A. E. Burgess was born in Collinsville, Alabama in Dekalb county on October 4th, 1919.
He served in the U.S. Navy as a “Seabee” during World War 11 where he built and maintained airstrips and roads. Mr. Burgess always attributed a significant portion of his success to this experience.
Mr. Burgess formed his own company, A. E. Burgess Company, Inc., in January, 1948. The firm was incorporated with Mr. Burgess as president; Charles R. Burgess, vice president; C. M. Steadman, secretary; and Mrs. A. E. Burgess, treasurer. The company was based in Birmingham, Alabama.
The A. E. Burgess Co., Inc., broke ground on December 1st, 1957 on the first project of Alabama’s eventual 920 mile system of interstate highways. This history making event inaugurated the most extensive road program ever embarked upon in Alabama at that time and was the first work to be done under the provisions of the Highway Act of 1956.
The site of the project was on some of the roughest terrain in Alabama requiring extensive drilling and blasting. Mr. Burgess consulted with Mr. Davis Robbins to build what was to become the first prototype of the eventual Robbins drill.
Additionally, in cooperation with the Monsanto Chemical Company, the A. E. Burgess Company was the first company to utilize the combination of fuel oil and ammonia nitrate for the production blasting of rock.
Before Mr. Burgess would conclude his career, his companies would complete in excess of 78 state and federal projects in the states of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
By 1968, A. E. Burgess Company, Inc. had expanded the scope of their operations to include coal mining and the company’s name was changed to Burgess Mining and Construction Corporation.
In addition to Mr. Burgess’s successful highway projects and tenure as president of the Alabama Road Builders Association, he also served on the boards of numerous businesses in the Birmingham area and founded the Alabama Surface Mining Reclamation Council.
A. E. “Pee Wee” Burgess died June 2nd, 1998.