BUILT FOR GOOD
100th ANNIVERSARY ISSUE
BUILT FOR GOOD FROM THE BEGINNING. WE WERE FORGED IN DETROIT IN 1916 by two men who understood that a company can make a difference when values take the lead. Trust. Integrity. Honesty. Character. Doing what is right. Words with great meaning that don’t seem to mean anything anymore. Well, they mean something to us. They form the foundation of a company built 100 years ago by George Walbridge and Albert Aldinger. We have a history of adventure. A culture of responding to crisis and managing risks others wouldn’t touch.
WE ARE WALBRIDGE
AND WHAT WE BUILD STANDS FOR SOMETHING.
IN THIS ISSUE
14 18 22
From Our Leadership
1970 – 1974
1916 – 1925
1981 – 1984
1926 – 1928
1986 – 1989
1936 – 1939
1998 – 1999
12 Seven Generations
2008 – 2009
1948 – 1964
26 2014 – 2016
TABLE OF CONTENTS 3
A VERY SPECIAL YEAR
he year 2016 was one of the best in my 45-year long career with Walbridge. I’m incredibly proud to have served as the company’s leader during its centennial year. We enjoyed special times together as we honored company founders George Walbridge and Albert Aldinger, and pointed out milestone moments along history’s pathway.
John Rakolta, Jr. Chairman and CEO Walbridge Detroit, Michigan John Rakolta, Jr. joined Walbridge shortly after graduating with a degree in Civil Engineering from Marquette University in 1970. However, his first job was at 12 years old, working at the company yard painting “yellow” safety barricades under the watchful eye of his grandfather, then the yard manager. He is now the seventh individual to lead Walbridge during its 100-year history.
One thing that stands out is the important role our employees have played in keeping the momentum going for a century. No single person or group can claim responsibility for our collective success. When prospective customers engage with us for the first time, our business development experts quickly establish the fact that we are an innovative leader in the construction industry. Our estimators work diligently to develop budgets, estimates and bids that cover the entire scope of the project and ensure we can deliver the quality and durability expected for the dollars committed by our clients.
Our project teams, with their boots on the ground or sometimes deep in the mud, utilize years of know-how to dig, erect, build and deliver the end product - the physical realization of the owner’s vision. So many more people make a difference: specialists in safety, purchasing, marketing, human resources, finance, technology, legal services and more. Walbridge’s success during the past 100 years is attributable to the day to day contributions of hundreds of people. They work for us in Detroit, Charlotte, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Dallas, LeClair, Iowa, Kalamazoo, and places in between. To each of them, I say “thank you.” You truly exemplify everything that makes Walbridge “Built for Good.”
Specialists in pre-construction get inside the details of a project’s design and engineering to set the right path for complex construction activities that follow.
1916 1926 1936 1946 1956 196 FROM OUR LEADERSHIP 4
eorge Walbridge and Albert Aldinger founded this construction company in Detroit in 1916. They wanted to build a lasting venture atop core values of honesty, integrity and trust. They envisioned a company that was built for good. Company leaders and employees who followed in their footsteps learned a lot from Walbridge and Aldinger. Things like, guide and lend expertise to clients as they build their futures. Be responsive and manage time and resources skillfully. Spend your clientâ€™s money as if it was your own. And be there for your customers, especially in critical times. Above all else, build facilities that inspire. Build spaces where people invent, learn and lift life up to new levels. And build dedicated employees whose contributions make a difference. The following pages provide details on some of the milestone moments and projects in our companyâ€™s 100-year history. We hope you enjoy the retrospective.
66 1976 1986 1996 2006 2016 5
March 11 George Walbridge, Albert Aldinger, William Carter and Frank Halls form Walbridge Aldinger Co. in Detroit.
George Walbridge Born: 1874
Albert Aldinger Born: 1877
Earned All-America honors as a halfback at Lafayette College. A SpanishAmerican War veteran, he later graduated with an engineering degree from Cornell University.
Family moved from Germany to Indiana when he was a boy. He graduated from Purdue University with an engineering degree. Met Walbridge at the Daniel Burnham architectural firm in Chicago.
