ABC names Erhardt first ICON Award winner


Larry Erhardt, Sr. has been Bill Schoonveld’s welcomed guest at Owen-Ames-Kimball Co. Courtesy Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.

An icon in the local construction industry recently became the first recipient of the ICON Award given by the Associated Builders and Contractors of West Michigan at its 27th annual Excellence in Construction Awards Program.

ABC recognized Larry Erhardt, Sr. for having made a significant contribution to the industry. The 81-year-old founder of Erhardt Construction was selected by a live vote of those who attended the ceremony.

The organization said Erhardt has served others in the field as a mentor and has been a source of sound advice over the years. Although he is retired, ABC said he is still seen as a role model for others in the industry and offers some of the best examples of character, honor and integrity.

“I cannot think of someone who could better exemplify the spirit and intent of the ICON Award. I have known and worked with Larry for over 40 years. It has been a pleasure and an honor to have been in the same room with him. His commitment to ABC and volunteer leadership has been exemplary,” said John Doherty, ABC president and CEO, in an e-mail to the Business Journal.

This is the second major honor Erhardt has captured in just the past three years. In 2009, the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame inducted Erhardt and awarded him its Distinguished Contractor Award. Erhardt started the construction firm 50 years ago this year.

“Larry’s nomination and selection as ABC’s first ICON Award winner sets the bar very high for future nominees, and someone’s selection as an ICON will have special meaning to those recipients,” said Doherty.

Others who were nominated for ABC’s first ICON Award were Grand Rapids City Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss, Beene Garter partner Ann Plummer, URS architect Dan Van Dyke and Owen-Ames-Kimball President Bill Schoonveld. Interestingly, it was Schoonveld who nominated Erhardt for the ICON honor.

Another major ABC honor, the IDEATION Award, went to Rockford Construction. The award recognizes innovative techniques and methods that improve the quality of construction, and the judges said Rockford did just that by turning a portion of the former Peck Drug Store building at 40 Monroe Center into MoDiv.

MoDiv is a retail incubator that offers entrepreneurs flexible spaces and affordable leases and it has encouraged retail in downtown by creating a sound environment for entrepreneurial development.

Rockford Construction also won a building award for its renovation of the Stryker Corp. office building on Romence Road Parkway in Portage.

Wolverine Building Group, Owen-Ames-Kimball and The Christman Co. also won two awards.

Wolverine was named for its historical renovation of the Flat Iron Building on Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids and for its renovation and expansion of the Morton Township Library in Mecosta.

O-A-K won a building award for its construction of the Benton Harbor office of the InterCare Community Health Network, and a green building honor for the second phase of the Van Andel Institute on Bostwick Avenue in Grand Rapids.

The Christman Co. was honored twice for its renovation of the former Federal Building on Ionia Avenue NW. The first award was for the firm’s historical restoration of the building that houses Ferris State University and Kendall College of Art and Design. The firm also was given a green award for that restoration.

Another building winner was Pioneer Construction, which won for its renovation of the Ruth’s Chris Steak House restaurant in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. CD Barnes Associates was honored for its renovation and expansion of the Cummins Bridgeway Service Center in Grand Rapids.

Dan Vos Construction Co. won for building the new Request Foods Greenly Street Facility in Holland. And Frederick Construction picked up a green building award for its work on the Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University.

Other winners were Allied Electric, Allied Mechanical Services, The Bouma Corp., Dykhouse Construction Co., Kerkstra Precast, Parkway Electric and Communications, Pleune Service Co., Quality Air, Ritsema Associates, River City Mechanical, SecurAlarm Systems and Vos Glass.

Doherty told the Business Journal that award nominees and winners still believe in Michigan’s future and still are willing to invest in it at a critical time. He said whether the project honored was large or small, each one featured quality workmanship that the companies can be proud of.

“These winners are exciting examples of the variety and complexity of commercial construction projects today. The contractors involved have to be focused on energy efficiency, productivity, time schedules, safety, customer satisfaction and quality,” said Doherty.

“When they do an exceptional job at this ‘juggling act,’ they end up in our ‘Excellence in Construction’ program. When they are judged the ‘Best of the Best,’ they end up being recognized at our annual awards celebration,” he added.

The ABC awards honor the builders, their owners, their construction partners, the design team and on-site project supervision, and recently did so at a time when the economic circumstances haven’t been the best.

“The stagnation of the Great Recession has left its mark on West Michigan’s commercial construction industry,” said Doherty. “While each New Year brings its hope for a sustained recovery in our industry, by year-end we know we have generally just broke even! These have been five challenging years for many ABC members and their employees.”

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