Construction and Real Estate

Construction firm partners with Detroit builder

October 2, 2013
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Construction firm partners with Detroit builder
Roger Rehkopf. Courtesy Orion Construction

A Grand Rapids construction firm has joined forces with one of Detroit’s oldest commercial builders to bid on growth in West Michigan.

West Michigan market

Orion Construction revealed this month it has entered into a teaming agreement with Walbridge, which will find both firms cooperating on construction bids for selected West Michigan projects when location, size or complexity matter.

“West Michigan is a vibrant, innovative region that’s enjoying a lot of growth,” said Kirk Frownfelter, Walbridge general manager for its West Michigan operations. “We want to be a part of more projects that make an impact on the region, and we think Orion is the best group to partner with on that.”

“Public-private partnerships and larger developments demand an increased level of capability and coordination,” said Roger Rehkopf, Orion senior vice president. “Our agreement with Walbridge means that we can not only meet those needs, but continue to foster benefits beyond the construction site.

“We’re certain the agreement will open doors for both companies,” added Rehkopf, “and when it does, the state will benefit by keeping construction dollars flowing through Michigan companies.”

Walbridge began operations in 1916 and has 1,000 employees in North America, South America and the Middle East. The firm recently reported annual revenues of $1.3 billion.

Arena Place collaboration

The first project in the joint venture will find Walbridge working with Orion on Arena Place, a $28-million development planned for Ottawa Avenue near the arena, which will deliver market-rate apartments, Class A office suites, retail space and above- and below-ground parking.

The companies said work on the project will begin during next year’s first quarter.

The ‘80s

A relationship between the two firms began to develop during the early 1980s, when Orion CEO John Boonstra and Walbridge Executive Vice President Randy Abdallah worked together in the Detroit office of ElissDon, a firm based in London, Ontario.

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