FORGED IN DETROIT 6
“WE KNOW AND THE WORLD IS BEGINNING TO FIND OUT THAT THERE ARE NO BIGGER, MORE FAIR-MINDED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD THAN CONSTRUCTORS.”
Detroit Ice Machine
Fisher Body plant George Walbridge AGC President Walbridge is named the Associated General Contractors of America’s fourth national President. Maxwell Motor Co. plant
D.M. Ferry warehouse, Detroit
Michigan Stadium foundations
Bankers Trust Company
Olympia Stadium U.S. piers, Ambassador Bridge When it opens on Nov. 11, 1929, the bridge joins Detroit with Windsor, Ontario and is the longest suspension bridge in the world.
WHAT WE BUILD IN PEOPLE IS MORE POWERFUL THAN BUILDINGS 8
Hudson Motor Car Co. garage
Grand Trunk Western Railroad depot
Ford Rouge plant work Continuing its strong work in the automotive industry, Walbridge Aldinger works at the Ford Rouge plant. At the time, the plant was the largest integrated factory in the world. Chrysler plant, Walkerville, ONT
Hoover Dam report George Walbridge is one of three general contractors in the U.S. appointed to review construction progress on the gigantic Hoover Dam.
WWJ broadcasting studio
Arnold Home for the Aged
U-M Womenâ€™s dorm
BUILT FOR GOOD IS BUILT FOR LIFE 10
Albert Aldinger dies in Detroit on February 9th. At a board meeting four days later, directors call Aldinger, â€œA builder in the finest sense of the word.â€? He was 64.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt visits the Twin Cities (MN) Ordnance Plant during its construction. Walbridge Aldinger built this plant and a second one in Missouri. Combined, the two factories turned out nearly 25% of all small arms ammo produced in the U.S. during World War II.
John Rakolta enlists in the U.S. Army Air Corps. During a March 1945 bombing run over Germany, his Martin B-26 Marauder is hit by enemy fire. Rakolta struggles to free himself from the plane before it crashes. He survives, is captured and held by German troops until the end of the war.
Albert Henry Aldinger
George Barnes Walbridge
Roy Ernest Pickett
Born: June 14, 1877 Birthplace: Stuttgart, Germany College: Purdue University
Born: July 6, 1874 Birthplace: Stony Fork, PA College: Lafayette College, Cornell University
Born: June 10, 1886 Birthplace: Chicago, IL College: University of Illinois
Born: 1898 Birthplace: Canada College: None
President, 1943-55 Chairman, 1955-60 Director, 1929-55
President, 1955-64 Director, 1929-64
Co-founder of Walbridge Aldinger Co. March 11, 1916 President and Director, 1916 - 1942 Spouse: Lucy Children: Albert Jr., Cyrus Died: Feb. 9, 1942 Detroit, MI
Co-founder of Walbridge Aldinger Co. March 11, 1916 VP and GM, 1916 - 18, 1919-42 President, 1942-43 Chairman, 1942-55 Director, 1916-18, 1919-55
Spouse: Opha Children: Mildred, Marjorie Died: Dec. 1, 1969 Detroit, MI
Spouse: Helen, Jennie Children: Joseph, Jane, Clare, George Died: June 30, 1955 Tawas City, MI
SEVEN GENERATIONS OF LEADERSHIP 12
Spouse: Priscilla, Alice Children: Kenneth, Richard Died: March 28, 1964 Detroit, MI
Robert Charles Robillard
John Rakolta, Sr.
John Rakolta, Jr.
Born: July 19, 1922 Birthplace: Detroit, MI College: M ichigan State University
Born: June 19, 1923 Birthplace: Detroit, MI College: University of Detroit
Born: May 26, 1947 Birthplace: Detroit, MI College: Marquette University
President, 1970-79 Chairman, 1979-97 Chairman Emeritus, 1997-2003 Director, 1955-2003
President, 1979-93 CEO, 1993-current Chairman, 1997-current Director, 1975-current
Spouse: Mary Children: John Jr., Linda, Patricia, Maryann
Spouse: Terry Children: Eileen, Lauren, Paige, John III
President, 1964-70 Director, 1955-70 Spouse: Beatrice Children: Robert Jr., David Died: May 1, 1992 Oxford, MI
Died: Sept. 7, 2003 Bloomfield Hills, MI
McLouth Steel mill, Trenton, MI
Henkel Milling Company
Ford stamping plant, Woodhaven, MI
Fort Street Union Depot
OUR SUCCESS COMES FROM THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF OUR PEOPLE 14
Walbridge Aldinger Co. celebrates its 50th anniversary
Front row, 4th from left: CEO Robert Robillard and Secretary/Treasurer John Rakolta, Sr.
