Key to Power’s growth and stability over the years has been a strategic commitment to do business with people who value integrity, innovation, quality and long-term relationships. Looking back, it was this vision that provided the foundation on which to build an organization that today has so many repeat clients.
The History of Power
Power was founded in the midst of the roaring 20s by Mr. Jerome Goldstein, a graduate of the prestigious Armour Institute of Technology (the forerunner to today's Illinois Institute of Technology.) Known at that time as Power Engineering Company, the firm focused on designing and building electric power plants in rural areas, thus the name.
At the time of the company's founding in the mid-20s, 90% of all farms in the United States had no electricity. This situation was the opportunity that the young engineer Goldstein sought to leverage. Unfortunately, at about the same time, the Federal government established a new agency, the Rural Electrification Administration, in order to distribute electric power to small towns and farmers. By the late 1920s, the company shifted its focus away from power plants towards general building construction. The name Power Engineering Company was modified to better reflect the company's new focus: Power Construction Company.
Throughout the 30s, Power built quality single-family residences in Chicago's North Shore communities. Later, as World War II began to influence the construction market, Power built a variety of commercial buildings. These included manufacturing facilities in Chicago and Northwest Indiana as well as hotels.
During the 50s and early 60s, Power again expanded its capabilities by building a number of public and private K-12 schools including Quigley Preparatory Seminary, Latin School of Chicago, Proviso West High School, and New Trier West High School. This trend of expanding its capabilities on a decade-by-decade basis continued under the direction of Al Gorman, Jerome Goldstein's son-in-law, who joined the company in 1962.
By 1966, under Al Gorman's leadership, Power had emerged as one of Chicago's dominant builders of educational facilities. Notable clients included the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Illinois Institute of Technology. At about the same time, Power began to move into hospital construction. First with small renovation and expansion projects, later with complete new-build projects.
By the late 70s, Power became the leading hospital builder in the Chicago market with projects at more than two dozen institutions. Major projects included MacNeal Memorial Hospital, four hospitals for Evangelical Health Systems (now Advocate Health System), Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Highland Park Hospital, Evanston Hospital, and Loyola University Medical Center.
This period also brought an opportunity to expand Power's presence with local Fortune 500 companies, with major hotel operators, and in Chicago's downtown market. Corporate clients included United Airlines, Motorola, Honeywell, Allstate, and Hewitt. In 1984, the 500-room Westin O'Hare Hotel was the first major, full-service hotel built by Power. The company went on to complete 19 full-service hotels in Chicago for such names as Marriott, Hyatt, Sofitel, Stouffer, and Guest Quarters, thus making Power the leading builder of full-service hotels in Chicago for more than 15 years. In fact, it was the hotel building boom of the late 80s that enabled Power to establish its reputation as a major builder in the downtown market.
In 1991, Al Gorman moved to the Chairman's position and named Tom Settles as President. Tom's career with Power began as a carpenter in 1972 and steadily grew as he expanded his knowledge of the business by working in both field and office roles. Tom was the first non-family member to lead the business. The success of this decision led to a new operating model, sharing ownership between the Gorman family and key management.
Power further strengthened its top management team in 2001 by promoting Jeff Karp to the role of President and elevating Tom Settles to the role of Vice Chairman. As a long-time Power employee who also rose through the organization, Jeff brought passion, operational excellence, and continued commitment to the company. Recognizing the value of developing a strong leadership team, Jeff helped create a deferred compensation plan, thereby sharing company profits with more executives and managers.
Under Jeff Karp's leadership the company persevered through one of the nation's toughest recessions, without laying off a single employee. The company also completed two of its largest contracts in the firm's history, in joint venture, for Lurie Children's Hospital and Rush University Medical Center. Together with other large healthcare contracts, these projects helped Power to be ranked as one of the nation's largest healthcare contractors.
Jeff promoted Terry Graber to President in 2013. A 20-year veteran of Power at the time, Terry has served as a project manager, project executive, vice president, and COO.
Today, Power is building the new Ability Institute for RIC, a new patient tower at Loyola University Medical Center, the Kellogg School of Management on the campus of Northwestern University, phase II of the Homeland Security Education Center at College of DuPage, as well as numerous other renovation, buildout, and new construction projects.