The Michigan Construction Hall of Fame at Ferris State University inducted three distinguished construction professionals on Thursday, Oct. 28. These inductees, who earn the Distinguished Constructor Award, are Rex Bell, raised in Peru, Indiana; the late Don Leidal, born in Detroit; and Bruce Lowing, raised in Jenison. Collectively, they represent over 130 years of experience in the construction industry.
Below are capsules highlighting the three honorees:
Bell was raised in Peru, Indiana. During high school, he discovered his interest in construction through industrial arts classes that included drafting and residential design. Bell earned a civil engineering degree with a focus on building construction and contracting from Purdue University. He began working for Miller-Davis Company in their Chicago and Indiana-based offices following graduation. His software knowledge enabled him to create a critical path method schedule that brought him to the company’s headquarters, where he focused on project estimating. In 1996 he became the president, a role he holds today.
Miller-Davis Company is a small to mid-sized company that self-performs concrete, carpentry and steelwork. Rex has structured it to compete with larger companies.
Bell believes in giving back to the community, serving on several boards and foundations.
The Miller-Davis Foundation was established under his leadership to focus on education,
the arts, the environment and wholesome recreational activities that include disadvantaged
Leidal was born in Detroit, Michigan. At age 14, he began working for his uncle’s residential masonry company. At 16, he became an apprentice bricklayer and worked for several commercial contractors. At 26, he started a residential masonry business out of his house. The backyard served as the company’s yard for materials, vehicles, and equipment. As the business grew, Leidal took on a partner, creating Leidal & Hart, where his partner ran the office, and Leidal managed the field. Leidal & Hart quickly expanded into the commercial sector, including K-12 and higher education facilities. They also began developing company-owned rental properties.
Leidal’s motto remains, “Masonry laid to last by master craftsmen.” He served as a
trustee for masonry industry funds, including the Bricklayers Apprenticeship School
and the Bricklayers Pension Trust Fund that provides careers, not just jobs, to the
Leidal, who passed away, had his award accepted on his behalf by his son, Brad Leidal, and Brad's mom and Don's wife, Sue.
Lowing was raised in Jenison, Michigan, and developed an interest in construction through the Boy Scout Explorer program. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with a degree in civil engineering. After graduation, he began his career with Hardman Construction as employee number 11.
Lowing accepted whatever roles were required to get the job done - engineer, foreman, surveyor, superintendent, operator, etc. Hardman Construction was focused on heavy civil work with a particular specialty in geotechnical. Lowing became part owner in 1987, and in 1997 became president.
He was active in three heavy civil construction industry associations - Michigan Road
Builders Association (MRBA), the Associated Underground Contractors (AUC), and, once
these two associations merged, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association
(MITA). He is the only individual to have served as the president in all three associations.
Distinguished Constructor Award
The Distinguished Constructor Award formally recognizes the significant achievements made by individuals in the Michigan construction industry. It is not, as with most annual industry awards, a competition based on the best achievements over a single project or year, nor within specific categories. The Distinguished Constructor Award recipient has left a significant mark on the industry and community because of consistent service and achievement. Based on qualitative rather than quantitative means, the Distinguished Constructor Award Panel identifies nominees who have contributed significantly to the industry or community based on the nominee’s involvement as a constructor.
The Distinguished Constructor Award Panel is comprised of representatives from Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, Associated General Contractors of Michigan, Construction Association of Michigan, Home Builders Association of Michigan, Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association and Ferris State University.
For more information about the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame, visit the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame.