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Michigan Master of Construction Delivery

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Wolverine Building Group is a general contractor and construction management company headquartered in Grand Rapids, West Michigan. A nationally recognised construction leader backed by an impressive eighty years of service, Wolverine Building Group prides itself on being one of West Michigan’s most trusted construction companies. It’s not unusual for a construction company to claim involvement in all facets of construction, but in the case of Wolverine Building Group the claim is meant quite literally. One day you might see the company building natural habitats for the animals at John Ball Zoo or a state-of the art healthcare facility, while the next it’s busy raising the roof on a multi-storey hotel building or bringing a new Wendy’s restaurant to a North American town. Whatever it does comes with an excellence that stems from eight decades of experience.

Wolverine Building Group works primarily in four market segments, all of whiach brings it varied levels of demand depending on socioeconomic trends. The first is the multi-family market, followed by industrial, commercial, and finally the National Accounts division. Within these market segments Wolverine Building Group provides a long list of construction services, from General Contracting and Construction Management to Design/Build and Historic Preservation.

The multi-family market is wide ranging and includes affordable housing, market-rate units, historical renovation, student housing, senior living, and in-place rehab. “That’s been my main focus for the last couple of years,” says Kurtis Fritz, Senior Project Manager at Wolverine Building Group. “I’m currently working on a 233-unit apartment building in Brighton, Michigan called Vista. That’s going to be one of largest single construction projects in the city. It’s a very cool apartment building, very modern. It has a large central courtyard, the middle of the building is carved out and open to the sky, so the residents have a nice secure outdoor area to hang out.” Another project that falls under the umbrella of the multi-family market is Home2Suites by Hilton, a 4-story residential building in Byron Center, Michigan. The building also hosts a saltwater pool, outdoor patio seating, a fire pit, and electrical vehicle charging facilities. The project’s complex design was achieved through Wolverine Building Group’s extensive pre-planning process and its unique ability to understand the project’s intricate needs.

The commercial construction market is a catch-all for everything else and can include projects such as healthcare facilities, offices, and business complexes. On the Commercial side Fritz is quick to highlight the Helen Devos Children’s Hospital, a state-of-the-art healthcare facility dedicated to paediatric care. “That was probably one of the most-high profile projects we’ve done,” he says. The construction of the facility included the use of Building Information Modelling, or BIM, which provides a digital representation of a built asset based on collaboratively assembled information and acts as a shared source of knowledge which can be accessed during the building’s life cycle, from conception to demolition. Fritz also mentions John Ball Zoo which represents some of the more speciality work that Wolverine Building Group has grown accustomed to. “We do a lot of work with John Ball Zoo on various animal habitats and other improvements around the zoo facility,” he says. Since 2017 Wolverine Building Group and John Ball Zoo have completed 14 projects together in what continues to be a successful partnership.

The National Accounts division focuses on big-brand retailers and fast-food restaurants across the country. Joining me to provide insight on that is General Superintendent, Jeff Hennip. “Taco Bells, McDonalds, Wendy’s, basically any of the big fast-food joints that you see all around America,” says Hennip.

The fast-food and retail market in America is one that shows no sign of slowing down, and so this is an ever-expanding market segment for Wolverine Building Group and one that acts as a safety net when times are tough. “That division really carried us through the covid years” says Hennip, reflecting on a time when restaurants and drive-throughs remained quite profitable. “Those four divisions and our adaptability to move to whatever is the best is really what makes us special,” he continues. “We have a great team here who can roll with punches. If industrial is slow, we focus on multi-family, and if multi-family is slow, we focus on commercial.”

Residence Inn by Marriott

In talking about Wolverine Building Groups standout projects, both Hennip and Fritz are in agreement that the 10 Ionia Residence Inn by Marriott is not to go unmentioned. “That was a 13-story building that helped further shape the skyline here in Downtown Grand Rapids,” says Fritz. “10 Ionia was full of challenges and full of attributes from the team,” Hennip adds. “The building alone was challenging on every aspect. It was shaped like a pie with curved corners, all precast.” Aside from the physical challenges, the project was also built during covid and right through all the riots that were going on at the time. “Without a great team that project could have fallen apart,” says Hennip. “Not only our internal team but all of our trade partners, we all went through the very same stuff and everyone really stepped it up there.”

“Its ongoing goal is to be the Master of Construction Delivery in Michigan and beyond.”

Hennip is perhaps most proud when he goes on to talk about Wolverine Building Group’s non-profit work, namely the 3-story building for Covenant House located on the East Side of the state. This involved the construction of a temporary housing shelter for youths who are experiencing, or at risk of homelessness. The facility allows Covenant House to take in kids, give them housing, help them find work and get them placed into programs for GEDs. “That project was near and dear to my heart, and the heart of Wolverine Building Group because we love our community. Here at Wolverine if you give to an organization, ownership will always match your funds. That makes us pretty special.”

Hennip touches on Wolverine Building Group’s superior level of service which is evident in the partnerships it continues to build. “One of the most exciting things we’ve got going on is our partnership with QT Travel stations, starting down south and working their way up to the mid-west,” he says. “We started that partnership a couple of years ago in the south and they’ve leaned on us to bring them to the north. We’ve got three going on currently in Illinois and hoping to have another three in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. It’s a great partnership and that’s really what it comes down to – having someone that really understands you and you understanding them. It makes a big difference.”

Wolverine Building Group is busy at work across the state of Michigan, navigating its four market segments and adding new projects to an already-impressive portfolio. Its ongoing goal is to be the Master of Construction Delivery in Michigan and beyond, a goal it is on the right path towards achieving.

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