Lathrop Celebrates 120th Anniversary

January 19, 2016

At the end of this past year, more than 300 of Lathrop’s closest friends—employees, retirees, owners, architects, engineers, and subcontractor partners—gathered to celebrate the company’s 120th anniversary.


Tom Manahan, senior vice president of Turner who also served as Lathrop’s fifth president, acted as master of ceremonies and offered remarks and thanks to the assembled crowd. “It seems like not that long ago we were celebrating our centennial in a tent in the parking lot of the Owens Corning World Headquarters project,” he began, taking the group on a journey through the company’s storied history, beginning at the end of the 19th Century. “When George Lathrop founded the company in 1895, Grover Cleveland was the President and Toledo was the 26th largest city in the United States with a population greater than that of Los Angeles,” he said. “Think of how much has transpired since then.”

Lathrop himself was a clerk in the Toledo post office who began building homes as a second job. He worked his way up to Postmaster in 1920, but left the position four years later to pursue his thriving “side-business” as a contractor full time. Accompanied by his two sons, he built a number of the finest homes in the area, many of which are not only still standing, but still looking, in Tom’s words, “magnificent.” When he died in 1936, Lathrop’s son Walter took over the company, riding the great wave of industrial growth that swept across the Midwest and becoming one of the 100 largest construction companies in the country. In the early 1980s, the family decided to leave the contracting business, and in 1984, sold Lathrop to Turner, securing a place as part of the largest builder in America.

“Despite the tremendous amount of change we’ve seen over time—from family company to national leader, from single family homes to, now starting, a $300 million bed tower for Promedica Toledo Hospital, the largest building project in the history of the city—there have been a number of constants as well,” said Tom. “These are the values instilled by Lathrop’s founding family, and reinforced by Turner: our focus on customer service, a reputation for outstanding quality, unquestioned integrity and ethics, a commitment to the Toledo community, and underpinning all of that, the basic business practice of simply doing the right thing.”

As he passes the mantle of Lathrop’s presidency to Steve Johnson and transitions into the role of chairman, Tom is optimistic about the company’s next chapter. “Lathrop is entering its 121st year with the highest committed backlog in the company’s history. We are adding new staff every month. We’re in a very good place!” he said. “We look forward to celebrating our 125th in 2020.”

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