September 26, 2011

Local Humanitarian, Business Executive and Church Leader, Ben C. Maibach Jr., Dies

Southfield, MI, September 25, 2011 - Ben (Benjamin) C. Maibach, Jr., Chairman Emeritus of Barton Malow Company, humanitarian and community leader who served on over 20 business, professional association and community service boards of directors died on September 24, 2011, at age 91.

Maibach was a prominent fixture in the Detroit business community serving on numerous Boards of Directors: American Red Cross, YWCA, First of America Bank, Michigan Safety Council, New Detroit, Inc., Associated General Contractors, United Foundation and Woodhaven Retirement Community. He was a Trustee of Lawrence Technological University, Rural Gospel and Medical Missions of India and the Maibach Foundation.

Maibach is recognized for growing Barton Malow into one of the major construction services firms in the United States (the largest in Michigan). Under his guidance, the company developed specialties in healthcare, education and industrial facilities and has retained many of its clients for decades, including General Motors, Chrysler, University of Michigan and Beaumont Hospital.

It was Maibach’s goal that his employees share directly in company prosperity. Therefore, in 1951, the company established a profit sharing/pension plan for employees — the first for a construction firm in the United States.

Maibach’s real legacy was church work, community involvement and family. He firmly believed that any business success was the product of having God, family and work priorities in that order.

He was born May 24, 1920, in Bay City, Michigan, to Lucile and Benjamin Maibach, Sr. In the heart of the depression, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan, in search of better employment opportunities. When his grandmother died in 1935, Maibach went back to Bay City to bring in the crops and tend the family homestead with his uncle, an enormous responsibility for a 15-year-old. This is when he earned his life long nickname of “Farmer”.

It was Maibach’s dream to have a farm of his own. Toward that end, he “briefly” left Bay City in 1938 to work for his father, employed as a carpenter foreman at Barton Malow — then a small Detroit-based general contractor. He hoped that within a few years he’d save enough for a down payment on a farm.

Unexpectedly, his career path was set into fast forward. Within a short time his leadership potential was recognized and he was promoted to foreman at Barton Malow, overseeing a building addition at Gar Wood Industries, in Wayne, Michigan. Characteristically, he credited project success to his co-workers for their support and willingness to teach him.

Maibach’s jobs were notable for their emphasis on safety, insistence on quality workmanship, fair and equal treatment of everyone involved on a project and providing maximum value and service to the client. These high standards did not go unnoticed, and in 1949, when he was not yet 30 years old, he was promoted from general field superintendent to director of field operations, with the title of vice president. In 1953, he became executive vice president, rising to president in 1960, chairman in 1976, and Chairman Emeritus in 2002.

Though he retired from active management in the early 80s, he was a familiar figure at the Barton Malow corporate headquarters and continued to serve on the Barton Malow Board of Directors until 2006. In all, his tenure at Barton Malow spanned 68 years. Maibach was known to frequently quote Psalm 127 - “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.”

It is impossible to understand Ben Maibach, Jr. without acknowledging, as he phrased it, “his relationship with God.” He gave precedence to humanitarian and church-related activities as a Bishop, presiding at weddings, funerals, and taking time for hospital and nursing home visits.

He traveled throughout the world to help set-up missions, churches, orphanages and schools. Highlights of his involvement include organizing an orphanage and a health clinic in India, helping win the release of imprisoned Christian ministers in Yugoslavia, and over 20 trips to the Orient for mission activities. He very firmly believed that no person, on their deathbed, ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Lorene (Belsley) Maibach. He is survived by eight children: Kathleen Irwin of Northville, Benjamin III Maibach (Barb) of Farmington Hills, Alan Maibach (Terese) of Sarasota, FL, Connie Kahler (Roger) of Morton, IL, Beverly Bahr (Mark) of
Farmington Hills, Cynthia Hitz (Thomas) of Plymouth, Sheryl Maibach of Farmington Hills, and Douglas Maibach (Carole) of Commerce Township. He was grandfather to twenty-one and great-grandfather to twenty-five.

Visitation will be held at the Harry J. Will Funeral Home, 37000 Six Mile Road, Livonia, MI 48152 (between Newburgh and Levan Roads.), in Livonia, Michigan on Tuesday, September 27, from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The funeral service will take place on Wednesday, September, 28, at the Apostolic Christian Church, 29575 Wentworth Avenue, Livonia, Michigan, at 11:30 a.m., where Maibach served as a minister for 50 years.

In lieu of flowers or plants, the family kindly requests memorial donations to the non-profit Woodhaven Retirement Community or the American Red Cross, where Maibach formerly served on the Board of Directors and whole-heartedly supported:

Woodhaven Retirement Community
C/o Randy Gasser, Administrator
29667 Wentworth
Livonia, Michigan 48154

American Red Cross
Michigan Chapter
P.O. Box 44110
Detroit, MI 48244-0110