Ford St. Thomas, Ontario Walbridge Aldinger formed a joint venture with McDougall, a Canadian general contractor, to construct a new $65 million assembly plant for Ford Motor Company of Canada in St. Thomas, Ontario.
With Operating Engineers on strike, Teamsters use horses to grade in preparation for a concrete pour at Fordâ€™s Romeo, MI engine plant.
John Rakolta, Jr. graduates with a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Marquette University. In 1971, he joins Walbridge as Project Engineer at a Ford plant in Flat Rock, MI.
Work is completed on the new headquarters of the American Automobile Association of Michigan in Dearborn, MI.
WE KNOW OUR MISSION 16
Walbridge begins a long-lasting relationship with Ford Motor Company’s Powertrain Group with construction of a new engine plant in Dearborn, MI.
A major addition to a Chrysler plant in Kokomo, IN is finished. Walbridge Chairman and CEO John Rakolta, Sr. accepts new “K” cars from the automaker as final payment.
Walbridge is the maintenance contractor during construction of the Fermi Nuclear Generating Station II in Monroe, MI. More than 600 tradesmen and laborers worked on the project at one time.
John Rakolta, Jr. is named President of the company.
Mike Haller, front row, third from right
Walbridge secures a contract to build elevated guideways and related structures for the 3-mile People Mover in downtown Detroit. Williams & Richardson partners with Walbridge.
Work is completed on a new engine plant for Ford Motor Company in Chihuahua, Mexico. It is Walbridgeâ€™s first project in the country.
WE STAY FOCUSED ON THE FUNDAMENTALS 18
Walbridge acquires southeast Michigan construction giant Darin & Armstrong, adding talent and capabilities.
From 1984-85, Walbridge serves as general contractor for construction of a stamping plant in Fremont, CA for NUMMI, a unique JV between General Motors and Toyota.
Walbridge makes operational 1.4 million square feet of new stamping, body, paint and assembly facilities for Ford in Hermosillo, Mexico. Separate contracts were signed with Ford’s Plant Engineering Office and Vehicle Operations unit; our first combo project with the automaker.
J.M. Foster, Motor City Electric and Walbridge team to construct the world’s-largest electrogalvanized steel mill for Rouge Steel and U.S. Steel (operating as Double Eagle) in Dearborn, MI. With construction going on next door at Ford’s continuous caster project, more than 2,000 workers are employed at one time on the two sites.
A new powertrain facility is completed for Toyota in Georgetown, KY. It is Walbridge’s first solo project for the automaker. Construction of an assembly building (1993) and powertrain expansion (1996) follow.
Chrysler awards Walbridge a contract to construct a new technology center and, later, its world headquarters in Auburn Hills, MI. When work is completed, it becomes the longest-running engagement in Walbridge history.
Renovation is completed on Rivera Court, home of the “Detroit Industry” murals painted in 1931-32 by Mexican artist Diego Rivera. They are a popular attraction at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
John Rakolta, Jr. is installed as President of the Detroit chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America.
WE STICK TO PROVEN PROCESSES AND IMPLEMENT THEM IN DETAIL 20
Walbridge marks the 75th anniversary of its founding in Detroit.
One Detroit Center, a 43-story, 1.5 million-square-foot office tower, opens in downtown Detroit.
Walbridge completes a fourfacility press modernization program for Ford at Buffalo, NY; Chicago Heights, IL; Woodhaven, MI; and Walton Hills, OH. Walbridge becomes the first construction company awarded Fordâ€™s Q1 Quality Award.
John Rakolta, Sr. steps down as Chairman and CEO and is named ChairmanEmeritus. John Rakolta, Jr. is named Chairman and CEO and becomes the contractorâ€™s seventh chief executive.
