On November 2, 1967 a 30-year-old carpenter named Dee Livingood sold his blue Volkswagen for $1,000 and risked everything he had to start his own business.
HIS NICKNAME “BIG DEE” INSPIRED THE NAME FOR BIG-D CONSTRUCTION.
THE BIG IDEA: BUILD A COMPANY BASED ON RESPECT.
Dee started with almost nothing – no business experience, no customers and almost no money. All Dee had was a BIG IDEA about the way things ought to be done. He wanted a company based on equal respect for customers and employees. A company based on integrity. A company where there is no difference between what is said and what is done.
A PASSION FOR PEOPLE… RAZOR-SHARP PEOPLE.
Dee assembled a team of the best people in the industry, and called his founding leaders his “young lions.” They refused to focus on money. Instead they quietly focused on doing the right things – the business principles Dee felt would be crucial to success. And, lo and behold, success naturally followed.
THE VISION CONTINUES, WHICH EXPLAINS WHY OUR CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS DO, AS WELL.
Today, Big Dee’s founding culture continues to inspire us. We aren’t perfect, but we strive to do the right things. We now have “lions” of every age on our impressive team, and a lion’s share of repeat customers.
The name “Big-D Construction” didn’t come after hours of meetings with Dee’s young lions. In fact, it came while Dee and Jack Hilton were standing in line to get a contractor’s license. Jack had closed his business and was helping Dee with his new business endeavor. It was while they were filling out paperwork when the name “Big D” was founded:
“Then I had to go to Salt Lake to the Department of Business Regulations and get him a contractor’s license, unemployment compensation, industrial accidents and all the other red tape that goes with getting a guy in business. They filled out all the papers and everything and he looked at me and says ‘what’s the name of the company’? I batted my eyes and looked up in the air and I said ‘Big D’.”
– Jack Hilton
In a matter of seconds, the name “Big D” was founded. For many years, the name would be written as either Big D or Big “D”. In the early 90s, the hyphen was added to create “Big-D”.
Big-D constructs the Amcor Block Plant and Pipe Plant. This project marked one of Big-D’s first large manufacturing projects.
First year with $1 million in annual sales.
In the early years of Big-D Construction, all deals were generally settled with a handshake. In 1974 Dee Livingood had struck a million-dollar deal with Cream O’Weber. The company brought Dee in and asked him to design and build an addition to their freezer in Ogden. They worked up a price and shook hands on it.
Once the deal and the million-dollar price tag sunk in, Dee suggested that maybe they write something down on paper. A Purchasing Order book was pulled out and the million-dollar job was handwritten to Big-D Construction. And that was Dee’s contract for his first million-dollar project.
Rob Moore and Dale Satterthwaite join Dee as Big-D’s first Business Development Manager and Estimator respectively. Dee’s son, Jack, would join two years later.
Big-D Construction completes first large scale design-build project for Kremco. The project marked Big-D’s first multimillion-dollar project.
In just 10 years, Big-D’s annual revenue went from $1 million to $10 million.
Salt Lake City, Utah office opened. At the time, the office would serve as a regional office for Big-D. The team there also purchased its first computer – a used Apple III.
The office was located near 400 South and 500 East in Salt Lake. It has since been demolished.
Jack Livingood is promoted to President and Dee Livingood devotes career to community service.
Big-D marks first year with $50 million in revenue.
Big-D Construction has a longstanding history of building relationships with notable companies in the United States. In its early years, Big-D forged relationships with companies such as Kremco and Cream O’Weber. During the 80s, Big-D would begin working with Smith’s Food & Drug.
In 1989, Big-D would construct its first one-million square-foot project with Smith’s Food & Drug. The project was a processing and distribution center. “Smith’s was a turning point for us,” said Jack Livingood. “They took us into California and Arizona. So they were just a really big customer and we were doing jobs for them all over the West. It really expanded our thoughts on what we can be.”
Since 1989, Big-D would go on to construct a number of facilities for Smith’s in Utah, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
When you drive along Interstate 80 in the Salt Lake Valley, you may notice a beige and blue building that currently houses the administration offices and classrooms for the Granite School District. At first glance, the building looks like a hospital. And it once was; in fact, it was a hospital that Big-D constructed in the early 90s.
The FHP Hospital project consisted of three separate buildings: Hospital, Specialty Center, and a Central Heat Plant. It was a 200,000 square-foot project that put Big-D on the map for healthcare. Aside from the buildings, Big-D also constructed an underground tunnel system that connected the Central Heat Plant and the Specialty Center with the Hospital.
