In 1937, an enterprising young engineer graduate named Robert B. Zinser graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, PA with a BS in civil engineering. Early in Robert’s career he worked for the Dravo Corporation where he got his first taste of heavy general engineering and waterfront construction working on projects such as the 10 mile tunnel for the Delaware Aqueduct Project in Fishkill, NY and the Mississippi River Bridge at Natchez, Mississippi. In 1945, after a four year stint as a 1st lieutenant for the Army Corps of Engineers, Robert moved his family to New Brighton, PA and continued working for the Dravo Corporation on several river projects. In 1950, he moved his family to Los Angeles, CA and in 1955 he joined forces with Johnson Western Constructors as an estimator and project manager. He worked with Johnson Western Constructors until 1966 upon the company’s dissolution. In 1966, Larry Sullivan and Robert B. Zinser formed Sullivan-Zinser Constructors.
In 1959, another young aspiring engineering graduated with a BS in civil engineering from Oregon State University. After a short call to duty with the National Guard, James R. Furby was hired by Chadwick & Buchanan from Long Beach, CA. He worked on his first waterfront project in Oregon on the Columbia River dredging below the Bonneville Dam. In 1962, Chadwick & Buchanan sent him to Santa Barbara, CA where he built the San Barbara Marina. In 1963 he moved to San Diego, CA to build Sea World San Diego. In 1964 he traveled to Port Hueneme, CA to construct Wharf 6. From 1966 until 1969 James R. Furby constructed the Yuma Welton Mohawk Canal in Yuma, AZ, Agua Hedionda Lagoon projects in Carlsbad, CA, and the 24th Street Marine Terminal in National City, CA.
In 1969, James R. Furby and Robert B. Zinser joined forces as Sullivan- Zinser Constructors and Furby Construction Co. Inc., a joint venture. From 1969 thru 1971, the joint venture performed many waterfront and general engineering construction projects in Southern California for customers such as the Long Beach Harbor Department, National Steel and Shipbuilding Co., San Diego Unified Port District, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Metropolitan Water District. James R. Furby and Robert B. Zinser decided to incorporate their businesses as Zinser-Furby, Inc in 1972. In 1972, Charles F. Cunningham joined the Zinser-Furby, Inc. team as chief estimator and engineer. Zinser-Furby, Inc. operated as a union shop until 1981 when it was decided to open a new merit shop company due to the changing labor atmosphere in San Diego. Marathon Construction Corporation became the main construction operating arm in 1983, and has completed almost 300 waterfront, earthwork, environmental, and heavy general engineering project from Southern California up to Washington State.
In 2001, James R. Furby resigned from Marathon Construction Corporation as President and passed the leadership of the company onto his son, Michael V. Furby. In 2004, Robert B. Zinser resigned from Marathon Construction and is currently retired. Michael V. Furby, President and Charles F. Cunningham, Vice President are the current family owned leadership for the company.
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ASCE President (Left) presents National Pile Driving Award to Robert Zinser (Center) and James Furby (Right) at the 1981 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) meeting.