Belding, a heavy equipment transportation and installation contractor based in Chicago, is acquired by Walbridge.
Ford prepares to build the Ikon at its new vehicle assembly plant in Chennai, India. It marks Walbridge’s first project in Asia.
A deadly explosion rocks the main powerhouse at Ford’s massive Rouge Complex in Dearborn, MI. Within hours, Mike Haller of Walbridge contacts the automaker to offer help. Employees from Ford, Walbridge and other organizations team to create a makeshift power system that gets a critical press line up and running within 36 hours. Walbridge spends $3 million in one week without a single purchase order from Ford. “WE DID IT ON A HANDSHAKE. THIS WAS WALBRIDGE’S FINEST HOUR” - Mike Haller
Walbridge becomes the first construction company in the United States to earn ISO 9001 certification.
In less than 23 hours, Walbridge sets a world record by pouring 21,000 cubic yards of concrete during construction of a tunnel beneath taxiways at Detroit Metro Airport.
WE PRACTICE FINANCIAL EXCELLENCE 22
Work is completed on the 15-story, 1.1 million-square-foot Compuware world headquarters in downtown Detroit.
Walbridge wraps up work on the multi-billion dollar redevelopment of Ford’s historic Rouge Complex, including installation of the world’slargest living roof.
Walbridge strengthens its commitment to Detroit by moving its headquarters to 777 Woodward Avenue in the heart of the city.
The 870,000-square-foot, village style headquarters campus of automotive industry supplier Visteon is completed in Van Buren Township, MI.
John Rakolta III joins Walbridge. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Building Construction Management from Purdue University and a master’s in Real Estate Finance and Investment from NYU. He is the third generation of Rakoltas to work for the company.
After extensive examination of its brand and corporate identity, “Aldinger” is removed from the company’s name. The new moniker, “Walbridge”, and updated logo with a modernized globe image are introduced.
Walbridge completes work on a bundled paint shop construction program with DURR Industries and ACCO for General Motors. New facilities open in Lordstown, Ohio; Oshawa, Ontario; and Delta Township, MI.
Detroit Metro Airport’s new North Terminal opens.
Construction is completed on North America’s largest railroad car manufacturing facility in Cherokee, AL.
OUR #1 CORE VALUE – PRACTICE SAFETY EVERY DAY 24
Pre-construction work begins with partner Amana Construction on parking decks and a personal rapid transit station at futuristic Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Walbridge spearheads a major renovation of academic, residential and gathering spaces at the University of Michiganâ€™s Law Quad. Work includes construction of 100,000-square-foot South Hall and total renovation of the 90-year-old Lawyers Club Residences.
BAE Systems opens its new space-age style office building and prototyping facility for military vehicles in Sterling Heights, MI.
Walbridge constructs one of the worldâ€™s most-advanced specialty metals hot rolling and processing mills for Allegheny Technologies in Brackenridge, PA.
In a mind-numbing 21 days, Walbridge orchestrates demolition of the assembly line for Fordâ€™s most-profitable vehicle, the F-150 pick-up. New equipment is installed so Ford can switch from a steel body to one made of military grade aluminum.
General Motors selects Walbridge to provide construction services for a multiyear transformation of its 710-acre Global Technical Center in Warren, MI.
Ford Motor Company picks Walbridge to manage key construction projects as part of a $1.2 billion redevelopment of its headquarters and R&D campus in Dearborn, MI.
John Rakolta III, left, becomes Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of Walbridge. His father, Chairman and CEO John Rakolta, Jr., marks 45 years of employment with the company.
WALBRIDGE HAS BUILT THE ESSENTIAL STRUCTURES OF OUR LIVES 26
Employees celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary at Walbridge’s annual meeting, held at The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, MI. The event is webcast to offices in the United States and Mexico.
Walbridge sponsors a special business event focused on innovation in Detroit. Here, Chairman and CEO John Rakolta, Jr. directs a question from the audience to University of Michigan Prof. Jeff DeGraff.
John Rakolta, Jr. (left) and Mike Haller, President of Walbridge Group, cut cake for employees on the date of the company’s 100th anniversary, March 11, 2016.