28 Mar How CNY’s Dennis Prude Escaped Poverty and Rose to the Top of the Construction World
Commercial Observer January 29, 2019
CNY Group executive Dennis Prude has a life story that sounds like it was ripped from the pages of a Charles Dickens novel.
He was abandoned by his mother at age 5 and spent his childhood bouncing around homes in the foster care system in Brooklyn, from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Brownsville, and later to Jamaica in Queens. By his 10th birthday, he was shining shoes at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and 153rd Street, in front of Queens Family Court. After graduating high school in 1968 with a scholarship to play football at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, he discovered that his pregnant wife couldn’t live with him on campus. So the 18-year-old dropped out of college and began searching for a clerical job.
Prude landed an entry-level position at what was then one of the city’s largest construction companies, Morse Diesel, as a “timekeeper.” At 6 a.m. daily, he’d arrive at a job site, ask for each foreman who he had working for him, and keep attendance records for the construction supervisor. When he was six months into the job, his first construction “super,” the late Bob Rick, fired a few assistant supervisors and decided to promote Prude. That’s how his 50-year-long career in the rough-and-tumble construction industry began.