In 2016, Greg Bobzien will retire from Granger Construction after nearly 47 years. This is part one of a two-part retrospective.
According to a popular water-cooler legend, in 1970 Greg Bobzien applied for two jobs in the Lansing area: One at a local grocery store and one with Granger Construction Company. As fate would have it, Granger just happened to be the first one to offer him employment and he’s been on staff ever since. Perhaps if the stars had aligned a bit differently, Bobzien may have spent four-plus decades in the grocery industry instead of construction. Right?
“Not true,” laughed Bobzien during a recent discussion when told about the popular anecdote of his career beginning. “I’m not sure where that story came from.”
Legend aside, Bobzien did, in fact, begin working for Granger in 1970. He will retire as Granger’s General Superintendent and Corporate Safety Director this month after nearly 47 years with the company. Other than Chairman Al Granger, Bobzien is the longest-tenured Granger employee.
During his time with Granger, Bobzien has witnessed, contributed to and played a significant role in monumental changes to the construction industry – everything from increased safety initiatives to new construction delivery methods.
“Every aspect of the industry has completely changed,” said Bobzien.
He has also experienced firsthand the growth of Granger Construction – from a $4 million company in 1970 to a $240 million company today – as well as the foundation of additional companies that carry the family name like Granger Container.
“I was blessed to be able to work for them,” Bobzien said. “Granger is such a great company. I worked with great people and was mentored by some of the very best in the industry.”
Contrary to popular belief, working at Granger was not Bobzien’s first job after high school. That “honor” goes to Aeroquip Corp. where Bobzien parlayed his high school co-op at the Jackson machine shop into a full-time opportunity after graduation. Bobzien worked six days and 58 hours a week while earning $2.65 per hour.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, work at a machine shop was hard, brutal labor. The facilities were loud and there was no ear protection for employees. Workers would often leave at the end of the day with a thin layer of greasy film on their skin from the manufacturing process.
“I hated it,” said Bobzien. “It was two blocks away from my house and I was late every day.”
After Aeroquip, Bobzien worked for a short time for Fast Deck, including contributing for about a month on a Granger Construction project – the Michigan Bell Telephone Building. It was after this project concluded in the spring of 1970 that Bobzien asked Granger’s labor foreman if they needed any help. The timing proved right. He was subsequently hired as a laborer for Granger, primarily working on concrete and masonry projects.
“They were known as a great company and it was an awesome opportunity to work with such great people,” said Bobzien.
Located on Cedar Street in Lansing at the time, Granger was considerably smaller but still had the same work ethic and adherence to The Golden Rule that it does today.
“I went from being late every day to being early every day,” said Bobzien.
The state of things in 1970
- President: Richard Nixon
- Average cost of gallon of gas: $0.36
- Average cost of new home: $23,450
- Average cost of new car: $3,450
- Cost of first-class stamp: $0.06
- Monday Night Football debuts on ABC
- Academy Award, Best Picture: Midnight Cowboy
- Super Bowl: Kansas City defeated Minnesota
- World Series: Baltimore defeated Cincinnati
- Notable Granger project in 1970: Michigan Bell Telephone Building