The Club was pleased to hear a Craft Talk with Rick Zimmer, led by Jeff Tromberg.
Rick was born and raised in NE New Jersey in a middleclass household. He attended Springfield/Millburn (NJ) Public Schools and spent the summers at the Jersey shore at a family beach cottage swimming, surfing, boating and fishing. His family got him involved early with community volunteer work. His Dad was a member of a local Lions Club. And, his dad, two brothers and Rick served on a local volunteer ambulance squad.
Rick is a Polio survivor: he had a mild case when he was 18 months old during summer epidemics. It affected he left foot and leg. Since he couldn’t run well, he became a good swimmer: he later spent six summers as an Ocean Lifeguard on the NJ beach. He met Lynda on the Beach during the summer before college graduation. Listen to this: he fished her and a friend out of the ocean when their air mattress raft got caught in a rip current — “Oh Rick, you saved me!”
Rick attended Bucknell (in Pennsylvania) for one and half years. He was not ready for prime-time college, so left school and landed a job as an electrician. He went through the Journeyman electrician apprenticeship program.
After gaining maturity, he attended Kansas State University where he majored in Mechanical/Nuclear Engineering. He graduated in 1968.
After college, Rick married Lynda and went to work as a project field engineer for Merck Pharmaceuticals, working on teams building manufacturing plants. He got placed on the travel team that worked in a number of sites around the southeast US.
His last project with Merck, was a two-year stint to build a new plant built from scratch, on the north shore of Puerto Rico in a sugar cane field, part of a US Govt jobs program for Puerto Rico. His team trained locals to do the work to build and staff the plant. In his first three months, he taught 40 young men to do electrical and welding trades (all in Spanish). He decided it was easier for him to learn Spanish than teach 40 Puerto Rico kids to speak English.
He got used to the tropics and did not want to return to New Jersey winters so he moved to Florida to join a Mechanical Engineering Design firm. He passed the Professional Engineer exam.
He received a fluke phone call from a headhunter and landed a job with Southeast Banking Corp, the largest bank in Florida as the in-house guy to administer inspections/payments for the bank’s construction loans. He learned about how bank loans were made and operated. Then, he passed the General Contractor exam to help his bank with foreclosed projects during the real estate shakeout of the late 70’s.
Rick got antsy when things were returning to “normal” and was hired as a Regional Construction Manager for a home building subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Corp. He moved from Coral Gables to Boca in 1979 to build subdivisions and apartments in Boca Del Mar and West Palm.
When the real estate slowed in 1982, he left building homes and started Zimmer Construction Consultants (ZCC) working for banks, monitoring construction loan programs (learned ins and outs at Southeast Bank). He started with two folding tables in his garage with Lynda typing on a leased Selectric Typewriter in the family room.
They have two adult daughters living in Florida with families and have six grandsons aged 2 to 14.
He has grown ZCC to include 16 team members handling about 150 projects per month from Jacksonville to Tampa to Islamorada.
He joined Rotary in 1988 and was sponsored by Glenn Partin, a bank client who was past President of three different Rotary clubs. He was attracted by the Rotary spirit of community volunteerism, the International Polio Plus program, and diversity of member professions.
Rick is a Past President (2005). His theme was to have members focus on participation/contribution vs. attending. He has been on various Club committees and ran the Scholarship Committee for a few years and awarded an OPAL Award in 2013. He still does fishing and goes scuba diving.
We are lucky to have Rick in our Club!