Walbridge, one of America’s largest privately held construction companies, marks its 95th year in business today. The firm was founded on March 11, 1916 in Detroit by George B. Walbridge and Albert H. Aldinger, and throughout its history has constructed innovative projects in Michigan and across four continents.
Walbridge is marking the occasion by launching a new website, BuiltForGood.com. The site traces the company’s progress from its roots and profiles how values instilled by its founders continue to influence the organization nearly a century later.
“These men decided in 1916 to come to Detroit and form a new company that was going to take advantage of the tremendous growth going on in the auto business,” Chairman and CEO John Rakolta, Jr. said. “The culture they established was one of skill, responsibility and integrity. I always like to say there’s something in the water, and what I mean by that is there’s a history of this company that we all feel committed to. That’s our legacy. That’s why we honor them and maintain values they believed in.”
BuiltForGood.com has rich video content, powerful still imagery and compelling text. It shows how Walbridge leaders and employees exemplify keystone attributes of trust, integrity, safety and accountability as they create, construct, and contribute every day. Main sections of the new website cover: Values, Safety, Innovation, Projects and Community Works.
George Walbridge and Albert Aldinger first worked together in Chicago in the early 1900s. Then, Walbridge headed east to New York City and Aldinger ventured west to Winnipeg, Manitoba. The two men reconnected in Detroit in 1916 at a time when the opportunity to construct manufacturing plants, office buildings, hotels and entertainment venues was never greater.
On March 11, 1916 they created a firm focused on safe operations, maintaining customer trust and providing quality construction.
Within three-and-a-half years of its formation, Walbridge-Aldinger built:
- The 13-story Book Building (1917) on Washington Boulevard in downtown Detroit;
- The 600,000-square-foot Lincoln Motor Company plant (1918) at the corner of Livernois and West Warren in Detroit; and
- The 2,014-seat Orchestra Hall (1919), an acoustic marvel on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue.
A few notable projects among the hundreds constructed during the firm’s 95-year history include:
- Olympia Stadium (1927)
- United Artists Theater Building (1928)
- WWJ-AM Studio Building (1936)
- General Motors Wind Tunnel (1979)
- Detroit People Mover (1987)
- One Detroit Center (1992)
- Chrysler Technology Center and World Headquarters (2002)
- Compuware World Headquarters (2003)
- Ford Heritage 2000 Project (2004)
- Toyota Motor Manufacturing San Antonio Assembly Plant, Texas (2006)
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport North Terminal (joint venture with Barton Malow, 2008)
- National Alabama Corporation Rail Car Manufacturing Facility, Cherokee, Alabama (joint venture with Yates, 2009)
- North Quad Residential and Academic Complex, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2010)
- Embraer Aircraft Production Facility, Florida (2011)
- Ft. Stewart Fifth Infantry Brigade Combat Team Barracks Complex, Georgia (2011)
Aldinger served as CEO until his death in 1942. Walbridge died in 1955. Roy Pickett served as CEO from 1955-57 and was followed by G.K. Chapman, 1957-63. In 1963, John Rakolta, Sr. and his business partner Robert Robillard acquired Walbridge-Aldinger. In 1970, Rakolta succeeded Robillard as CEO. In 1993, John Rakolta, Jr. succeeded his father as Chairman and CEO and has directed the company to its current position in the top 50 of the 400-largest construction companies in America. In 2008, the firm retired “Aldinger” from the corporate name and unveiled a new, one company brand – Walbridge.