Brian Franco has lived around the world as the youngest of four children in a Navy family, finding his way to Jacksonville the first time as a kicker from 1983-85 with the Jacksonville Bulls, a United State Football League team.
Having been a kicker at Penn State, Franco worked his way around the pros and ended his career in 1987 after a training camp with the Dallas Cowboys.
"After that, I decided to work for a living," he said.
He returned full-time to Jacksonville in 1988 with The Haskell Co., starting as an assistant project manager, forming and pouring foundations at The Lodge & Club at Ponte Vedra.
His college major was vocational and industrial education. While at Haskell, he earned his construction management degree attending classes at night at the University of North Florida.
After three years at Haskell, he joined Auld & White Constructors LLC for 19 years, first as director and then as vice president of business development.
When the opportunity came in 2010 to help build a non-federal commercial office in Jacksonville for Sauer Inc., a nationwide construction firm, he took it.
"I always wanted to build something of my own," Franco said, figuring, "If I'm going to do it, now's the time."
Since then, he and operations Vice President Eugene "Sonny" Moody have grown the office to 26 people.
"We've had a chance to build this team," he said.
Clients include UF Health, St. Vincent's HealthCare, Baptist Health System, the Diocese of St. Augustine, Borland-Groover Clinic, First Coast Oncology, Vistakon, Navy Federal Credit Union, Cancer Specialists of North Florida and others.
"We're slowly spreading the word," he said of marketing Sauer's commercial construction services in Northeast Florida.
"We have no limits. We have no financial limitations. We have no geographic limitations. That's kind of a neat place to be in," he said.
"But we had to crawl before we could walk to try to broaden the base of repeat clients."
Sauer Holdings Inc. is based in Pittsburgh, Pa., and was founded in 1876 as a plumbing company. It grew into a nationwide contracting firm offering mechanical and plumbing services and structural steel fabrication and installation.
Sauer Inc., based in Jacksonville, is the commercial general contracting subsidiary.
It has regional offices in Orlando, Atlanta, Denver, Newport News, Va., and Landover, Md.
Franco, 53, has been married for 24 years to Jackie and they have two sons, Brad, 16, and Jake, 15.
Franco has coached soccer and football kickers, and he bikes and works out.
He also plays golf casually,
but his serious attention to the sport is as a leader of 2,000 volunteers for The Players Championship, the annual PGA Tour event at TPC Sawgrass Country Club.
Franco is first vice chairman in 2014, meaning he's in line to receive his "red coat" as chairman for 2015, "God and Red Coat willing," he said. The past chairs of the tournament are called "Red Coats."
"Red Coats" leadership is a six-year process. Franco remembers the first year he became involved in the tournament, thanks to printer Mike Hartley, was the week son Jake was born.
He considers his opportunity at Sauer as "liberating for me."
"It's allowed me to re-energize my career," he said.