The Century Club 2016

From linen services to packaging and construction companies, and from selling furs to machine bearings, DBusiness pays tribute to companies that are 100 years old or more.


Published:

(page 5 of 5)

Arthur shmina, and his son, Andrew shmina, stand in front of a photograph of Achilles zissi shmina, arthur's father and the founder of of a.z. shmina, a contruction company in Detroit. 

A.Z. Shmina

BUILDING FOR GENERATIONS

The university advisers had some discouraging, even bitterly ironic, news for Achilles Zissi Shmina. The immigrant from the former Yugoslavia, who had traveled from Turkey to the United States at age 15 and worked three jobs to pay for tuition at Carnegie Mellon’s engineering school, couldn’t graduate because he lacked credits in a foreign language.

“English is my foreign language,” a tearful Shmina, who actually spoke five languages, told the advisers. Whether it was his tears or a sudden logical illumination, the college eventually relented and granted him his hard-earned degree.

Shmina went on to work in Detroit with A.W. Kutsche & Co., a construction company that he eventually purchased and renamed A.Z. Shmina. Among the company’s marque projects are the Water Board Building on
Randolph in downtown Detroit, Crittenton Hospital Medical Center in Rochester Hills, Osborne High School on Detroit’s east side, the Michigan Science Center in Midtown (formerly the Detroit Science Center), and many other commercial and government projects.

To survive the Great Depression, Shmina and Arthur Kutsche whittled the company down to just themselves and their estimator. They kept the company going with government work, building post offices in Kentucky, Missouri and, finally, San Antonio, Texas. The job in Texas was so big that Shmina moved his family down there temporarily for two years. 

“Our families lived that,” recalls Arthur Shmina, 87, Achilles Shmina’s son and current chairman of the company, of the hard times.

Arthur eventually took over the business, after serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. During his service, he helped Uncle Sam build military bases in Japan. The subsequent decades from the early 1950s to the early 1990s were boom years: Shmina and his crews built schools, hospitals, university projects, offices, industrial parks, and wastewater facilities. 

In 1993, Arthur turned over the leadership of the company to his son, Andrew Shmina, who serves as president. Even so, Arthur continues to come to work every day. “He’s always there, but he’s never meddling,” Andrew says. In fact, he says he feels fortunate to have his father nearby for advice and guidance.

Andrew — who, like his father and grandfather, has a degree in civil engineering — started working for the company at age 14. “I think I was born and bred to run a construction company,” he says. “We’re working people.”

The company built the Detroit water  and sewage building along randolph  street in downtown detroit.

Andrew projects the company will do $30 million in volume this year through construction management services, which comprise 40 percent of its business; general contracting (50 percent); and design-build (10 percent). He has 30 employees, and has transitioned from his grandfather’s self-performance model to construction project management. Andrew’s brother, Michael, works at the firm as a project manager.

Current and recently completed projects include major operating room renovations at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and a bio-solids handling facility for Genoa and Osceola counties. The firm focuses on health care and institutional, infrastructure, and commercial projects. 

Its geographic reach is southeast Michigan, roughly banded by Interstate 69 and I-80 on the north and south, respectively, and the state’s eastern and western shorelines.

“But if General Motors (a regular customer) were to say there’s a job beyond that and (they) wanted (us) to bid it, we would,” says Arthur Shmina, giving a glimpse of the flexibility and loyalty the company shows to its clients. 

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

30 in Their Thirties 2018

The 2018 class of 30 in Their Thirties spans the business world, including employee staffing, finance, food production, health care, insurance, real estate development, and technology.

Roll 'Em

The film industry in metro Detroit, which is very much alive despite the end of sizeable state incentives that were designed to attract top-flight actors and directors, can draw big-budget production companies like Disney and Warner Bros. by building up a creative infrastructure.

Q&A: Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas is a co-founder of Fontinalis Partners, a venture capital firm in downtown Detroit focused exclusively on investing in technology companies that improve next-generation mobility.

Line of Flight

A longer runway at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, new golf courses and wineries, upgraded resorts, and revamped marketing campaigns are attracting more tourism in northern Michigan.

Integrating Circuits

Not since Detroit absorbed California hot-rod culture have the Motor City and the Golden State embraced each other so tight. The quest to perfect self-driving cars and find innovative mobility solutions made it happen. Is this the biggest story in American business?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. William Davidson Foundation Makes $1.7 Million Donation to the Belle Isle Aquarium
    The Belle Isle Conservancy today announced that the William Davidson Foundation in Troy has...
  2. Restoration of Old Wayne County Building in Downtown Detroit Gets $7M Makeover
    The ownership group of The Old Wayne County Building, located at 600 Randolph Street in downtown...
  3. Retail Tenants Announced For Bedrock’s Shinola Hotel in Downtown Detroit
    Bedrock has announced four retail tenants that are coming to the 1400 Woodward block in Detroit,...
  4. Ford Brings 600 Employees to Wagner Place in Downtown West Dearborn, Announces Commercial Tenants
    Ford Motor Co. today announced it has started moving 600 employees into Wagner Place along...
  5. $136M Mixed-use Development Slated for Detroit’s East Riverfront District
    City Growth Partners in Detroit today announced it would construct a $136-million mixed-use...
  6. Delta Offers Two Detroit Metro Flights With New A220-100 Aircraft, Service Launches in 2019
    Delta Air Lines Inc. today announced it will begin offering domestic business routes on the new...