2019 marks a large milestone for Serenus Johnson Construction
– a Design/Build, family-owned construction company currently headquartered off of Kasemeyer road in Bay City.
Founded in 1919 by Serenus Johnson, a Finnish immigrant to the Great Lakes Bay Region who followed his family to the area and worked as a riveter in the local shipyards building boats for WWI, the company was primarily focused on general contracting construction work. The company was able to survive the Great Depression and the material and labor shortages of World War II by expanding its construction services across the Great Lakes Bay Region. During this time the company also made the transition from solely single-family home residential construction to building churches, schools, and other prominent community buildings.
Serenus Johnson standing in front of his snow removal truck.
From Serenus Johnson Construction’s inception, the company has been a family business. The Johnson family owned and managed the business for three generations with Serenus Johnson, Raymond E. Johnson, and Thomas A. Johnson all serving in various leadership roles within the company from 1919 until 2018. Now, the family business has transitioned to new ownership under long-time employee and family friend - Bill Woolwine Jr.- who has served as Serenus Johnson Construction’s President and CEO since 2014.
Bill Woolwine Jr. has been with Serenus Johnson Construction for over 31 years. He started as a journeyman carpenter and successfully worked his way from foreman to company leadership. Throughout his time with the company, he has developed an extremely close relationship with the Johnson Family - including Thomas A. Johnson.
“Our relationship [Bill and Thomas] goes beyond boss and employee - we’re friends. Tom is a very honest, high integrity person within the community," says Woolwine. "He always treats people very fairly and morally. When working together, about ninety percent of the time, we were on the same page in terms of decision making. We had a shared vision for the company.”
With this shared vision in mind, Bill Woolwine Jr. and his family intend to continue to build upon the Johnson family’s legacy through Serenus Johnson Construction.
“Serenus Johnson Construction is still a family operated business - just a different family,” said Bill. There are several Woolwine family members currently working at Serenus Johnson Construction.
“My sons have worked for the company since they graduated. My brother has also worked for the company for 27 years. My cousin works at the company.” Bill added, “Having my family as part of the business made my decision to become an owner much easier. I wasn't taking on ownership of the company, I was doing it to extend the heritage of the company and the desire for the company to go on to the next generation. The goal is to leave the company better than when I received it. My goal is to build it and leave it better for the next generation. That has happened from Serenus to Raymond to Tom - and I want that step to keep going.”
The company is constructing a new linear accelerator building for McLaren Bay Region in Bay City.
When asked about the vision for Serenus Johnson Construction’s future, Bill stated that the goal is to continue to build upon the company’s legacy established by the Johnson family.
“Our desire is to uphold the integrity, professionalism, and quality of work that this company has done for a century. We will always have to grow and be thinking outside of the box on ways to be more efficient. We will also have to keep current with what's out there in terms of technology and equipment.”
Bill also credited the company’s success and great reputation to the 35 member team at Serenus Johnson Construction.
“Everyone in the office - from our estimators, to our project managers, to our office managers, assistant project managers, marketing - makes the company successful. Our team as a management group has spent many years planning and executing projects day-in and day-out. I am extremely pleased with the team that we have and the work that they accomplish.”
For more information regarding Serenus Johnson Construction and their 100th year celebration, please visit the company’s website at https://serenusjohnson.com/.