SIDNEY – Ferguson Construction Co. is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, having survived the Great Depression in its early years and growing exponentially in recent years.
With more than 350 employees, Ferguson specializes in creating health care, commercial, government, educational, industrial, retail and manufacturing spaces. Its diverse portfolio includes projects of all sizes, from new facilities to renovations and additions.
In a time before power tools, the company remodeled houses, restored structures from fire damage and did small concrete jobs. Ferguson’s equipment heading into the 1930s consisted of a 1929 Ford pick-up, a one-bag mixer, a couple of wheelbarrows, some shovels, a mortar box and a couple of extension and step ladders.
During the Depression, Frank Courter and Co. President Murray Ferguson kept the business alive by restoring structures due to fire damage because insurance companies were certain to pay. According to an account by Murray Ferguson’s daughter, Martha Stewart, there was a saying in Sidney at the time, “Wherever there was a fire truck, Ferguson Construction Co. was right behind!”
The end of World War II brought a surge of new construction projects. Ferguson Construction quickly grew and became well-known for doing the complete package including engineering, surveying and project supervision.
Rising through the ranks at Ferguson from laborer to foreman to general manager, Thomas E. Given assumed the presidency in 1978 and displayed a creative vision for taking the company into the future, pushing it toward more commercial and industrial work.
Thomas E. Given understood capacity and never accepted more projects than could be completed on time and with consistent quality. His focus was on building strong relationships with both his employees and customers.
Thomas E. Given’s successor, Richard Scott, brought a new management style to Ferguson, creating an executive committee and department managers. He also emphasized safety and expanded the tradition of community service started by his predecessors. When he retired, annual sales growth topped $70 million.
After graduating from the University of Dayton in 1979 with a civil engineering degree, Martin “Mick” Given started as a project manager/estimator, transitioned to operations manager and then to executive vice president. In 2000, Mick Given became Ferguson’s sixth president.
Mick Given navigated the company through the implementation of new technologies and the recession of 2008. Emphasizing safety, quality and customer care, annual sales more than doubled to $170 million.
In 2018, Mick Given moved into the role of CEO and chairman of the board, turning over the reins of the presidency to Douglas Fortkamp, who also is a University of Dayton graduate in civil engineering and a professional engineer.
“Ferguson provides a value-based, honest product that is so desirable because it is not offered by everyone,” Fortkamp said. “We control our growth because we search for the right clients. It is less to do with the type of building but more about the quality the client wants. We can all use the same steel, but it is how you work with clients that make the Ferguson difference.”
In December 2019, the company kicked off its 100-year celebration heading into 2020 with the annual Ferguson Christmas party for employees, a company tradition dating back to its early days. The party included a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, door prizes and a Christmas feast. During the party, Ferguson announced a company-sponsored trip to the Columbus Zoo for employees and their families as apart of the 100-year celebrations in mid-October.
Ferguson also is planning a celebration with customers and community leaders in early September at the corporate office in Sidney. A part of this celebration will include the dedication of the Ferguson Shelter to the city of Sidney. There will then be a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours for area business leaders.
Keeping with the company’s mission of giving back to the community, Ferguson will sponsor the main stage for Sidney Alive’s Music and Art Festival in September and will host its annual Touch-a-Truck and Garage Sale on Aug. 22 with proceeds benefiting the Shelby County Relay for Life.