As a student at FGCU, Andrew French played on the university’s inaugural basketball team. “There’s some debate between me and a couple of other guys as to who was the first to be signed by the university, but I know I’m among the first three,” he says proudly.
French is still an avid supporter of the program, but these days you’re as likely to find him in a construction zone as on a basketball court. The Sarasota native is a senior project manager for Blue Cord Design & Construction, an Orlando-based construction firm that’s among the leading Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB) contractors in the country. A management major at FGCU, French has been with the company since 2013 and has managed some $30 million in government healthcare projects from St. Petersburg to Jacksonville.
“I worked for an SDVOB construction company prior to joining Blue Cord and became very familiar with the ins and outs of building at federal facilities,” he says. “Blue Cord has strong leadership, so when the project manager position opened up, I jumped at it. It was a perfect fit.”
Most of the firm’s work is in federal facilities – Army bases, Navy bases, veterans’ hospitals, and the like – says French, but they also work in the private sector, particularly for universities. “The best part of my job is the satisfaction of taking a concept or set of construction documents and turning them into a final, finished, tangible product.”
When French isn’t poring over blueprints and change orders, he’s running the boards for the St. Pete Tide, a semi-pro team in the American Basketball Association. “I never thought I would be playing organized basketball at this level at my age,” he admits. “Most of the players in the league are young guys, 22 to 28 years old, who are trying to gain access to overseas teams with the National Basketball Development League, so the level of competition is high. It keeps me in shape and allows me to do something I love in my spare time.”
Ludmilla Wells, former FGCU associate professor of marketing, isn’t surprised that French has found a way to continue pursuing his joint passions. “Andrew played for the university’s basketball team and had a tremendous passion for the sport,” she said. “It was a joy to watch him – he always put on a good show – and he brought that same spirit and energy into the marketing and advertising classes he took with me. It’s gratifying to see what a successful businessman he’s become.”
“Unlike other schools, what the faculty teaches isn’t cookie cutter – it’s very actionable knowledge.“
French is equally proud of the success he’s realized and credits FGCU with preparing him to compete in the workplace. “Unlike other schools, what the faculty teaches isn’t cookie cutter – it’s very actionable knowledge. I learned how to think outside the box and gained a lot of real-world experience that I continue to use daily.”