The construction company Ada celebrates its 60th anniversary

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Erhardt Construction, the general contractor, construction management company responsible for some of West Michigan’s most iconic buildings, turns 60 today.

Larry Erhardt began in the basement of his home on Woodcliffe Ave. in Grand Rapids and eventually relocated the company from his home on 48th St. for a few years. In the early 1980’s, Erhardt built an office at Ada, 6060 Fulton St E to serve as his corporate headquarters.

In 2006 Larry Erhardt retired and his son Joe Erhardt took over the reins. Under the direction of Joe Erhardt, the company continued with high-profile downtown projects such as the Van Andel Arena, Van Andel Institute Phase 1 and the DeVos Place Convention Center.

With 88 employees and a portfolio that includes the Amway Grand Plaza, Calder Plaza building, Butterworth Hospital and countless others, the prolific design/build company shows no signs of slowing down.

“Joe was really about developing people and building a strong team. I have to thank him for investing in technology, developing people and providing opportunity,” said Ben Wickstrom, who joined Erhardt as an associate project manager and was appointed president in 2011.

Wickstrom was raised in Menominee, Wisconsin and received his civil engineering degree from Michigan Tech.

“The reason I came here from ‘Tech’ in the first place is because we had just finished Van Andel Arena. We were big enough to build any project in West Michigan. We had great project skills but a small company where I could make a difference and be valued,” Wickstrom said.

He attributes the company’s success to his commitment to putting the customer first, which is rewarded by repeat clients and his diverse skillset in different types of projects.

“There’s nothing we can’t build,” said Wickstrom, who listed a number of current projects, from senior living communities and multi-family homes to custom-designed single-family homes and sewage systems.

Over the past 11 years, Erhardt has experienced significant growth, expanding geographically and focusing on diversified market sectors such as senior housing, industrial, higher education, hospitality and residential.

Earlier this year, Erhardt opened a second office in downtown Muskegon.

“We are putting down roots in Muskegon. We want to have a local presence and hire local staff,” he said.

Since opening in February, Erhardt has announced numerous upcoming projects, including the redevelopment of the Catholic charity’s former home, the redevelopment of 880 First Street, the Muskegon Surgery Center and the Muskegon Museum of Art.

Ben Wickstrom, photo courtesy

“It’s a great honor to celebrate our 60th anniversary in West Michigan this year,” said Wickstrom. “Our 60-year journey has been made possible in large part by the success and growth of our surrounding communities in West Michigan. We are blessed to live in beautiful surroundings

Region that has consistently achieved economic prosperity.”

Erhardt is not only expanding its services into new markets, last month Erhardt was awarded the 2022 Safety Award of Excellence from Associated Builders and Contractors, Western Michigana chapter.

“Safety is our most important value,” says Nate Potter, Safety Director at Erhardt. “Priorities and efforts can changee when situations and problems arise. Core values ​​are the fundamentals that drive how and when you prioritize and make efforts.” Those fundamental efforts have paid off because this year is also ten years without downtime for Erhardt.

The Covid Pandemicwedc was a particularly difficult time for the business. Wickstrom is proud of his team and how thThey continued to work even though the sites were closed for two months, and he took what he called a huge leap of faith when he decided not to lay off any of his employees.

“We have effectively been 100% shut down. At that time we were not doing healthcare work and our projects were not in the Essential category. We were pretty confident that our construction sites would close. We were at a video meeting. I remember that very first meeting. We have all employed. We didn’t fire anyone, not even our hourly workers who were at home. That decision was a no-brainer.

“We got through it well. I’m proud of our people. They continued to meet and make plans for when things would come back. They stayed productive, fully engaged. Working from home, one of the most challenging times of my career, now we as a company have weathered that period. Came out better than we went in,” Wickstrom said.

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