MAY 23, 2016

O-A-K Celebrates 125 years in Grand Rapids

(GRAND RAPIDS, MI) – Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. (O-A-K), local professional construction firm, announces their 125th anniversary in West Michigan. The firm, founded in Grand Rapids in 1891, currently employs a professional staff of 160, and operates full-service offices in Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, and Fort Myers. Click here for photos from the anniversary celebration on Thursday, May 19th.

HISTORYWhen O-A-K was founded in Grand Rapids in 1891, the city limits included less than 10 square miles, the majority of streets were unimproved dirt roadways, and the primary mode of transportation was the horse drawn carriage or wagon.

“The city has grown and changed so much since 1891, when we were founded. To be a part of that change, even in some small way has been an honor for current and past O-A-K employees. One thing that hasn’t changed is our commitment to downtown Grand Rapids and West Michigan. We are proud of our past contributions and look forward to the next 125 years,” said Frank Stanek, Corporate President and Chief Executive Officer. Stanek is the eighth CEO to hold this position throughout the firm’s history, and is notably the youngest to take on the role.

Among the company’s most recognizable projects in Grand Rapids are:

  • Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park
  • Grand Rapids Public Museum
  • Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
  • Grand Rapids Public Library (originally built by O-A-K in 1904, added onto in 1967, and historically restored in 2003)
  • McKay Tower (originally built by O-A-K in 1916 and renovated in 2013)
  • Numerous projects at John Ball Zoo

“West Michigan is very blessed to have such a strong philanthropic backbone as the driving force in transforming our community. This transformation has provided us opportunities to be involved with and engaged in projects that have become nationally recognized. This is something that really makes Grand Rapids special,” added Stanek.

TODAYWhile O-A-K focuses the majority of their business within the local geographic regions of West Michigan and Southwest Florida, they have also completed projects for locally-based organizations in 39 of the 50 United States. Their Florida operation began in 1982, and the Kalamazoo office was launched in 2013. The firm’s average annual volume over the past five years is $150 million, and the majority of their projects are overseen using the Construction Management delivery method, a more professional-based approach than traditional General Contracting. O-A-K was one of the pioneers of Construction Management delivery in West Michigan, tracing back over 100 years.

LONGEVITYIn addition to the company’s corporate longevity in West Michigan, the longevity of their individual team members also contributes to their continued success.

“Our values are at the center of our organization. This is a major factor in why our people stay with O-A-K for their entire careers.” Stanek said.

Factors that demonstrate this longevity include:

  • One third of current employees have been with the firm for over 20 years, even though O-A-K has hired 23 new employees since January 2015
  • The average O-A-K retiree has been with the company for well over 30 years
  • The company has been employee-owned since 1891, supporting an inherent checks and balances system when it comes to major corporate decisions
  • The average O-A-K field employee has been with the company for 23 years

“Periodically we run into someone whose mother or father, or grandpa, or great grandpa worked for O-A-K. We love digging through our historic archive of personnel cards to give to these people as keepsakes. Being part of the community for so many years means we’ve touched a lot of people along the way,” added Stanek.

CELEBRATIONOn Thursday, May 19th, the company welcomed over 400 guests at their yard location off of U.S. Highway 131 in downtown Grand Rapids. Attendees included current and past employees, clients, trade contractors, and general area business partners. The cuisine featured a casual barbeque menu, custom-made cookies from a local bakery, and a make-it-yourself macaroni and cheese bar. Décor was also kept casual, in keeping with the company’s low-key corporate mentality, showcasing historic signage and O-A-K field equipment.

“We want to sincerely thank everyone for the part they play in our continued success,” Stanek commented, “plus, it wouldn’t be a birthday without a party!”

COMMUNITY COMMITMENTAs the community component of the company’s anniversary celebration, O-A-K launched a year-long service initiative called Hard Hats, Strong Hearts in May. Overseen by a committee of nine employees, the purpose of the service initiative is to organize and implement volunteer events throughout the year, impacting local families and organizations in need. All local O-A-K employees are members of a team overseen by a committee member, and given the opportunity to help with projects that best suits their skill sets and passions. All events have been developed with employee input and will continue throughout the year.

Events scheduled for the first month of launching include:

  • May 18th - Grand Rapids Home for Veterans – Volunteering at Fishing Derby
  • May 18th - Habitat for Humanity in Kalamazoo – Volunteering skilled trades on a current building project
  • May 20th - Repairing and replacing the exterior siding of a home for a local family in need
  • May 26th - Repairing and improving exterior pergola and landscaping for a local family in need
  • June 26th – Volunteering at Gilda’s Club’s concession stand at the LPGA Classic

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Media Contact:Rachael MartemucciMarketing ManagerOwen-Ames-Kimball Co.(616) 456-1521rachaelm@oakmi.com

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