, Venice in Italy, and to Paris, France and London, England. We spent two months in the summer studying architecture, and he was our guide. It was a very memorable experience. I fell in love with buildings, architecture and how these buildings have withstood the test of time.
Did the house from the competition ever get built?
Yes. The theoretical part of it was done. They gave us a survey of the lot, which was a triangular lot at the corner of SW 22nd and Tigertail avenues in Coconut Grove. We envisioned a yacht cutting through the ocean. Where the triangular portion meets the street, which is the first thing you see, is a point. There was a fence around it that’s masonry, and it’s kind of wavy—goes up and down, like a streamliner actually cutting the waves in the water. The masonry wall was the fence that separated it from the public, and you saw the point and it looked kind of like a ship. We designed with that theme and that’s what won.
Have you had any other mentors?
When I was still in school, I worked at Coastal Construction and had a few positive influences there: Thomas Murphy, Sr., and Don Harrington. They showed me how the business works—what to do, what not to do, how to approach building technically, and how it fits into business. It was an integral lesson.
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