Lakewood Soars With Stroop
HOLLAND — Although Lakewood Inc. President Jim Stroop had a successful business and prominent place in the Holland community, he wanted more.
He wanted to fly.
Now a pilot with his own Cessna 182, Stroop has flown since September with Wings of Mercy, an organization that provides free transportation for those who need treatment at distant medical facilities, and he looks forward to continuing that service in the future.
“I think a part of it is if you like flying you look for every opportunity you can to fly, and Wings is just such a great organization that you’re kind of killing two birds with one stone,” he said. “You’re helping fulfill a need and enjoying what you’re doing at the same time.”
As the president of Lakewood, Stroop, 57, and his company fulfill many needs in the Holland area. With projects up and down West Michigan ranging from municipal buildings to churches, Stroop said the partnership between the community and his business is a great one.
“The community has been really good to Lakewood over the years,” he said.
Stroop said he and his company have tried to show thanks for the support by giving back to the community. As the chairman of the Holland Community Hospital Board of Trustees, former Park Township Planning Commission chairman, a Leadership Holland alumnus, member of the Holland Area Joint Building Authority and the 1998 Holland Area Small Business Person of the Year, volunteering is second nature to Stroop.
“I think growing up in Holland, there has always been a spirit of ‘never take more than you can give.’ Holland and West Michigan have been good to me,” he said. “I think people that have different talents have an obligation, if you will, to use those talents to benefit others.”
Though he said volunteering in the community is his hobby, the presence of University of Michigan sports memorabilia shows that he has other interests, as well. Stroop admits he is a big fan of the Maize and Blue and the proud holder of six season tickets since 1972.
Stroop earned a degree in architecture at the University of Michigan before entering the National Guard. He moved back to his hometown after serving in the guard because his wife had a job in Holland. He started at Lakewood in 1978 as a project manager, then bought out a partner of the company and became president in 1982. Scott Nykerk, who has worked with Stroop since 1982, bought out another partner and joined Stroop in 1989 as Lakewood’s vice president.
Since Stroop became president, the company has grown from a general contracting company to working with designing, building and construction management. The company also works in real estate development.
“In all of these fields, we partner with other entities,” he said. “There’s plenty of ways to spread it.”
Nykerk said Stroop brings a strong architectural and financial background to the company.
“He’s more of the detailed, figure-it-out guy,” he said. Nykerk handles more of the sales aspect of the company. “We complement each other very well.”
Nykerk said Stroop is especially good at setting long-term goals and strategically meeting them, such as the growth of the company.
Stroop said he got his start in construction from his family. His father was a brick mason, his uncle was an architect and his grandfather was in construction.
“I think it’s something that just comes up there in the blood and environment,” he said.
With the company taking on so many different roles in the construction business, Stroop makes the company’s first priority clear.
“We are first and foremost a construction company,” he said. “We build buildings.”
One of the company’s biggest projects is an ongoing relationship with Zeeland Public Schools. Since the mid-1990s Stroop said Lakewood has done just less than $100 million worth of construction with the district.
“Our goals for the next few years are just to continue to expand our opportunities on the shoreline and in West Michigan,” he said.
When asked what he was proud of, Stroop said he tends to be a humble person, but one thought did come to mind.
“I’m proud of my company and the people in it,” he said. “This company is only as good as the people you work with. You surround yourself with those quality people.”
Lakewood reached $50 million in sales last year and employs about 44 people.
“We look forward to many more years of good relationships and good business in the community and all along the west side of Michigan.”