The Heritage Story Part II: 1984-1994
Written by Ben Maibach, III, Chairman and CEO
Over the last ten years, rapid change has taken place in the world. Barton Malow’s history since 1984 mirrors the expeditious events that have taken place around us.
In 1985, a dedication ceremony took place for the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, and a new door opened when Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor, Michigan, awarded Barton Malow the first of what became a five-phase program to build their corporate headquarters.
In an effort to consolidate Detroit-based operations, in 1986 Barton Malow established a new headquarters in the American Center Building in Southfield, Michigan. We also made great strides to expand our geographic base and our services. The same year, an office opened in Atlanta and The Argos Group was established. In March of 1986, Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children hired Barton Malow to build a hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, which proved to be another successful project. Our best marketing tool is still a job well done, which became evident in the years to come.
Three sizable projects started in 1987 — the nationally acclaimed Minneapolis Convention Center, a $200 million program at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, and the Wayne County Metropolitan Airport. We continue to work at Beaumont and the airport to this day.
Ben Maibach, Jr., Chairman of the Board, celebrated 50 years of service at Barton Malow in 1988. Ben started out as a laborer in 1938 and worked his way up through the company, eventually acquiring a majority ownership stake. The Company hosted an anniversary celebration in Detroit to honor his contributions to the firm and our industry.
After more than 20 years, a new corporate identity was established in 1988 and a new Barton Malow logo introduced. Corporate colors were changed from orange and black to blue.
Annually, the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD) selects seven Michigan projects for the state’s premiere design and construction awards. Award submittals are comprehensive and judging takes place out-of-state. Barton Malow won four of the seven awards in 1988 for the following projects: GMF Robotics, General Dynamics, Allen Park Pumping Station, and the Michigan Biotechnology Institute.
The Fall of 1988 stands out in my memory as one of the more difficult times I have experienced in my last 25 years at Barton Malow. The Company had a bad general contracting job in Pennsylvania, and operations at our Barton Malow Thatcher subsidiary in Atlanta were not going well. We were facing potentially costly lawsuits and had challenges to cleanup. Instead of blaming others for our problems, we stood accountable for our responsibilities and worked hard to bring project disputes to amicable conclusions. Due to the diligent efforts of committed employees, we were able to put our problems to bed and move forward. We discontinued the Barton Malow Thatcher operations and closed our Sarasota, Florida, office. The Pennsylvania job claim was settled out of court.
The east coast market offered opportunities and we opened a Mid-Atlantic office in 1989, just in time to pursue the Baltimore Orioles stadium, which we won in 1990. The new baseball field was hailed as a new standard for open-air stadiums. The year 1990 proved to be a banner year for sales. Other projects awarded to Barton Malow included the Troy High School, Sarasota Water Treatment Plant, Chrysler Jefferson North Assembly Plant, and an athletic complex for Carnegie Mellon University. In June 1990, Ford Motor Company gave us the contract for the Allen Park Test Lab, which has opened doors for us leading to additional Ford work.
An impressive team performance on the Baltimore Stadium and positive press were factors that helped Barton Malow win the Georgia Dome project in 1991. The Health Facilities Group continued their impressive track record for repeat work when McLaren Regional Medical Center and Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children honored us with contracts. We are servicing these clients to this day.
The Education Group began to diversify by opening a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office and offering facility audit and master planning services. The first major test of our capabilities came when the Milwaukee Public Schools selected Barton Malow to audit 154 schools, which was successfully completed.
The Education Group won $240 million of K-12 school work in 1991, and earned a leadership position in the Michigan education market.
National publicity regarding the Baltimore stadium and the Georgia Dome led to another baseball stadium win in 1992. Denver received one of the new expansion teams, the Colorado Rockies, and Barton Malow was selected to build the new stadium. Repeat work for long term healthcare clients was also a theme in 1992. Munson Medical Center, Shriners, and Marquette General Hospital all presented Barton Malow with additional work.
The Mid-Atlantic office won the National Aquarium project in Baltimore and the Milwaukee office secured the contract for the Milwaukee County Children’s Court Center in 1992. It is doubtful we would have won either project without local offices, since politicians prefer to award contracts to local firms.
It is rare to build four or five major projects for a single healthcare client. In 1993, Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children selected Barton Malow for three more projects in Salt Lake City, Houston, and Sacramento respectively. To date we have been awarded ten Shriners Hospitals in nine different states.
In 1994, we formally launched our TQM program. Barton Malow was named the 1994 Corporation of the Year by the Michigan Minority Business Development Council. In July of this year, Amerisure Company presented Barton Malow with a safety award for having 25% below the National AGC average for construction injuries.
In addition, we have made significant steps to further diversify our professional staff. In 1994, 46% of new hires were female and 24% minority.
It is rewarding to see investments we made in expanding our services pay off. Establishing Barton Malow Rigging Co. in 1984 and The Argos Group in 1986 were formidable tasks. Many people have worked hard to make our vision a reality. Both operations are profitable and busy.
It is reassuring to know that hard work and integrity still pays off. Over 65% of our work is from repeat clients who have learned we are dependable. We appreciate the trust our clients place in us and are committed to earning their continued support.