Today Ira M. Green Construction in Claremore has three generations of family leadership and is the parent to branching companies that employ around 500 people.
It all started in 1969.
Ira and Joanne Green took a risk on a couple of trucks and a contract to do some hauling for a local concrete company. Little did they know, they created a legacy.
“Ira was in construction already and starting a business was something that he really wanted to do,” said Joanne, now the chief executive officer and vice president of the company.
What began as a mom and pop trucking operation took off quickly and grew over the years with road projects and ponds.
Their family took off quickly as well, with twin boys Brian and Brent born in 1970, and a daughter, Julie, born three years later.
They started partnering with developers on subdivisions and helping the Claremore and surrounding cities with municipal projects.
Arguably their biggest claim to fame is the racetrack at Will Rogers Downs, built in 1986. Otherwise their work has been largely in housing and retail; doing the underappreciated but much needed work of utility grading and paving.
“Construction is a broad paintbrush that allows for several different types of things,” said Brian, president of the company. “Moving earth in many forms is what we do.”
The children grew up intimately involved in the business.
“My entire life has been hanging out in my dad’s shadow, playing in the dirt,” Brian said. “As a kid sometimes it was just like playing in a big sandbox. We never grew out of it, just our toys got bigger.”
Brent recalled how, even when they were young, their father would come to them to get their opinions on big decisions.
“I remember him sitting us all down in the living room and asking us what we thought about making this big decision. It was a huge leap for him,” Brent said, referring to a company acquisition in 1983. “I think that’s the idea of family business, that you are even asking your own children and keeping them included.”
“It was important to him to have all of his family involved in what he was doing,” Julie said.
Brian’s sons Dakota Ira and Levi are now deeply involved with the business as well, while they simultaneously pursue their individual passions.
Working together is a family pastime for the Greens. It is a warmth and enjoyment that makes the day-to-day worth while.
“Growing a business is like raising a family,” Brian said. “You nourish it, you take care of it, you prop it up. You’re up with it late and you’re up with it early. It becomes a part of who you are.”
Growing both requires a strong faith-based foundation, Joanne said.
“We give the credit to God for the blessings and grace we have received to still be doing this 50 years later,” Brian added.
“We all want to see it succeed. We all work together to see it grow,” Joanne said, with gratitude. “It is a legacy. It grows and it goes on and on. Long after I’m gone it will still be going.”
Ira died young, just 55 in 1996.
Many remember Ira as a hardworking, honest, fair, sincere and determined man.
“Ira Green, as a company and as a man, taught us how to work,” Brent said.
Brent said their father instilled in them an ethic to go the extra mile for the customers they serve and provide the extra value in their work.
“I don’t think you stay in business for 50 years if you’re just doing it for money, there has to be a bigger purpose,” he said.
Julie said, “My strongest memories are of how long and hard he worked. If you wanted to catch a peep of him you had come down here to do it.”
“His legacy lives on,” Joanne added.
The company fell to then 26-year-old Brian and Joanne, who continued in her administrative roll.
“We took it and ran with it, and we haven’t stopped since,” Joanne said.
Brent took off with the home building part of the business and created Green Builders. It became one of five spin-off companies all housed within the Ira M. Green Construction umbrella.
Nearly 500 people are employed between the six affiliated companies.
“We’ve employed hundreds of people and helped feed hundreds of families,” Brian said.
Three people have retired from the company with more than 20 years under their belts. Several more long-time employees are still around.
“They’re not actually family, but they feel like it,” Joanne said of the their staff.
Ira M. Green Construction has had a lot of impact in and around Claremore over the years.
“You can look around everywhere and see where we have had a hand in building this town,” Joanne said.
They do work in Owasso, Bixby, Broken Arrow and Tulsa, too, but Brian said, “Claremore is our anchor. It is where we come back to every day.”