Approximately 170 feet of wall space has been taken up to tell the story of Walbridge through photos, illustrations, documents and other memorabilia.
It’s commonly referred to as “the history wall,” and visitors are transported in time from 1916, the year Albert Aldinger and George Walbridge founded the company, through the firm’s centennial year in 2016.
Highlights include a copy of the letter George Walbridge handed to Aldinger on Feb. 11, 1918, announcing he was resigning to take a commission as a major in the Army’s Reserve Engineer Corps.
Walbridge headed up construction of two training camps, one of which was at Ft. Custer in Michigan.
“Fortunately, the company kept a lot of important documents and photos over the decades,” said Mark Marymee, Walbridge corporate communications manager. “To fill in some gaps, we had to contact libraries and historical societies in the United States and Canada. I’m also thankful for eBay. That’s where I bought some old McLouth Steel magazine ads from the 1950s.”
There is a section dedicated to John Rakolta, Sr., whose plane was shot down over Germany near the end of World War II. He survived the crash and spent several months in a prisoner of war camp before his release and return to the U.S.
Once back in Detroit, he joined Walbridge Aldinger as a timekeeper.
By 1970, he was sole owner of Walbridge and served as CEO, Chairman and, finally, Chairman Emeritus up until his death in 2003.
“The purpose of the wall is to honor our leaders and point out milestones in our history,” said John Rakolta, Jr., Walbridge Chairman and CEO. “I don’t use the term ‘memorialize’, because what these leaders established and what these projects taught us continue to live in us to this day. We are a product of this heritage.”
Marymee worked with a team from Fathead Pro in Detroit to design, print and install customized vinyl wall coverings and stand-off items.