The respective parties of an apparent breakup between longtime construction partners Wayne Morelock and Kenny Ross remain tightlipped.
The duo partnered in 1982 to form Springfield-based Morelock-Ross Builders Inc., currently ranked by Springfield Business Journal as the fourth-largest local commercial contractor based on self-reported client billings of nearly $37 million in 2016.
Calls to the 722 W. Olive St. general contractor – whose recent projects include Springfield Plaza and the Bear Village student housing complex – revealed that Ross is no longer with the company. Inquiries are now being directed to Morelock, who declined to comment on the departure.
Missouri secretary of state records do not yet indicate a company name change. Ross could not be reached at his Springfield home to discuss future plans.
Two sons of Ross – Andy and David Ross, also longtime employees at Morelock-Ross Builders – also have split to form their own partnership, Ross Construction Group LLC. The brotherly partnership has since taken with them nearly $8.5 million worth of projects previously slated for their former employer.
Andy Ross said Ross Construction officially opened Oct. 16 at 2950 E. Battlefield Road, now with a staff of 10 and undisclosed revenue projections for its first year. He declined to comment on whether Kenny Ross plans to join his sons and why the longtime partners split.
As for the new business, “We’re doing commercial construction,” said Andy Ross, a Morelock-Ross employee for about nine years who said David Ross had been with the company for 14 years.
“Design-build is our forte, focused solely on commercial construction,” he said, later adding: “It was just time for David and I to go our own way.”
Joining them was Robin Newhart, a Morelock-Ross project manager and information technology administrator, according to SBJ reporting. Andy Ross declined to comment on whether other staff members have followed to Ross Construction.
According to their LinkedIn profiles, Ross Construction employees include Project Manager Steve Guilliams, Project Superintendent Clay Tucker and Office Manager Debra Perry. Each lists Morelock-Ross as their previous employer, and in some cases, also their present employer.
According to Morelock-Ross.com, the general contractor has completed more than 350 commercial and residential projects in the last 35 years. Those projects include buildings for nearly a dozen area banking companies, as well as warehouses for American Tire Distributors Inc., Stamina Products Inc. and Pella Windows and Doors. Residential work encompasses Brewery District Flats and East Cherry Flats.
For the new firm, Andy Ross only addressed what he indicated was Ross Construction’s largest project to date, a roughly $4.8 million, 56,000-square-foot warehouse addition for Ozarks Food Harvest Inc. He declined to comment on any other past dealings with Morelock-Ross.
At least two Ross Construction projects currently underway had been slated originally for Morelock-Ross to complete.
In Nixa, Aldersgate United Methodist Church Lead Pastor Dennis Miller said a nearly $4 million, two-story addition for the church had been set for Morelock-Ross.
Miller said he had been working with the Ross brothers under a “mutual agreement” with the company. After the brothers broke off and started anew in the fall, he said Ross Construction Group successfully outbid their former employer and three other general contractors to win the job.
“We just felt that’s who had given us the bid that we wanted to go with,” Miller said, noting an added plus came via keeping the Ross brothers aboard from the get-go. “Knowing that (Andy and David) were going to be with this newly formed corporation was part of our process.”
Ross Construction also nabbed the Ozarks Food Harvest job from Morelock-Ross.
John Megee, architect on the project with Marshall-Waters-Woody and Associates Inc., said Morelock-Ross originally acted as general contractor for the work. Ross Construction has since taken over, Megee said.
OFH President and CEO Bart Brown said the switch resulted from a commitment to past work with the Rosses, who, working under Morelock-Ross, built its O’Reilly Center for Hunger Relief headquarters. The nonprofit unveiled the center in 2009.
“It just made sense to go back to the same contractors and subcontractors when it came time for our addition, a continuation of that relationship,” Brown said, declining to comment further.
For more than a decade, Megee said he has worked almost exclusively with the Rosses at Morelock-Ross on various projects. He said Wayne Morelock specializes in residential work, with the Rosses having focused on the commercial side of business.
To Megee, the formation of Ross Construction Group and the people who now work there amount only to a company name change.
“It’s just a continuation of standard operating procedure that we’ve always had,” Megee said. “The transition has been seamless.”
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