Florida concrete industry pioneer James Judge Sr. dies at 78

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Florida Construction News staff writer

Longtime Florida contractor and concrete pump inventor James Patrick Judge Sr. died Dec. 29 at Melech Hospice House in Temple Terrace. He was 78. A funeral service is being held today at 10:30 a.m. at Espiritu Santo Catholic Church in Safety Harbor.

Judge founded Judge Construction in the 1960s and quickly became one of the largest concrete pumping companies in the Southeastern U.S. and pumped the concrete needed for the construction of many iconic Florida landmarks including Walt Disney World, Epcot, Crystal River Nuclear Powerplant, Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant, the Skyway Bridge, Tampa Stadium, Raymond James Stadium, Busch Gardens, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Tampa International Airport, and many of the high-rises, which make up the skylines of Tampa, Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville to this day.

One of Judge’s most cherished construction projects was when his company was contracted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to help with developing and executing a plan to save the famed 16th century Spanish Fort, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, known to San Juan locals as El Morro. Judge Construction pumped concrete in strategic locations around the base of the fort to help prevent further tidal erosion.

After Judge Construction was sold in the 1980s, James and his brother Tom started a new PUMPS Inc., to manufacture smaller, towable concrete pumps. The company’s signature achievement was the development of the P-88 concrete pump. James and Tom sold the company in 1991 to Schwing America.

In 2000, Schwing announced at the World of Concrete convention in Orlando, that the P-88 concrete pump had become the largest-selling small-line concrete pump in the world. That same year, Judge was presented the Pioneer Award by the American Concrete Pumping Association for his lifetime contributions to the industry.

Following the sale of PUMPS Inc., Judge and his brothers formed a smaller concrete pumping company called Concrete Pump Dispatch Inc., which was based in Safety Harbor, Florida. CPDI specialized in providing concrete pumping services locally throughout the Tampa Bay area and also for larger commercial projects including military bases across the Southeastern U.S.

“Dad loved the challenges and adventures of starting businesses and traveling the world, and he loved living in the Tampa Bay area, particularly Dunedin, and watching the city’s transformation over the past thirty years,” said James P. Judge Jr. “If you knew him, you also know he was proud of the concrete work his company did with the University of Florida. He was a Gator Booster and season ticket holder for decades, and he remained a loyal Florida Gator football fan until the day he passed.”

Judge is survived by his three children, Anastasia Judge-Arauz, who is a licensed family therapist in Jacksonville, N.C., Alexandria Judge-Lenkeit, who is a school administrator for Wake County Public Schools in Raleigh, N.C., and James P. Judge Jr., who is a Tampa Bay area small business owner and was the Republican nominee for Florida’s 14th Congressional District in 2022.

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