Third generation is now part of Canton contracting company; growth has been consistent for business that employs 150 in Stark County.
Rule number one in the construction field is to build on a strong foundation.
That rule also applies to operating a business.
Fred and Virginia Olivieri took that rule to heart when they founded their company 60 years ago. Their son, Dean, leads the company today based on his parents’ strong fundamental philosophies.
The success of Fred Olivieri Construction, which celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2019, boils down to three things: heritage, customers and employees.
The company’s heritage has been built by treating its customers and employees with great respect.
Some good fortune and timing over the years hasn’t hurt, either.
Fred and Virginia met at a high school dance. After graduating in 1948, they continued to date. The couple married in 1953.
Fred served in the Navy during the Korean war, operated the family food market and then worked for his father’s concrete company.
But, in 1959, Fred and Virginia went out on a limb to start Fred Olivieri Construction. The company has come a long way from the early days in the couple’s basement.
Fred Olivieri Construction built one speculative home, and then got into commercial construction work. Thanks to a family connection, the company caught a break and built its first gas station for Standard Oil in Canton.
“That was quite an accomplishment for us,” Virginia said.
And it was quite an important step in the company’s growth.
“We became known as a builder of gas stations,” Fred said. “We built
a lot of them between Canton and Akron. It was a time when there was a gas station on every corner.”
The next big break came in the 1970s. While working on a project in Belden Village, Fred was approached by a gentleman from Continental Restaurant Group, now Darden Restaurants.
After having success building Canton’s Boar’s Head Restaurant, Continental asked Fred if he’d build a restaurant in Falls Church, Va.
“I said, ‘Whatever you want, we’ll build it,’” Fred said.
And that soon became the company’s mantra that remains today.
Fred and his team also began remodeling Continental restaurants at that time. They developed a method to build, deliver and install fixtures in restaurants while they remained open.
That arm of the business is what is now known as MRO Built, just across the street from the construction company.
In 1981, after graduating from Bowling Green University with a degree in construction management, Dean joined the company full time.
He’d worked in the business from an early age, and learned from real-world contractors while at Bowling Green.
“Growing up, my mom and dad both worked in the family business,” Dean said. “So, I developed a strong work ethic very early on.”
Once working for the company full time, Dean didn’t wait to implement that work ethic into his own daily routine.
He served as project manager for the company’s McDonald’s account, and helped to grow that business.
In 2019, the company will celebrate its 200th McDonald’s built from the ground up. The company also has remodeled hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants.
Dean has led the company to further growth and success, particularly in the retail industry.
Fred Olivieri Construction focuses on three business segments — commercial buildings, restaurants and retail stores.
The company is licensed as a contractor in 36 states and works with some of the country’s largest retail and restaurant chains including Disney, Chipotle, Columbus-based L Brands, Panera Bread and REI.
Locally, the company has built projects for Aultman Hospital, Mercy Medical Center, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Stark County District Library, Walsh University, and dozens more.
Olivieri employs about 150 people. Plus, hundreds more across the country are under contract by the company on its construction jobs.
“We’ve been fortunate to have so many good people on our team over the years,” Dean said.
Dean’s wife, Grace, runs the Graco Concrete arm of the business. The third generation is also involved in the company, in Dean and Grace’s daughters, Rachel and Sarah.
Giving back to the community has always been a big part of Fred Olivieri Construction. The company supports the efforts of organizations including American Red Cross, Be a Better Me Foundation, Hanna’s House 119, Junior Achievement, Pegasus Farm, United Way, and more.
Fred Olivieri Construction is well positioned today, with an even mix of seasoned veterans and new young talent. Chances are pretty good this team will see continued success as it builds on the strong foundation started by Fred and Virginia back in 1959.