Toledoans won’t see Erik Johnson’s work in the Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge.
The work of his company, Dynamic Contracting, isn’t visible in the Owens Illinois campus in Perrysburg.
And few people know they walk all over Dynamic Contracting’s work at Westfield Franklin Park.
But it’s there, in the concrete.
In those projects, and many others, the rebar was laid by Dynamic Contracting.
”You go down I-75, and we’ve done several projects,” Johnson said of his company, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary and its new status as an entirely African-American owned firm. ”You can point to it and say ‘I did that.’ It’s rewarding.”
Eleven years ago, Johnson said he was inspired to seek a future in construction. At the time, he was on a Hurricane Andrew restoration assignment from then-employer Rudolph/Libbe.
”There was a need down there for someone to represent homeowners as construction managers,” he said.
Fritz Rudolph, the founder of Rudolph/Libbe suggested Johnson come back to Ohio.
”My father took a liking to Erik, and gave him what I would consider the first set of very important business advice, which was, you’re better off starting a business where people know you,” said Bill Rudolph, president of the Rudolph/Libbe Company. ”Erik took that advice and started his business in Toledo.”
Rudolph/Libbe already had contracting obligations in the area, some of which were reserved for minority contractors.
”It sounded like a match made in heaven,” Johnson said.
Johnson, Rudolph/Libbe retiree Eddie Dixon and another partner began Dynamic Contracting, owning 51 percent of the firm; Rudolph/Libbe owned the other 49 percent.
”When we first started out, we were general contractors,” Johnson said. ”A couple of years into it, we found out general contracting was highly competitive.”
He said the first few years were rough, and the program that set aside opportunities specifically for minority contractors was defunct.
He had been laying rebar, as well as concrete, and did construction management with select clients. But he found a niche for a company that specializes in rebar in 1997.
”As long as there’s concrete, there’s always going to be rebar,” he said. ”We started with maybe two or three people and a handful of jobs.”
He said in the last five years, Dynamic Contracting has taken between 40 and 50 projects each year, and employs between 25 and 40 ironworkers for jobs throughout Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, including Ford Field in Detroit and the Chrysler World Engine Plant in Dundee, Mich.
”Erik has worked hard, he’s dedicated himself to the business,” Rudolph said. ”You have lots of obstacles to success. Erik, through his efforts, and the efforts of others on his team, had been able to maneuver through those obstacles.”
While Dynamic Contracting grew, Johnson bought out partners and more of the firm. This year, Dixon and Johnson purchased the final 190 shares owned by Rudolph/Libbe.
”At the end of the day, it’s Erik pulling the wagon,” Rudolph said. ”I am proud of Erik.”
Johnson is a 1988 graduate of BGSU, where he studied construction management and played linebacker during the Falcons’ 1985 championship season. He and his wife, Sonya Johnson, have two children, Erik Jr., 11, and Caleb, 7.