Virginia Tech® home

Preston Mason White

Preston Mason White with his Academy of Engineering Excellence award.

B.S., Building Construction, 1963
Induction year: 2024

As a young student, Preston Mason White ‘63 found himself drawn to the world of building and architectural engineering. Bill Favaro, the head of building construction at Virginia Tech, played a pivotal role in White’s journey. Favaro’s guidance helped White navigate the complexities of choosing a degree and further clarified his path toward building construction. Summers spent working in construction, particularly concrete construction, solidified White’s decision.

Post-graduation, White spent nearly a decade in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. He also worked with Vanguard Construction, where Eddie Friend’s mentorship honed his skills and fueled his ambition. 

After three years, White established his own company, Century Concrete, Inc. His Virginia Tech degree, with its comprehensive curriculum that included courses in accounting, business law, public speaking, and English, prepared him for running a successful business. White transformed a company of three people into a major enterprise with over 500 employees across three cities.

White’s pride lies not in his accomplishments, but in the growth of his team. His advice to his younger self encapsulates this sentiment: “Strive for improvement, nurture your team, and never forget those who supported you along the way.”

Current town:
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia

Professional roles:

  • CEO, Century Concrete, Inc., 1966-2022
  • 2nd Class Petty Officer, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, 1963-1971

Boards and committees:

  • Board Member, Virginia Tech College of Engineering Dean Advisory Board, 2022-Present
  • Board of Visitors, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 2022-Present
  • Board of Trustees, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 2019-Present
  • Board of Visitors Representative, Virginia Tech Boundless Impact Campaign Steering Committee, 2019-2022
  • Board of Visitors, Virginia Tech, 2018-2022
  • Smart Infrastructure Council, Virginia Tech, 2016-Present
  • Board of Directors, Virginia Business Higher Education Council, 2014-Present
  • Board of Visitors, Christopher Newport University, 2009-2017 (Rector, 2015-2017)
  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation-HR Leadership Council, 2008-Present
  • Virginia Tech Foundation Board, 2006-2012
  • Executive Council, Virginia Tech Myers Lawson School of Construction, 2002-Present
  • Virginia Business Higher Education Council, 2000-Present
  • Board Member, Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, 1999-2005
  • Civil Engineering Advisory Committee, Old Dominion University, 1999-2004
  • Executive Committee, Norfolk Academy, 1996-2008
  • City of Virginia Beach Arts and Humanities Commission, 1995-1998
  • Norfolk YMCA Board, 1986-1989

Volunteer roles:

  • Mentor, Myers-Lawson School of Construction Mentor Program
  • Coach, Little League football and basketball 
  • Assistant field hockey coach, Norfolk Academy

Why did you decide to come to Virginia Tech?
I was always interested in building and wanted to try architectural engineering. Virginia Tech was the only school in Virginia that offered it.

Who influenced you during your career and time at Virginia Tech? 
Bill Favaro, the head of building construction, helped me decide on my degree and was a continuous mentor for me as a student.

How did you decide what to major in at Virginia Tech?
Working summers in construction — mostly concrete construction — helped me realize my path for the future. Favro’s mentorship was also key in my decision.

What's one of your favorite memories from Virginia Tech? 
Ironically, when I flunked out my first year. I talked to Favro about my future, and he suggested I continue with my education by coming back to Virginia Tech and getting a degree in building construction, which is where I ended up.

What led you to your chosen profession? 
My first job after the Coast Guard was with Vanguard Construction, a civil and heavy construction firm in Norfolk. I worked with Eddie Friend in the office and the field. He was a great mentor and teacher. After three years I told him I was going out on my own. He was behind me, encouraging me to do it and not look back. I stayed in touch with him until he passed in early 2000.

How have you utilized your Virginia Tech degree in your career? 
The building construction degree requires a variety of courses that prepare one for running a business, like accounting, business law, public speaking, and English to name a few. It is a very well-rounded degree and prepares one to excel in many spaces.

What was the moment in your career that you felt like you made it? 
I was able to build a company from three people to well over 500 employees in three cities. What made me proud was all the people who were in the company and how they grew. They made the company; I just helped them along the way.

What advice would you share with your younger self just starting in your career?
It's not about the money. If you let that drive you, you probably won’t succeed. It’s about constantly striving for improvement and growing with those around you. What’s most important is remembering who helped you along the way.

Please note: Inductee spotlight is as of the year of their induction.