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White Construction: ‘Getting it Did’ for 30 Years

The Detroit-based, Minority Business Enterprise specializes in general contracting, preconstruction, design-build, and construction management.

When you ask Donovan White, President of White Construction, about the core values of the company his father Bernard started 30 years ago, he’ll talk about the importance of client engagement and a passion for excellence. Then he mentions a more unconventional value that he and the 12 employees that make up White Construction abide by: “Get it did.”

“We always use it in the past tense,” Donovan says. “We’re not trying to ‘get it done,’ we’re ‘getting it did,’ as in it’s already done. On to the next item.”

Fittingly, Barton Malow has been there to help White Construction “get it did” on a number of projects the two firms formed joint ventures on together. Barton Malow also helped Donovan cut his teeth in the industry, hiring him as a LEAPS summer intern while he was earning his degree at Lawrence Technological University years ago.

“Me and Barton Malow, we see eye to eye,” he says. “Barton Malow has really helped not only my personal career, but my business career, from the beginning of my soul searching in construction through the last project we worked on together.”

And that last project just so happens to be one of the most transformational projects in Detroit, not to mention for White Construction: Little Caesars Arena, where it made up the Barton Malow, Hunt, White (BMHW) construction team.

Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.

“It was a great, yet stressful, experience,” Donovan says, noting the challenge of building it on time with the changes that occurred with the design. “Also just working alongside (Barton Malow Builders Vice President) Sean Hollister. I need to give great ups to him. He’s a great guy, I love working with him.”

Three decades in the making

Donovan currently serves as the President of White Construction, but it was his father Bernard who started the company in 1989 with nothing but his life savings and the experience he had gained working for two other area contractors prior.

Today, Bernard continues in an advisory role as Donovan has taken the reins – and he has his sights set on strengthening the staff, getting into new markets and reengaging with old markets, and possibly even opening a new office outside of its current Detroit location to support more work throughout Michigan and the Midwest.

And while Donovan says White Construction’s solo project “sweet spot” is around the $10 million mark, he looks forward to continuing to partner with other general contractors like Barton Malow on bigger projects.

“(My father) has nothing but good things to say about Barton Malow,” he says. “I share those same sentiments. We have a great, open relationship.”