The hospital was completed in the spring of 1993. However, it was sold just 3-years later. The hospital was eventually renamed the Rocky Mountain Medical Center under new ownership. The facility would close its doors permanently in 2001. Granite School District purchased the vacant hospital in 2004.
More than 3 million tortillas in a month! That is how many tortillas are produced at the “World’s Largest Tortilla Making Facility”. That’s a lot of guacamole. What you may not know is Big-D built the facility more than 20 years ago.
In 1994, Big-D Construction was hired by Mission Foods to construct a 310,000 square-foot production facility in Rancho Cucamonga, California. The production facility would be used to make corn and flour tortillas, chips, salsa and other products for sale by Mission Foods. Construction just took 10 months and today it produces about 21,000 tortillas in a day.
Scott Matheson Courthouse would mark the largest state-owned design-build project.
Big-D headquarters move from Ogden, Utah to Riverdale, Utah.
In the mid-90s, Big-D Construction was roughly three times the size of most of its competitors. And the pressure was on to land the next big deal. That deal would come in the form of chips; computer chips to be exact. In 1995, Big-D Construction was awarded a $125-million-dollar project with Micron.
This would mark the largest project in the history of the company. “We put together a great project,” said Rob Moore. “So that was a huge milestone for us to get to that next big project level.” More than 2,400 workers were assigned to construct the four-level, 836,000 square-foot high-technology facility in Lehi, Utah. The team poured more than 52,000 cubic yards of concrete, erected 5,238 tons of structural steel, and installed 5,950 tons of rebar. Construction took just 8 months.
Dee Livingood dies at the age 57 after a battle with cancer. Jack Livingood becomes CEO.
Santee Dairy: Largest milk plant in the world.
During the early 90s, Big-D was searching for an identity to help separate it from the competition. “We were trying to be more corporate,” said Big-D Chief Executive Officer, Rob Moore. “We wanted something that could identify with Big-D Construction. So we tried to look for an identity.”
The vision was to create something that represented both construction and the strength of Big-D. Working with Richter 7 and artist Scott Snow, that identity soon transformed into the Ironman. The initial drawings of the Ironman evolved to include the hard hat and steel beam. “All of a sudden, it stuck,” said Moore. “And we knew that when people look at that, they would identify with Big-D.”
“Our guys in the field absolutely love this image,” adds Jack Livingood. “It represents how they feel about themselves as construction workers.”
The Ironman has stood the test of time. His look and colors have never been altered. And while he has yet to make People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive!” list, signs that bear his image have notoriously been stolen over the years.
More than 20 years after he first joined Big-D Construction, Rob Moore is promoted to President of the company.
In the late 90s, Big-D Construction adopted an elementary school. But not just any elementary school. Gramercy Elementary School in Ogden was where Jack Livingood was a student in his early years. In 1999, the school was officially adopted by Big-D Construction.
At the school, the “Big-D Club” was formed to emphasize the importance of having focused, positive goals to work towards. As members of the Club, students received an honorary Big-D identification card, a t-shirt, baseball hat, and admission to go on special trips. The school even had an Ironman in the main hall and whenever a student achieved a goal, his or her name was added to the beam. Big-D Construction also donated time and resources to repave the playground and repaint the interior and exterior walls of the school.
While the “Big-D Club” is no longer in existence, it still holds a special place in the hearts of everyone involved.
Leprino Foods: Largest cheese plant in the world.
It started as a vision more than a century ago. After Annie Taylor Dee’s husband, Thomas, suddenly died in 1905, she resolved to honor his memory with a hospital that would offer the best care to the community. Nearly 100 years after the Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital first opened, Big-D Construction would begin work on what would be a new, one million square-foot McKay-Dee Hospital. This would mark the largest healthcare project for Big-D.
The new hospital was designed and constructed to provide a healing environment for patients and guests. There are panoramic windows, fountains, vibrant colors and artwork, walking paths, and a nearby nature preserve.
Following its successful completion in 2001, Intermountain Healthcare has brought Big-D back for a number of remodels and additions at the McKay-Dee campus.
By the late 1990s, Big-D Construction remained one of the leaders in the commercial construction industry in Utah. Around this time, Jack Livingood and Bill Smith were eying the high-end residential market. “Every so often, we would have a customer ask us to build their homes. So we had built a couple,” said Livingood.
