Where We’ve Been
Erhardt Construction is a general contracting and construction management firm that has been an integral contributor to West Michigan’s changing skyline for 53 years.
Erhardt Through the Decades
The company was founded in 1962 by Larry Erhardt, Sr. At age 31, Larry took a leap of faith when he started the company, working from an office in the basement of his home in Grand Rapids.
Erhardt’s first projects were smaller commercial construction, educational facilities, churches and civil/infrastructure projects.
The firm performed work on the Allendale campus of Grand Valley State College (now University) in 1963, the same year the college accepted its first class of students.
Growth occurred steadily, and Erhardt doubled its volume four years in a row.
Near the end of the decade, Erhardt built the DeWitt Cultural Center at Hope College in Holland, and the library addition at Calvin College in Grand Rapids.
The 1970s provided a turning point for Erhardt Construction. The firm attained several significant projects, both in size and complexity, including Grand Rapids Junior College, Mary Free Bed Hospital, new school facilities for Grand Rapids Public Schools,, and water/wastewater improvements for many West Michigan communities.
Erhardt performed major renovations and additions to Butterworth Hospital, including the south patient tower, a 400-car parking facility and new mechanical systems and interior upgrades of the original hospital.
There was significant change in downtown Grand Rapids as city leaders and developers sought urban renewal. It was during this period Erhardt constructed the Calder Plaza Building on Monroe Avenue.
A hallmark of Erhardt Construction is developing long-term relationships with clients. St. Robert of Newminster Church in Ada, is a wonderful example. The company performed work for the church beginning in the mid-70s and has constructed many projects since that time, including their new sanctuary and, most recently, the student ministry center.
In 1981, Erhardt began construction of one of the most iconic buildings in downtown Grand Rapids: the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Tower. The 29-story tower is highlighted by a glass roof and beautiful views of the Grand River. The concrete frame was constructed by the skilled workforce of Erhardt Construction and consisted of re-steel placement, post-tensioning, concrete placement and finishing. The woodwork throughout the facility is an example of the skilled capabilities of the company’s craftsmen. Dedication of the hotel tower took place in 1983.
Beginning in 1987, Erhardt was busy along the lakeshore constructing several projects for Prince Corporation (now JCI) in Holland. Over the next 10 years, Erhardt built more than 20 projects for Prince/JCI. From the Corporate Tech Center to the Acoustics Lab, Erhardt added, renovated and constructed new facilities for the company.
Erhardt Construction renovated the 33-story Plaza Towers, which consisted of luxury condominiums, apartments and a hotel. The project included replacement of the entire exterior façade of the building with precast concrete and new windows and extensive re-work of the cooling and ventilating systems, as well as making the structure more efficient and functional.
Van Andel Arena, which Erhardt constructed, hosted its first event in 1996. The arena brings diverse entertainment to the community, including concerts, family shows and sporting events. Its success has been phenomenal, and it continues to be ranked as a top venue in the United States.
In the '90s, Erhardt performed a significant amount of water works and wastewater infrastructure construction with municipalities throughout West Michigan.
The '90s also marked the start of a long-term relationship with Holland Home. Beginning with Raybrook Estates, Erhardt has constructed dozens of projects for Holland Home in the Senior Living market.
At the end of the decade, Erhardt constructed their first “sustainable design” project: the Grace Hauenstein Library for Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.
Beginning in 1996, Erhardt became the construction manager for Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan. Erhardt has been constructing facilities for Central Wesleyan ever since, including its new sanctuary, student ministry, “Gathering Grounds Café” and access roads.
2000 to Present
Two significant projects, the Van Andel Institute and DeVos Place, were constructed by Erhardt during the 2000s. The company is honored to be a part of these projects and the impact they have in enriching and enhancing lives.
Holland Home contracted with Erhardt Construction to lead the design development and construction process on a new independent senior living campus – Breton Terrace and Breton Ridge. The Terrace project was constructed in three phases over five years, beginning in June 2000. Erhardt constructed the Breton Ridge senior living facility in 2008.
Saint Mary's Health Care Sophia's House also was renovated in 2012. The guest house was updated for extended stays by families of patients at the hospital.
Erhardt finished work to relocate Amway's Nutrilite Powders Production Facility from Lakeview, California, to Ada, Michigan, in the fall of 2012. Shortly after this project was completed, Erhardt was selected to Design-Build their next production facility, the Nutrilite Soft Gels and Tablets Plant. This project began in 2013 and was completed in 2014.
Larry Erhardt, Sr. established Erhardt Construction as one of the area's most respected construction companies. To many in the industry, he has been a mentor and a source of advice, wisdom and knowledge. As a role model for future constructors, he offers some of the best examples of character, honor and integrity.
After earning a civil engineering degree from the University of Detroit, Larry worked in the Detroit area for five years, then moved to Grand Rapids. He started Erhardt Construction in the fall of 1962. At age 31, Larry took a leap of faith when he started the company, working from an office in his home. Business grew steadily and consisted of small projects for local commercial clients.
As part of the urban renewal movement in the 1970s, Erhardt built the Calder Plaza Building in downtown Grand Rapids. This was the first significant negotiated work for the company. A major milestone occurred when Erhardt Construction was selected to build the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Tower, which was dedicated in 1983. For Larry, the completion of the tower was a high point in his career, and it demonstrated the extent of Erhardt’s capabilities to the community.
Although retired, Larry continues to be involved in the construction industry of West Michigan. He is greatly respected by his peers and has established the trust and confidence of clients throughout West Michigan. The list of significant projects successfully completed by Erhardt Construction is a physical reminder of Larry's contribution to the community, but his legacy to our company and community goes beyond bricks and mortar. Larry's professionalism, kindness and humility will define Erhardt Construction for many generations.
Larry's son, Joe Erhardt, began working with his father in 1981. Joe has served the company in various positions for more than 30 years. Most recently, he was appointed Chairman and CEO of the company, focusing on strategies and client relations.
In 2011, Erhardt Construction named Ben Wickstrom as President. Ben manages the overall operation of the company, as well as providing direction and planning for the future.
Larry, Joe, Ben and all of our employees are proud of the 53 years Erhardt Construction has helped give shape to our city. The skyline is highlighted with structures, such as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Tower, Van Andel Arena, Plaza Towers, Van Andel Institute and the DeVos Place Convention Center. They are equally proud of the hundreds of other projects -- churches, schools, commercial and municipal facilities -- that have enhanced our community and represent our collective dreams. Delivering a superior product at a fair price has been the firm’s goal since its beginning and continues to be our primary goal today.