GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A veteran-owned construction company in the Grand Rapids area has found success by hiring other veterans.

Honor Construction was started around 15 years ago by Brad Laackman. The construction management firm aims to serve the middle market in West Michigan.

“I started it in 2009, which obviously is a great year to start a construction company, or any company really,” he joked. “I felt like I had some experience, and that there was no one filling this gap in this middle-sized projects in West Michigan with the same deliverables.”

Prior to opening Honor Construction, Laackman had served for eight years in the United States Navy. Both his father and grandfather had served in the Navy, though originally that’s not what he wanted to do.

Brad Laackman, the CEO of Honor Construction. (Oct. 31, 2023)
Brad Laackman, the CEO of Honor Construction. (Oct. 31, 2023)

“Talked to all five recruiters — years ago, it seems like, 1995 — asked them who’s got the best deal. And I needed some growing up to do and I kind of realized that,” he said.

While the other recruiters spoke about things like maturity and growth, Laackman said the Navy recruiter told him: “You’ll travel the world and you’ll get very far away from Grand Rapids.”

“I don’t know why, but that sounded like magic to me back in 1995,” Laackman said.

He did end up traveling the world, seeing the Middle East, Australia and multiple countries in Asia. He said he spent time in Japan and learned the language and culture, adding that he misses the food every day. He stopped in Singapore, where there was a Starbucks right next to a 3,000-year-old temple, walked through the gold souk in Saudi Arabia and visited the beaches in Thailand.

“It worked out great,” Laackman said. “I wouldn’t have chosen any other way to do it.”

Laackman was honored to continue the legacy of his family, saying while his dad was surprised initially, he was very proud.

Honor Construction in Grand Rapids. (Oct. 31, 2023)
Honor Construction in Grand Rapids. (Oct. 31, 2023)

Now as the owner of a small business, Laackman hires many veterans.

“Military people, myself included, we take a lot of pride in just being able to finish tasks, take orders and give orders, and really have a professionalism that comes along with the experience as a veteran in the military,” he explained. “That works really well in construction when you’ve got a lot of chaos going on, a lot of decisive times where you need to make good decisions pretty quickly.”

Veterans in the construction realm tend to seek his business out, he said, because they run the business with a military mentality.

“It’s subtle, it’s not strict and overpowering, but it’s just clear thoughts and clear mandates and rules and things like that,” Laackman explained.

Honor Construction has worked on a variety of projects throughout the Lower Peninsula, from office spaces and industrial buildings to small medical facilities and housing.

“Right now, we’re finishing up our Victory on Leonard project: 120 new apartments in Grand Rapids,” Laackman said. “Fulfilling housing within West Michigan is such a high need. We take a little more pride in putting people into new apartments and new beds.”

They also worked on Jaku Sushi on the East Beltline, which Laackman said has “by far the best sushi in town.”

Laackman said the company is proud of its approach to work, from its transparency to having a “SWAT team” approach: a smaller team of highly qualified people.

“When you enter and you work within the company of Honor, it becomes a pride point for everybody, whether you’re a veteran or not, in how we act and what we wear on our chest,” he said. “It’s a way to work that we remember when we look at that, but it’s also a pride in the name and what it means.”