Since 1945, Wehr Constructors has been building the Louisville area – from the Humana building to countless healthcare facilities such as the Frazier Rehabilitation & Neuroscience Center and Jewish Hospital Medical Center East.
Wehr has quietly been expanding, not only its sectors and its boundaries; it also created a new corporate core values and mission statement to take the company into a new era. The second-generation of the Berry family, which has owned and operated the company since the mid 1960s, is transitioning into retirement and the third generation is preparing to take over.
In other words, a new version of Wehr Constructors is unfolding. In recent years, the company has expanded the Florida office into different markets as well and taken on projects as diverse as education, religion, non-profit, corporate and more. Even historical restoration and distilling – including projects for Woodford Reserve and Shaker Village – have entered the picture, perhaps most notably at the moment the West End YMCA, a $28 million project now under way at 17th & Broadway.
But it’s healthcare that Wehr remains most known for – a go-to of sorts, says Wehr Vice President Brandon Berry, who runs the company’s Central Kentucky office.
“The healthcare market has been a stronghold for us,” Berry says. “Healthcare codes and regulations are always changing and requiring infrastructure upgrades in facilities—for contractors that understand the risk of healthcare construction, it’s a market that can often be a staple to help ride the waves of the peaks and valleys of the economy.”
But Wehr’s growth has been a point of importance, and not just in terms of geography.
“We’re looking to grow into new markets,” says Dale “D.J. Berry Jr., a senior project manager for Wehr. “We have in the last 10 years or so really branched out. Our goal as a company is to not only branch out into new markets but also new sectors.
The faith-based company includes religious projects in that growth, but new ground is also being broken in higher education, with recent projects at the University of Kentucky. Wehr has a keen interest in winning further projects in the spirits industry as well.
“We realize (distillery construction) is a booming market in which we can offer construction management services for a very competitive price,” D.J. says. “Because of our technical background with hospitals and healthcare, we feel there is lot of detail Wehr can bring to those clients from our knowledge and experience of the intricacies of a high-detail construction.”
The overarching goal is to prepare Wehr Constructors for the future as new leadership emerges – and to provide further services in added industries as the company expands further across the state of Kentucky and into neighboring markets such as West Virginia, Tennessee, as well as continued Florida expansion into Orlando, Sarasota and other parts of the state.
One focus that remains the same is the client-focused service Wehr always aims to provide. Relationships lead to long-standing partnerships in any industry.
“Our current ownership team has built countless relationships in the markets we currently occupy,” D. J. says. “A lot of the next-generation group is starting to develop its own set of relationships with new contacts in the industry. We’re looking to build off their legacy and keep the ball rolling.”
The new direction, by way of the updated core values and mission statement, aim to address the balance of maintaining that long and trusted legacy, while also transitioning to a new era and new markets.
“We’re doing what we can to diversify and broaden our services,” Brandon says. “We started with our mission statement and core values then led into, ‘Who are our top targets? Where do we want to focus our marketing efforts?’
“It’s worked great, but we thought it would also be beneficial to also diversify or branch out a little bit. We want to be more than just a healthcare company – we know that we are (more than a healthcare contractor), but the market doesn’t know that we are yet. It’s our job to spread the word.”