Angelo R. Perryman was a 32-year-old African American working in construction in Detroit when contractors building the Convention Center tapped him for a key job in the early 1990s.
As part of a mandate for minority business participation in building the center, Perryman was put in charge of repairing and building the Reading Terminal part of the center, on top of the Reading Terminal Market.
It was a career-building experience.
Now, his company, Perryman Building & Construction Services Inc., has been tapped for another important job: overseeing construction operations at the Wells Fargo Center before, during, and after the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
"We're accustomed to grabbing a hot potato and running with it," said Perryman, now 56, of Cherry Hill, and president of the Center City company his father founded in 1961 in Evergreen, Ala.
The "hot potato" refers to the timeline - building a huge, high-profile complex within the Wells Fargo arena by July. The structure has to accommodate not only the presidential candidates, but hordes of journalists and dignitaries as well.
It also refers to the lack of a precise plan for the job, even though the convention is less than five months away.
How big the job is isn't clear.
"The budget depends on the scope of work, and we can't give an estimate until we know more about the final work to be done," said Travis Dredd, the party's deputy chief executive for convention complex management.
Perryman's company, with about 17 employees, is managing the LOVE Park reconstruction, he said. The company also worked on the expansion of the Convention Center. It renovated the cheetah habitat at the Philadelphia Zoo, installed seating at Lincoln Financial Field, and refurbished Children's Hospital of Philadelphia offices in the Wanamaker Building.
Perryman's advocacy for minority businesses, especially in construction, earned him tickets to President Obama's inauguration in 2009.
Perryman's company "is known not only for quality construction work, but also for being a leader in the community," Leah D. Daughtry, chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said in a statement.
Perryman will report to Hargrove Inc., a Washington-based convention management company that has been named the event general contractor.
Hargrove will oversee every physical aspect of the convention, including, for example, the letting of bids for tents and temporary structures that will create a tent city in stadium parking lots.
Perryman will be responsible for choosing subcontractors - for such tasks as installing floors, building bleachers, and constructing a stage - from a list of Philadelphia companies who have signed up on the Democratic National Convention Committee's supplier list. Hargrove must approve Perryman's picks.
Perryman must encourage businesses that use union labor and those that are owned by minorities, females, veterans, disabled people, and those in the lesbian, gay, and transgender community to bid for jobs.
"Where possible, they'd like to energize the local business community first," Perryman said.