Building Relationships

Brasfield & Gorrie celebrates its 50th anniversary with a rededication to one overriding principle: What matters even more than the buildings themselves are the people building them and the people inside them.

By Joe O’Donnell


As the son of the founder of Brasfield & Gorrie, Jim Gorrie started young, working in virtually every aspect of his father’s growing construction firm. “It is all I have ever done, all I’ve ever known,” Gorrie says. “I started working here when I was 14. I worked here every chance I could through school and then began here full-time when I graduated from Auburn in 1984.” Over the past 35 years, he has held many roles in the company. Today, he is the CEO.

Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the largest privately held construction firms in the nation. The successor firm to the Thomas C. Brasfield Company, a general contractor operating as a sole proprietorship from 1921, the company was founded when Miller Gorrie purchased the company’s construction assets in 1964; in 1967, he changed the name to Brasfield & Gorrie.

Over the years, the company shifted its emphasis to larger commercial, institutional, healthcare, and industrial projects, and in 1984, Brasfield & Gorrie opened full-service offices in Atlanta and Orlando. Today, they serve clients from those offices as well as ones in Columbus, Georgia; Birmingham, Alabama; Dallas; Jacksonville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Raleigh, North Carolina. From annual revenue of less than $1 million when Miller Gorrie purchased the company, Brasfield & Gorrie’s revenue now exceeds $2 billion a year.

Builder of the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium, Brasfield & Gorrie has completed signature projects in categories from healthcare to education to office buildings and multi-family housing in cities across the Southeast and the nation. “My father’s philosophy from the very beginning was obsession about top-notch talent,” Gorrie says. “He believes you should never compromise with getting the very best people to work for your company, and that is always the way we have operated.” Exploring growth and hiring great people have been the keys to the decades of success that Brasfield & Gorrie has enjoyed, Gorrie explains. “What makes [us] even more unique is that we have grown organically without acquisition,” he says. “We are building an infrastructure for the next growth cycle. I am more positive now than ever before at the depth of our leadership talent.”

The company is celebrating its growth and its 50th anniversary this month. Employees from across the country are coming into Birmingham to celebrate at an event that will be held at the BJCC at the end of June. “This is a significant milestone for us. My father started the business and is still active, which is pretty amazing,” Gorrie says. “It is a celebration of what he and the other founders built. He is the only founder still active, but the early founders get together to give annual awards to our people who best represent our values.” Those values revolve around trust, commitment, teamwork, and integrity. “Size and reputation matter. People want to do business with someone they know. Our company has a history of building trust and delivering on commitments. Our growth opportunities lie with companies that share our values irrespective of market sector. In the last few years, we have grown in multi-family, which was never a major area for us, but we have partnered with people who want to build high quality properties.

“We have a pretty significant portfolio of blue chip client companies. Our growth is first built around servicing them. For example, we have been working with St. Vincent’s and UAB for 40 years,” he says. “But our business is also taking us to new parts of the [country] like Montana, Arizona, and California, and that is opening up exciting opportunities for us.”

The current snapshot of the construction realm is a bit of a mixed bag, according to Gorrie. “The industry is getting better, but it is not across the board. Some markets are stronger than others. Still, the quality and quantity of opportunities have improved,” he says. “Construction always lags the general economy. We were the last to feel recession and the benefits of the recovery. But we are doing better and are very optimistic about the future.”


Half a Century of Key Projects

Bryant Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, 2010

The Bryant Denny expansion project on the stadium’s south end zone raised capacity to more than 101,000 seats, and it was completed in time for the 2010 football season.

I-59/20 Emergency Bridge Replacement, 2004

A tanker truck collided with the underside of the eastbound bridge at the intersection of I-65 and I-59/20, resulting in extensive fire damage that required complete replacement of the bridge.  Brasfield & Gorrie and The Morris Group completed the project in only 36 days.

AmSouth Administrative Headquarters, Birmingham, Alabama, 1995

Construction of this 460,000-square-foot office structure included a training center and parking deck on a 90-acre site.

Atlanta Braves Ballpark Joint Venture, Atlanta, Georgia, 2014

American Builders 2017, a joint venture between Brasfield & Gorrie, Mortenson Construction, Barton Malow Company, and New South Construction, was recently named as the construction manager at risk (construction manager) to oversee the construction of the new Atlanta Braves ballpark, which is scheduled to open in early 2017.

Birmingham Green, Birmingham, Alabama, 1972

This early project provided important experience for many of the foremen and laborers who would later assume leadership roles in the field.

Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia, 1991

As a subcontractor, Brasfield & Gorrie performed construction of the primary structural frame for the Dome. The project required 46,000 cubic yards of concrete and 6,300 tons of reinforcing steel.

Orlando City Hall, Orlando, Florida, 1991

The Orlando City Hall project included 5,000 cubic yards of concrete brought in by 100 concrete trucks in an 11-hour nighttime pour. Brasfield & Gorrie was also responsible for demolition of the old building, which was filmed live as part of a scene in Lethal Weapon 2 with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover running from the building as it imploded behind them.

Kirklin Clinic, Birmingham, Alabama, 1992

This 425,000-square-foot patient care facility on the UAB campus was the first medical facility designed by world-renowned architect I. M. Pei.

Batman Building Corporate Headquarters, Nashville, Tennessee, 1994 

With 30 stories and 644,000 square feet, Tennessee’s tallest building (affectionately called “the Batman building”) occupies a full 2.8-acre city block and provides office space for more than 2,200 employees. om BOMA International.

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia, 2005

This multiple award-winning, three-story, 440,000-square-foot facility contains more than 8 million gallons of fresh and salt water and more than 100,000 cubic yards of structural concrete.

M. Miller Gorrie Center, Auburn University, Alabama, 2006

The first LEED®-accredited building on Auburn University’s campus, this 35,000-square-foot building science education facility was named the “M. Miller Gorrie Center,” and the majority of the construction funds were donated by companies within the industry as well as individuals.

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