The DeMaria Difference
Beginning with Family
Brothers Joseph A. DeMaria, Sr. and Richard DeMaria learned their trade in construction working alongside their father, an Italian immigrant who was skilled in carpentry and concrete work. He built retail stores and apartment buildings in his spare time, and inspired his sons to pursue careers in construction management.
Joe and Rick incorporated the DeMaria Building Company on February 18, 1969, in Detroit, Michigan. They began with concrete work—sidewalks, basements—and soon moved into residential projects, including garages, additions, and modernizations—all in the metropolitan Detroit area. Always open to new opportunities, DeMaria took on its first job for the automotive sector in 1970 when it converted the coal-fired boilers to oil-fired at General Motors’ Chevy Spring and Bumper Plant in Livonia, Michigan.
A Quick Audio History
DeMaria built its first gas station, for ARCO, in 1973. We soon had contracts from Shell, Sunoco, Mobile, and others as oil companies competed for traffic by putting a station on every corner in the Motor City. The gas station construction market dissolved in 1979 as a result of the oil crisis. By this time we had developed successful relationships with all three major Detroit automakers—General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler—and work from the Big Three became the company’s bread and butter for many years.
DeMaria also worked in the healthcare and education sectors during the 1970s, and these markets became increasingly significant portions of our business. For example, we bid on a project to build three cardiac intensive care units for the People’s Community Hospital Authority in 1978, hoping to get one, and were pleased and surprised to be awarded all three units, making the project one of DeMaria’s largest at that time. In 1975, we moved to a larger office in Detroit to accommodate the expanding business.
Beyond the Ordinary
DeMaria’s reputation, confidence, and expertise were growing exponentially. We took on cutting-edge construction work as business grew, including state-of-the-art electronic locks and surveillance for 1987’s Macomb County Jail addition. In the 1980s, DeMaria also built the Kellogg Eye Center and the Medical Sciences building, both in Ann Arbor; the Wayne State Student Faculty Housing building in Detroit; and the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac. We added a regional office in Novi in 1982.
DeMaria welcomed the next generation into our ranks in the 1980s. Joe’s son, Joe Jr., started in 1983 as a project engineer and is currently President of DeMaria. In 1995 Rick’s son, Anthony, followed his father into the family business, first employed at DeMaria as a laborer and eventually working his way up to Executive Vice President.
Bigger, Taller, Faster
In 1991, DeMaria constructed a 231-foot air traffic control tower at Detroit Metropolitan Airport for the Federal Aviation Administration. It was the tallest control tower in the region at that time. One of our biggest contracts in the 90’s was Dakota High School in Macomb, Michigan. It was 398,000 square feet and cost $42 million – significantly less per square foot than comparable high school constructions in the region – and earned DeMaria public accolade in local newspapers.
DeMaria began its long-running relationship with the US Department of Veterans Affairs in 1994 with a multi-contract project at their Ann Arbor location. Following the successful completion of the Ann Arbor VA’s new construction and occupied renovation, we have been favored by the VA for other work around Michigan and, as of 2004, around the country.
Leader in the New Millennium
DeMaria has been utilizing elements of sustainable design and energy conservation in our work since 1976, but green initiatives became paramount in the construction industry in the twenty-first century. We joined the US Green Building Council and have completed several LEED-certified or LEED-registered projects. In 2007, DeMaria built a biodiesel manufacturing plant and test lab in Adrian, Michigan; in 2011, we built a $16 million community-based anaerobic digester facility in Fremont, Michigan.
For 17 years in a row, DeMaria has been named one of Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. More than 170 employees work for DeMaria in the field and in the office, and employee retention is high, with 32% celebrating 15 years or more with the company. Still a family-run business, DeMaria does not use top-down management. Instead, employees at all levels are involved in the decisions and direction of the company, and they are rewarded for their ideas. Every year on February 18, we celebrate our founding with a themed company party.
More than 50 years after its founding, DeMaria is a leader in building unique and cutting-edge projects, and doing so on time and on budget. In 2019, DeMaria was ranked #15 on the Largest General Contractors list for Crain’s Detroit Business. The success of our company is owed to the strong relationships we have developed and maintained with our clients, architects, and partners. We are proud that 84% of our clients are repeat customers, proving that DeMaria is helping clients realize their vision.