Classic Construction marking milestone anniversary
By JEAN TARBETT HARDIMAN
HUNTINGTON — When Gary Ward founded Classic Construction 30 years ago, times were tough for small businesses in Huntington. The economy was declining. Banks weren’t quick to loan.
But he knew he had a niche.
He had been working construction for a larger company and decided to try some jobs on his own — specializing in fire and water restoration, with full-service general contracting offered as well.
In the early years, he put in 15-hour days, sevens days a week. His wife, Jina, worked a day job, came home and helped type up estimates in the evenings. The “office” was his dining room table.
He started with himself, his father, painter Bill Ward, and three employees. Today, Classic Construction has about 40 employees and is a major player in the construction business, working on projects from Beckley to Ironton and Charleston to Ashland. The full-service general contracting business owns what totals about a city block-and-a-half of property at the 1400 block of 8th Ave.
“There was a growing need for contractors to do dirty jobs, like fire restoration, and I had experience with that,” Ward said. “Our business continues to grow and thrive. Every year, we add the newest of equipment and training. I take great pride in the community, being from Huntington, and I take great pride in what I’ve been able to accomplish. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish it without the quality, trusting, experienced professionals at my side.”
Some of them have been with him 25 years or more, he said, pointing out that his “right-hand man” has been Richard Sturgill.
He’s also proud that it’s a family business. Jina Ward is vice president. His eldest son, Chase, came on board two-and-a-half years ago after getting a business management degree from Coastal Carolina University and is taking the company to new levels, Gary Ward said. His youngest son, Beckett Ward, also has come on board after graduating from Marshall University and is learning the business as well.
Chase Ward has been concentrating on upgrading technology and growing the business.
“I’d like to see us double in size, and we’re well on our way,” Chase Ward said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve been added to 14 preferred vendor programs (among insurance companies). …We’ve added seven or eight vehicles to our fleet.”
The company also bought a 13,000-square-foot facility for storage and it’s looking to grow in the Ashland market and add a second location there. Classic Construction also has expanded its certifications, now having Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). It also has the distinction of being one of two companies in the state that are GAF Master Elite Roofers.
Chase Ward said he’s proud to have a role in the business that his father started 30 years ago, a business that has had the honor of working on some noteworthy projects. It flood-proofed a number of homes in Williamson as part of a federally funded flood recovery program. It raised homes up off their foundations and put steel beams under them, he said. Classic Construction also was the main contractor that handled the Emmons apartment buildings after they were damaged in a fatal 2007 fire and was the general contractor over the demolition.
It’s an exciting time for the company, with his sons on the team and as Huntington claws is way back to a vibrant economy, Gary Ward said.
“I’m a big believer in Marshall University and both hospitals,” he said. “As Huntington continues to prosper, I think it benefits my company as well as the entire Tri-State.”
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