By Linda Hutchinson
The growth of the construction company Frank Messer started in 1932 can be attributed to relationships, according to Jennifer Pierson, corporate communications manager of Messer Construction Co.’s Cincinnati Region.
Known as Frank Messer & Sons Construction Co. until 2002, the company philosophy is “performance” based; work hard on complex commercial construction, make a personal commitment to the client to provide craftsmanship, and always make safety the top priority.
Today, Messer Construction is 100-percent employee-owned and has regional offices in Columbus and Dayton, Knoxville, TN, Lexington and Louisville, KY, Indianapolis, IN, and will soon open a new regional office in Nashville,TN.
The home office is still based in Cincinnati. Overall, the company now employs approximately 750. All employee-owners share in the profits of the company.
In 2005, Messer put in place more than $500 million worth of construction. Project types included healthcare and educational facilities, laboratories, multi-unit housing, industrial and manufacturing complexes, religious, private/ commercial, and public and non-profit properties.
Known for its corporate citizenship, Messer strives for economic inclusion on every project.
It supports United Way, fine arts organizations, and other employee-recommended 501(c)(3) organizations.
In addition, the company established The Messer Foundation as a means to award major financial gifts of $25,000 each, to employee-recommended community organizations.
“Messer works to lead the construction industry in being a good corporate neighbor,” said Ms. Pierson.
Messer serves its clients as a construction manager, design/builder, program manager and/or general contractor.
With more than 220 project management personnel and 400 full-time craftspersons, Messer’s managers and clients have the support of in-house value-added departments for cost planning and estimating, risk management, accounting, information technology, building systems, equipment rental, professional development, and safety.
The company believes in and promotes the core value of self-performance, meaning they use their own highly skilled craft workers.
Self-performance values allow for greater quality control of fundamental success factors including cost, scheduling, quality, and safety. The underlying belief is that highly skilled and trained workers understand that their individual performance directly impacts the overall success of each project.
Company literature promotes a “Culture of Safety” as the number one goal. Exceeding OSHA’s standards is expected “not only on each project, but in the office environment as well,” said Pierson.
Since 2000, Messer has won no fewer than 16 coveted awards for safety achievement and innovation. Alison Muth, safety vice president, was recently selected as the new chairperson of the Safety Committee for the Associated General Contractors of Ohio.
In her ninth year at Messer, Muth possesses extensive experience in interpretation and administration of federal, state, and local regulatory requirements, with an emphasis on environmental and occupational safety and health policies, and procedures for both private and public sectors.
Muth’s affiliations include the American Society of Safety Engineers, Occupational Safety and Health Committee, Ohio Associated General Contractors, the Greater Cincinnati Safety Council, and the National Safety Council.
In addition to three Build America Awards, Messer has received five Build Ohio Awards, and 11 Build Kentucky Awards.
Some of its impressive buildings were erected during the early days: the main post office building in Nashville; the YMCA and public library in Toledo; the Carew Tower and Wright Aeronautical Corp. in Lockland; the Terrace Hilton Hotel and Stores Bldg. in Cincinnati; Foley’s Department Store in Houston, TX; Loveman, Joseph & Loeb Department Store and parking garage in Birmingham, AL; store buildings for Neiser Bros. Co. in Buffalo, NY, Springfield, MA and Cincinnati; the J.C. Penney Company in Indianapolis; Armament Laboratory in Wright Field/Dayton; and the Old Quaker Distillery Warehouses (now Schenley Distilleries) in Lawrenceburg, IN.
Those “relationships” of Frank Messer cast a wide net, providing opportunities to build in areas then considered to be a long distance from the home office. Projects were scattered rather than focused on specific communities.
Frank Messer was joined by Earl Wheeler in 1937. Wheeler brought with him the concepts of relationship selling, focusing on needs — not services, and establishing the company as a business community leader.
In 1962 Charles Messer joined the company. He espoused community support, capital investment, and diversification.
Around 1965 the company name was changed from Messer and Sons Construction Co. to Messer-Perin-Sundahl & Associates Inc.
Most of its business was now closer to home rather than being scattered across several states.
Gross revenues, which had been relatively stagnant over the course of three decades, reached the $2.7-million mark for the first time.
In 1980 Alfred C. Berndsen joined the company and brought with him new ideas that changed the company’s focus entirely.
He wanted to refocus on construction, break down traditions, share information, bring in new people with new ideas, and share profits. Revenues climbed to approximately $7 million.
The company built hi-rise apartment and office complexes, university buildings, a correction facility, power company plants, manufacturing plants, and parking garages.
In 1990 Messer became 100-percent employee-owned. Since then revenues have quadrupled.
Messer continues to offer internships to college students, and many of its management and engineers have served internships with the company prior to becoming full-time employees. CEG