TURNER CELEBRATES 100TH ANNIVERSARY
Turner Construction Company is celebrating its 100th anniversary on May 6, 2002. Turner Construction Company is the major subsidiary of The Turner Corporation, Dallas, the leading general builder in the United States.
With record construction volume of $6.3 billion in 2001, The Turner Corporation ranks first in most major segments of the building construction industry. Turner maintains a nationwide network of 42 offices and a staff of more than 4,700 employees, performing work on over 1,500 projects each year.
Turner Construction Company was founded in New York City in 1902 by Henry Chandlee Turner, a civil engineering graduate of Philadelphia’s Swarthmore College who brought a patented concrete reinforcing technique to the New York market. He was soon awarded contracts for constructing the concrete station stairways for New York City’s first subway line. In 1904, his company built the Gair Building in Brooklyn, the largest reinforced concrete building in the U.S. at the time. His reinforced concrete method soon became the accepted standard for constructing multi-storied industrial buildings.
By the time of the First World War, the company was well into the first rank of American construction firms. Following U.S. entry into the war, Turner was awarded a contract for a huge supply storehouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and other war-related facilities representing 10.6 million square feet of building space. The Army Supply Base in South Brooklyn comprised approximately 125 acres of total floor area. Turner’s speed in completing Navy and War Office buildings in Washington, DC received favorable comment on the floor of Congress.
Geographic expansion brought new growth and opportunities. Work was completed in Cleveland in 1907, and offices were opened in Buffalo in 1908 and Boston in 1916. In the early 1920s, an office was established in Philadelphia and one in Atlanta to develop projects in the south. Turner entered the emerging high-rise market with a contract for the 15-story structural steel and brick Genesee Building in Buffalo, awarded in 1921. Contracts in the Midwest for clients such as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company and American Can Company led to the creation of an office in Chicago in 1926. Notable projects included the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, FL; Franklin Field for the University of Pennsylvania; a store for Bloomingdale Brothers, Inc. in New York; and the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company headquarters in Springfield, MA.
For almost 80 of the company’s first 100 years, there was always a Turner among its most senior leaders. In 1941, at 70, Henry was succeeded by his youngest brother,
J. A. Turner, who led the company’s contributions to the war effort, including the building of factories, ships and airbase facilities in the Pacific. In November 1946, Henry Chandlee Turner, Jr. took over control of the company. He enjoyed a 24-year tenure as president and chairman, increasing the company’s annual volume of work by more than 1,000 percent.
The 1950s and Beyond
By the early 1950s, Turner was in the forefront of the high-rise building boom. Mutual of New York Insurance Company moved into its new 25-story, Turner-built headquarters in New York City in record time, and in Boston, Turner had changed the skyline by constructing the 26-story John Hancock building. A 64-story headquarters for U.S. Steel was built in Pittsburgh as well.
Turner continued to expand, completing numerous landmark projects across the U.S. while establishing an international division and real estate development arm. Becoming a public company in 1969, a listing was established on the American Stock
Exchange in 1972. Significant accomplishments in Cleveland during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s included: The Tower at Erieview, the Diamond Center, Ameritrust Office Building, Cuyahoga County Justice Center/Cleveland Police Headquarters, National City Center, North Point Office Building, and the Galleria at Erieview.
By 1995, Turner had staff resources of 2,600, more than a dozen operating subsidiaries and a presence in most major cities, thus maintaining its position as the preeminent construction company in the U.S. The company listed its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in 1998. From 1996-2001, Turner’s value of construction completed nearly doubled. Income from construction operations increased three-fold. In September 1999, Turner was acquired by HOCHTIEF AG, Germany’s largest construction firm and one of the world’s leading construction companies.
Under the leadership of Thomas C. Leppert, chairman and chief executive officer of The Turner Corporation and Robert E. Fee, president and chief executive officer of Turner Construction Company, Turner remains the industry leader. The company directs some of the most significant and highly visible projects under construction in the U.S. Current and recently completed projects in Cleveland include: The Cleveland Clinic Intercontinental Hotel, Cuyahoga Community College, Akron Civic Theatre, John Carroll University Science & Technology Center, Eastlake Ballpark, Lorain City Schools, MetroHealth Critical Care Pavilion and the U.S. Courthouse. According to Karen A. Sweeney, Vice President and General Manager for the Cleveland office, Turner has thrived by remaining true to the values of its founder. "From the start, founder Henry C. Turner realized the importance of staffing his organization with talented and well-educated engineers who shared his commitment to integrity, teamwork and client service," she states. "These are three enduring principles that have guided the company to this very day."
Mr. Leppert added, "As a company, we are at the strongest point in our 100-year history, measured by market position and financial strength. In the next 25 years, we have no doubt that Turner will remain the industry leader, the general builder of choice. Turner will achieve its goals by remaining faithful to the principles set forth by Henry C.
Turner in 1902."
Mr. Fee noted that, "The new firm was built on innovation, specializing in offering new technologies and approaches to old problems." He adds, "This emphasis on people, education and innovation is still in evidence 100 years after the company’s founding. Turner prides itself on hiring the best people, offering the best training programs in the industry and employing the latest technologies available to better meet our clients’ needs. Over 60 percent of Turner’s contracts are repeat business. We continue to expand a client base that includes many Fortune 500 companies, international firms, public entities, institutions and individual owner developers."