News

Forty Under Forty

By Crains Detroit Business

Bernard White, 38

President White Construction

Biggest Achievement:

Remaining on track to achieve a growth rate of $2 million a year by the fifth year of business.

Current goals:

"My ultimate goal is become a $20 million mid- to small-sized contractor."

Being an optimist and Detroit booster, Bernard White said he is in the best position for a contractor to be right now: a business working in Detroit.

"I think the city is poised for both public and private development.  A lot of pent-up demand exists for housing.  A lot of people have been sitting on the sidelines," said White.

The Detroit native graduated with honors from Lawrence Technological University in 1980 and earned his professional-engineer license in 1991.

From 1973 to 1981, White worked for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, then joined Turner Construction Co. as an assistant engineer.  At Turner, he was able to apply his water and sewerage experience to a number of jobs for the city, culminating in being project manager of a $108 million pumping station.

In 1989, White launched his own general-contracting and construction company, snaring jobs for detail and roofing work.

Today he is doing complete building erections and renovations with 15 employees based in his own headquarters building in the New Center Area.  White Construction had sales of $3.2 million in 1992, and he project sales of $6 million for 1993.

"I believe in growing in plateaus.  Grow a little and manage that," White said.  "For my market, the economy is improving.  It is not a big upswing, but as a small contractor, we should be able to find opportunity."

He applies all of his education, work ethics and "stick-to-it-ive-ness" to job.  That combination seems to have won him some fans.

C. Douglas Black, a former assistant vice president of facilities planning and management at Wayne State University, said White "has been straightforward and productive - when asked for a quote or bid, he is responsive and, win or lose, he stands behind his numbers."

The city's Water and Sewerage Department is still a major client for White, as in the Detroit Zoological Park.  But he is focusing on smaller but regular jobs in the private sector.  For instance, he is doing work for NBD Bancorp in Troy and downtown Detroit and a Comerica Bank project at Gratiot Avenue and Chene Street in Detroit.

"I think the city is poised for both public and private development.  A lot of pent-up demand exists for housing.  A lot of people have been sitting on the sidelines."

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Detroit, MI  48202-2906

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