Butt Construction thrives where it always has, with federal, Wright-Patt projects

With a history of working for the Air Force, business stays busy with federal projects nationwide.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

When it comes to Dayton-area government construction projects, one name seems to come up again and again: Butt Construction Co. Inc.

Perhaps the Beavercreek company’s biggest project at the moment is the new child development center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

It’s a design-building project, with the design phase complete and dirt being moved on Wright-Patterson’s Area A.

If you’re counting, this will be the third child development center Butt has worked on for the base.

Another big project, this one well outside the Dayton area, is in Southfield Mich.: Butt is building a vehicle maintenance facility for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers there. That contract amount is about $18.7 million.

The company is also finishing projects in Millington, Tenn.; Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Aberdeen, Md.; San Antonio, St. Louis and Crane, Ind.

“Our bread and butter is the federal government, not just Wright-Patterson,” said Rachel Butt, president of Butt Construction.

Wright-Patterson is indeed a mainstay for the company. Butt has 11 projects in various stages currently at the sprawling, two-area Air Force base.

Chief among those projects (besides the child development center) is a retaining wall on the base’s Area B. The wall is bracing the side of the hill, behind a building. That job has a contract value of roughly $3.1 million.

“It’s a very cool project,” Butt said. “It’s just something you don’t do very often. It’s just a real huge retaining wall.”

The company is also renovating Wright-Patt Building 490 and is working on steam stanchions, which deliver heat to base structures.

Those who have followed the firm for a long time no doubt see a trend. The company has completed 261 projects at Wright-Patt since 1962.

Butt itself has been around much longer than that. The firm was founded in 1927. However, paper records for a multitude of construction projects between the late 1920s and the early 1960s were lost when a flood destroyed the records in a Columbus office basement.

“That history is gone,” Butt said.

In one sense, though, that history remains all around us.

Butt helped build the dam that created Caesar Creek State Park in 1972. Butt’s father, William T. Butt Jr., was a quality control engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers in that project. (Rachel Butt’s grandfather was William T. Butt.)

Perhaps most memorably, there was the BRAC project.

A joint venture that included Butt Construction won the contract award on the site that was to house the bulk of missions that consolidated at Wright-Patterson as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) decisions.

Archer Western Contractors, LTD (today known as Walsh Construction) and Butt won the award for some $194.5 million for the 680,000-square-foot Human Performance Wing complex.

”This is the largest single military construction contract award in the Louisville District’s history,” Mark Yates, then the chief of the Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District contracting division, said in 2008.

Butt had also been awarded a $15.8 million BRAC construction contract for utilities and road work in Area B. That included the relocation of busy Gate 19B.

“All the utilities. We had to move the gate. Steamlines, electrical, all of that,” she said. “It was a huge project.”

Further back, her family was responsible for the building of Building 821, on the base’s Area B near the corner of National Road and McClellan Drive — long known as “the Barn.”

Finding a niche working for the federal government wasn’t necessarily the result of a strategy, Butt said. But years of taking that approach confirms its wisdom.

“I think it was just happenstance,” she said. “It’s something that we’re just good at doing.”

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