“My grandfather taught us a long time ago that if you assemble a good team, you’re going to have a good project. But, if you have one bad player on that team, it can upset the apple cart,” says Tad Marsh, president of Zumbrun Construction Company, Inc. “We run our business based on that philosophy. So, we try to pull together the very best to make a complete team from the business owner to the architect to the subcontractors.”
Marsh’s grandfather, Gene Zumbrun, started Zumbrun Construction in 1969 on Edwards Street on Fort Wayne’s near southwest side. Marsh and his team still work out of the same building his grandfather did 51 years ago.
Specializing in commercial and industrial construction, Zumbrun has always been a family-owned business.
“My grandfather passed away unexpectedly in 1981 when he was pretty young, so, my uncle, Mike Zumbrun, took over the business. I moved to Fort Wayne and started working for Zumbrun in 1985 after graduating from high school in Atlanta, Georgia. I worked part-time while going to school full-time at what was then IPFW. After finishing college with a business degree, my uncle Mike asked me if I would come into the office and learn the ‘other side’ of the business. I accepted the offer and am glad that I did.”
Marsh and his uncle became business partners and worked together for more than two decades before Mike retired in 2016 and Marsh bought the company from him.
“After I took over, I hired Steve Baumgarte and Taylor Moss to work with us as project managers and estimators. By doing that, it gave me more time to work on the business and future projects,” says Marsh.
Zumbrun employs 20 to 30 people, depending on the season.
“We used to have more employees than that, but we subcontract out a lot of the work today and we serve more as managers of construction,” says Marsh. “But our forces set steel, so we are steel erectors. We set pre-engineered metal buildings and conventional steel buildings. We’re an authorized dealer for Butler Manufacturing Company®. We believe they are the Cadillac of pre-engineered steel buildings. We also do some miscellaneous carpentry and concrete work, but primarily, we provide supervision on every job. We have an onsite supervisor on the bigger projects to run that job in the field. The supervisor works closely with one of the project managers in the office.”
Marsh says about half of the work Zumbrun does is new construction with the other half remodels and upgrades. Its footprint encompasses a roughly 60-mile radius of Fort Wayne, but the company will go out of state if a client requests it.
“We have a longtime relationship with Prairie Farms and we’ve gone up to Michigan to work at one of its plants. We also do all the service work for the Great Clips franchise in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas. And we’ve done a number of projects for Goodwill Industries, Dairy Queen and BND Commercial Real Estate.”
Because some of its clients have what are considered to be essential businesses, Zumbrun has been in full swing throughout the pandemic.
“Things slowed down a little in June and July, but now we’re busy as ever. I was pretty concerned at the beginning of the pandemic because of what we went through during the recession in 2009 and 2010. I am most proud that we weathered that financial crisis. I learned so much and it has made us a better and stronger company. We had record years in 2017, 2018 and 2019, so we were in good shape going into COVID. I’m just blown away by how busy we are right now. People are still wanting to build.”
Marsh credits both his grandfather’s words of wisdom and his team’s efforts to maintain strong relationships with their clients for the company’s ongoing success.
“I’ve learned that in this business, price matters, but it’s much more than that. It’s about whether or not the client trusts you and the relationship you build with them. We want to take care of our clients and treat them special. Our clients want to be treated special and that is why they ask us to come back.”
Eighty to ninety percent of Zumbrun’s business is repeat and referral.
“People trust someone they know more than they would trust an ad, so word-of-mouth has worked well for us over the years. We don’t promise to be the lowest bidder, but we promise to be competitive and to do the job right, on time and even under budget if at all possible.”
Marsh says he and his team are looking forward to some of their new and upcoming projects, which include Mercado, the new Mexican restaurant on The Landing in downtown Fort Wayne, as well as an indoor dog park on the city’s near northwest side.
“The dog park is going to be called ‘Finnegan’s Playground’ and it’s located at 3232 Hillegas Road, across the street from Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control. This place is going to be really special and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
Even though the future may seem shaky right now with the pandemic and political unrest, Marsh remains confident.
“We’ve got the best team we could find, says Marsh. “It’s just like what my grandfather said. If you’ve got the right team, everything else will go smoothly.”
Address: 3110 Edwards St. Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Phone: (260) 432-9432
Years in Business: 51
Number of Employees: 30
Products & Services: Commercial and Industrial Construction, Design/Build of new buildings and expansions, Pre-engineered metal buildings by Butler Manufacturing Company®, Construction Management, Renovations and Steel Erection Services