Gray Named ENR 2023 Midwest Contractor of the Year
“This is a tremendous honor but more so an incredible accomplishment for our teams,” says Brian Jones, President & CEO of Gray Construction. “It’s a direct reflection of our team members demonstrating our values, executing excellence, and fulfilling our purpose to make a positive difference and build a better future. I’m extremely proud of all our teams have accomplished.”
Gray has a host of incredible customers and projects in the Midwest region such as the industry transforming BlueOval SK battery park, a freeze-dried pet food manufacturing facility for Instinct Pet Food, LOTTE’s aluminum cathode foil manufacturing facility, and the expansion and improvement of T. Marzetti’s salad dressing manufacturing facility, among many others.
2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic brought uncertainty to parts of the industrial market, while at the same time, firmly establishing many other areas of the market as essential. Gray was well-positioned as a partner for companies looking to build and saw a more than 175% increase in work within the Midwest region from 2020-2022.
“We saw every one of our markets start to accelerate in terms of growth. At the same time, there’s a convergence with our capabilities and résumé, where a number of companies were planning $500-million projects—new megaprojects,” says Jones. “So, we had really good sales [in 2020] that surpassed all expectations. In 2022, we saw the results of all that hard work, as the work was being put in place.”
Gray is also currently ranked by Engineering News-Record as the No. 1 firm for the Food & Beverage industry. But now, the same growth and success seen on that side of the business is showing up in new areas.
“There are so many projects out there related to chips, batteries, and solar that we’re growing there even faster than we were growing in food & beverage,” says Jones. “So, it’s all coming together in terms of our skill sets, service offerings, the people we’ve hired and the customers that want to work with us. You’re really just seeing that happen now.”
Built on Trust
Clemens’ pork processing facility in Coldwater, MI, was another large project in the region. This one, built on relationships, was due in large part to shared values between the two companies.
“We wanted a general contractor that would be a cultural fit with our company,” says Eric Patton, senior vice president of growth and development at Clemens Food Group. “We are a family-owned company. Gray is a family-owned company. This was a first major new project, and we needed to have somebody we really trusted and that we felt would give us the right guidance.”
Jones attributes the values that helped launch the business back in 1960 as the same guardrails that have helped the business grow to its current size.
“Those [values] are things that were in conversations as the company started to grow and mature—and they still live with us today,” says Jones. “Gray pretty much mirrors some of our values, which would be honesty, integrity, and passion for excellence,” says Wes Oertli, director of capital project management at Instinct Pet Food. “They also tend to have a better ownership mentality than some other general contractors that I’ve experienced. They are considerably more transparent, which helps build a relationship based on trust and competence.”
For this ranking, Gray was selected from among more than 80 participating firms.
Featured Projects in the Midwest
Consistently ranked among the top industrial contractors in the U.S., Gray focuses on the following markets for domestic and international customers: Food & Beverage, Manufacturing, Automotive, Distribution, Mission Critical, and Commercial, with nearly 30 offices across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Founded in 1960, Gray’s dedicated team operates cohesively to deliver scalable solutions from process improvement to plant design and construction. Our experienced teams offer unique service platforms to help you implement smart manufacturing initiatives, maximize ROI through process improvement, provide a streamlined source for system design and integration, and deliver top-tier custom contract-manufacturing and fabrication, all while delivering unmatched precision and partnership to some of the world’s most sophisticated organizations.
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