Shook shapes Dayton in 90 years of construction

Firm focuses on schools, hospitals, municipal water projects

No business persists for nine decades without finding its niche.

Shook Construction Co., celebrating 90 years in business this year, is no different.

The employee-owned company’s notable projects make up a long list: Good Samaritan Hospital, General Motors’ Moraine SUV assembly plant (now home to Fuyao Glass America), Wright State University’s Nutter Center, Atrium Medical Center in Middletown and more.

More recent projects include Dayton Metro Library branches and Roger Glass Stadium for Chaminade Julienne High School.

Shook has built 23 Dayton Public Schools buildings in four years. And most recently, Sinclair Community College hired Shook to manage a $31.5 million renovation of the campus health sciences center.

These are projects that change cities and stand the test of time, said Bill Whistler, Shook president and chief executive.

“We’re fortunate enough to be a part of really creating the fabric of the community,” Whistler said. “It’s fun.”

Shook has about 300 employees and sees about $200 million in annual revenue, the CEO said.

“It’s headed up,” he said of revenue. “This is a very healthy market.”

Tim Myers, Shook executive vice president, has been with the company since 1984. He oversees construction of water resources projects, wastewater treatment facilities, pumping stations and the like. That makes up about half of Shook’s work.

Shook approaches those jobs in its own way: Myers said the company “self-performs” municipal projects.

“We do all of our earthwork,” he said. “We do our site work, our piping. We install all the processing equipment; we do all of our own concrete and metals — with people that are on our payroll. We don’t subcontract that work.

“It’s just part of our niche.”

Myers thinks that kind of approach makes Shook more competitive. Those services and project components are already priced into proposals.

It also gives Shook more control over a crucial area of its business.

“Subcontractors are great, but they’re not always available when you need them,” he said. “They have their own schedules.”

Not many construction companies tackle heavy construction projects such as water facilities, then oversee construction of schools and hospitals, Myers said.

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law into 2010, some hospital systems pulled back on construction plans until they better understood how the legislation would affect them, Myers said. By being able to work in other areas, Shook was better able to weather a slowdown in that area, he said.

“By having a more diverse market — different market channels that we specialize in — it helps us through different economic climates,” Myers said.

What hasn’t changed are fundamentals, Shook executives say. Construction is still hard work. Visit any Shook construction site at 7 a.m. most mornings and you’ll probably find crews working outside in near-darkness, Whistler said.

Andy Goetz, Shook vice president, oversees education and health care projects. As far as commercial construction, there’s not a lot the company doesn’t do, he said.

“We don’t do road work and bridge work,” Goetz said. “Other than that, we’re pretty diversified.”

Diversity of location matters, too. Shook has offices in Dayton, Cleveland, Indianapolis and — established in the past five years — Raleigh, N.C.

In Raleigh, Shook is focusing on municipal water projects. Those will help establish the company in its newest city, the CEO believes.

“Because we’re cautious, we’re taking it nice and easy,” Whistler said.

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