Jack had also built a relationship with JLF & Associates out of Bozeman, Montana. The architecture firm was hired to design Jack’s house in Wyoming. “That sort of triggered us to try a few of these big houses. And that is how Signature started,” said Livingood.
Since 2001, Signature has constructed several multi-million dollar homes in Utah, Wyoming, California, and even Tennessee. Working with JLF & Associates under the umbrella JLF Design Build, the two firms have constructed more than $300 million in projects. Aside from its office in Jackson, Wyoming, Signature opened a second office in Park City, Utah, and has even worked on some commercial projects. Several of its projects have been featured in magazines and books. “Signature is a good business,” said Livingood. “It is extraordinary in what Signature has done.”
In 2002, Big-D Construction helped to construct the stage for the Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Big-D built several facilities for the Games, including the Olympic-sized version of Rice-Eccles Stadium that would host the opening and closing ceremonies. During this phase, crews had to work closely with the Secret Service and Counterterrorism Security personnel to secure seating for then-President George Bush for the opening ceremonies.
About an hour from Rice-Eccles, Big-D Construction was also hard at work transforming the Dee Events Center in Ogden into the venue for curling. Also, crews assembled the Olympic Grandstand for spectators and media to watch the Alpine Skiing and Giant Slalom events and Snowbasin Resort. In Park City, Big-D built the SLOC Amphitheater at Olympic Park.
It was arguably one of the most complicated construction projects in Utah that was intended to capture the imaginations and aspirations of downtown Salt Lake City. And it did; all 280,000 square feet of it. In the early 2000s, Big-D found itself at the helm of constructing the new Salt Lake City Library. It was an ambitious project that would take nearly 30 months to complete.
The six-story curving, walkable wall of the library has now become almost as iconic as the Capitol Building that stands about a mile away. The 600-foot walkable wall embraces a public plaza, shops, spiraling fireplaces, gallery space for more than 500,000 books, and a 300-seat auditorium. A magnificent stairway rises through the building to reveal a beautiful rooftop garden. There’s a “lens” on the south side that helps to warm the building during the winter months.
At the time, the project would mark the largest architectural concrete project in Utah.
Big-D Pacific opens in Pleasanton, California.
If the walls in the Big-D Corporate office building could talk…
The Fuller Paint Building has been a unique part of downtown Salt Lake City since it was first constructed it in 1922. In 2004, Jack Livingood purchased the building and embarked on a restoration project that would garner a LEED Gold certification and a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s Big-D’s home, but it also has some seldom discussed secrets.
The building was used as a security command post for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The Fuller Building reportedly received all the security feeds from the various Olympic venues and all major security decisions were made within these walls.
And many would be surprised to hear that when we purchased the building one of the tenants was an adult film studio. We won’t tell you which floor, but needless to say, they had to go. “Kerry Arnold, our project manager came in and said ‘what do you want me to do about the porn’,” said Livingood. “I gave him a wad of cash and said: ‘go down there and get them the heck out of our building’.” Long story short, the production group took the cash and now it’s part of the Fuller building lore.
The building also has a page in pop culture history. The interior of the building was for filming movies and television shows, including episodes of “Touched by an Angel” and the independent feature film “SLC Punk”.
Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino: Largest hospitality project.
Big-D opens the Lindon Regional Office.
Big-D would mark the first year with $400 million in sales, 30-years after the company was first founded.
Washington Square Towers would mark Big-D’s first high-rise project. The two, 24-story towers could also be Big-D’s largest residential project to date.
Big-D completes construction on the Twin Falls Idaho Temple. The Temple is the tallest building in Twin Falls and would be the first of 5 ground-up LDS Temples that Big-D would construct.
First year of corporate sales totaling more than $600 million.
Southwest regional office opens in Gilbert, Arizona.
It could have been much worse. Those were the words from the Salt Lake Council regarding a Chevron crude oil spill in Red Butte Creek during the summer of 2010. At the time of the spill, Big-D Construction crews were working nearby on a project unrelated to Red Butte.
Recognizing the seriousness of the situation, 11 workers quickly went to work to create a containment area to trap the leaking oil. They used a large backhoe to dig several temporary containment ponds. A Chevron vacuum truck then pumped these ponds, safely removing the oil from the creek.
In the months following the spill, the Mayor and the City Council of Salt Lake City passed a joint resolution honoring the Big-D Construction employees for their heroic actions as first responders. A worker from Red Butte Gardens was also honored as part of the resolution that partially read: “the 12 responders were not motivated by any financial incentives, rewards, or special recognition; they simply knew their service was needed.”
