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Construction firm Mowery sold to first non-family owner

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Don Mowery, left, has sold R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc. to David Cross, right.
Don Mowery, left, has sold R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc. to David Cross, right. - (Photo / )

After more than 90 years, a Cumberland County construction company has named its first owner from outside the family circle.

Silver Spring Township-based R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc., which does business as Mowery, announced today that David Cross is the company's new owner. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cross, of York, bought the company from Don Mowery, who has run the family business for 33 years. Mowery will remain with the company in a consulting, client relations and business development role.

Cross, who has worked in the construction and real estate business for nearly 30 years, joined the company as president in 2015 as part of a leadership succession plan.

"Things have worked out well," Mowery said. "When we got together, I was confident Dave could be a good leader and he was well qualified to be president."

The two men discussed ownership early on, he said, but decided it was best to hold off until they saw how things worked out. 

Given the steady growth of the company and initiatives undertaken by Cross, Mowery felt now was the right time to sell.  

In less than two years, the company has expanded its workforce by about 15 percent, improved processes and invested technology, including a cloud-based project management system and mobile devices. Mowery also has spent money to rebrand the company and boost its web presence.

"The stage is already set," Cross said. "Today's announcement is the next step in a continuous evolution of Mowery to position for the future."

The company finished last year with $146.3 million in revenue, up from $137.6 million in 2015. Mowery's biggest markets are warehouses, distribution centers, automotive dealerships, senior living communities and higher education.

The company also has branched into small adaptive reuse projects, typically renovations under $500,000. It is a fairly new area for the company, but one that is already paying dividends in cities like Harrisburg and York.

Last fall, the company hired midstate developer Derek Dilks to head up the division overseeing those projects.

In a little more than nine months, that group did close to $3 million in revenue, Cross said. "We're looking to do more infill work."

Changes

With the ownership transition, Cross said he plans to remain president. He will assume the chairman's role with the formation of a new company board.

Mowery, who started working for the company as a field laborer as a teenager and became vice president by age 22, said he plans to continue building on existing company relationships and providing leadership counsel to Cross. The majority of current company projects are for repeat clients.

"I also look forward to developing some new relationships," Mowery said.

The former owner was a driving force behind the company's transition to negotiated design-build contracting. When he first started, it was mostly a competitive bid market and Mowery was doing mostly public-sector projects.

In those days, most general contractors did a lot of the work themselves, whereas today they often hire subcontractors who specialize in certain areas of a building project. 

Technology in the field also has improved accuracy, and it has helped the company finish projects more quickly, Mowery said.

Mowery was founded in 1925.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at jscott@cpbj.com. Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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