In 2010, the Balfour Beatty | DPR | Big-D Joint Venture was selected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide design-build services for the Utah Data Center at Camp Williams in Utah. Also known as the Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center, the facility would highlight several innovative technology and energy efficiency features.
This project would mark the first billion dollar project for Big-D. The project would also add another million square-feet to Big-D’s portfolio. The facility consists of approximately 400,000 square-feet for a mission critical data center and 1.2 million square feet of technical support and administrative space.
Groundbreaking was held in the fall of 2010 and construction concluded in the fall of 2013.
Big-D now has 800 employees working out of six offices across the country.
The Natural History Museum of Utah first opened its doors on the campus of the University of Utah in the 1960s. When it opened in the former George Thomas Library, it featured specimens that dated back thousands of years ago.
In 2008, Big-D Construction helped the Natural History Museum to “evolve” with the construction of a new, 163,000 square-foot interactive facility to house some 1.2 million objects, including clothing worn by the first people to inhabit Utah. The new building’s architectural design sensitively integrates it into a natural 17-acre site located above the shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville (the lake existed until about 14,500 years ago). Construction took just 3 years and the Museum opened in 2011.
Inside, the Natural History Museum features the world’s largest display of horned dinosaur skulls from the Cretaceous and Jurassic periods. The Natural History Museum also has state-of-the-art Paleontology and Anthropology laboratories that provide a sterile atmosphere to study and store objects from the museum’s collection.
Big-D is selected as ENR Mountain States’ “Contractor of the Year”.
Big-D is named “Best of State” for the second consecutive year.
Big-D finishes the Brigham City Utah Temple. The Temple will be the 14th temple in Utah, serving more than 40,000 members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints formally dedicates the Temple on September 23, 2012.
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple, The Alexander Residential Tower, and LDS Stake Center: First East Coast large-scale project as a joint venture.
Big-D’s Minnesota Regional Office opens.
Martin-Harris Construction Company, Nevada’s top builder, merges with the Big-D group of companies and continues to operate independently.
SLC Airport: Terminal Redevelopment Project, $1.8 billion, 8-year project. Big-D would team up with Holder Construction to create HDJV.
Voted “Best Companies to Work For” by Utah Business Magazine.
Nearly 50 years since it was first founded, Big-D Construction achieves a billion dollars in sales. At the time, nearly 1,000 employees are employed at Big-D’s Corporate and Regional Offices.
Big-D opens Regional Office in Park City for Signature. The same year, a Signature project is named “Home of the Year” by Mountain Living Magazine.
Big-D Construction makes several organizational changes to facilitate its growth. Rob Moore is promoted to Chief Executive Officer. Forrest McNabb is promoted to President of the Mountain West Group.
As Big-D’s brand expands nationally, Cory Moore is promoted to Executive Vice President and National Managing Director of Big-D’s regional offices. Troy Thompson joins Big-D as Executive Vice President. The two would be tasked with expanding Big-D’s national footprint while supporting its seven regional offices.
Big-D also named “Contractor of the Year” by the Utah Chapter of CCIM.
Utah Business Magazine honors Forrest McNabb for his efforts of promoting sustainability throughout the company. He was honored for “Green Leadership” during the 2017 Green Business Awards.
Through McNabb’s leadership, Big-D Construction has become a top player in the industry’s sustainability movement. The firm’s corporate office, completed in 2004, was the first LEED Gold Historic Renovation in Utah. Now, Big-D has a portfolio of more than 70 LEED projects and its staff includes 65 LEED accredited professionals.
Big-D Construction acquires Arizona general contractor Johnson Carlier. The announcement was made in October 2017.
Since it was founded in 1921, Johnson Carlier has left its mark on the Phoenix area with hundreds of successful projects, especially in its most robust markets including: automotive, food & beverage, distribution, higher education, hospitality, and healthcare. “This acquisition is part of Big-D’s vision to strengthen our company through alliances with premier builders in selected markets,” said Jack Livingood, Big-D Construction Chairman. “Johnson Carlier has a storied history and is highly respected for its integrity and service to its customers. We are excited to be a part of their future.”
On November 2, 2017, Big-D Construction celebrates its 50-year anniversary. As part of the celebration, Big-D released a book commemorating its 50-year tenure in the construction business.