Three Distinguished Constructors Inducted into the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame
On October 27, 2022, three Distinguished Constructors were inducted into the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame, housed in the Granger Center for Construction and HVACR on the Ferris State University campus in Big Rapids, MI. These three construction professionals represent over 130 years of experience in the construction industry.
Frank Jonna - Jonna Companies - CAM Board Member
Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Frank Jonna’s family emigrated to Detroit, Michigan when Frank was six months old. Frank began his construction career in 1972 as a laborer working for his brother – a role he considers the greatest job in construction. You can walk away from it at the end of the day and say that you did your job.”
Frank became a partner in 1980. It was at this time that the company experienced its greatest growth and started the development side of the business. By 1999, Frank was named CEO of Jonna Companies – a holding company for Jonna Construction and Jonna Realty Ventures.
Frank was bullish on development in Detroit. He helped pave the way for the revival of Midtown and moved Jonna Construction to Detroit as a certified Detroit-Headquartered Business.
Frank has proudly given back to the community through his work with the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Central, and construction of the Shenandoah Country Club. He has served on the CAM Board of Directors since 2019.
Tom DiPonio - Jay Dee Contractors, Inc.
Thomas (Tom) DiPonio was born in Detroit and raised in Redford Township, MI. In 1965, his father formed his own company, Jay Dee Contractors, Inc. focused on open cut and tunnel construction.
Tom attended the University of Detroit in the Civil Engineering program and co-op’d in the family business. Upon graduation, he went to work at Jay Dee Contractors, Inc. in the field for four years as an operations manager before becoming vice president of the company. Five years later (1988), he was named its president.
Jay Dee Contractors, Inc. focuses on heavy underground construction and tunneling and is known as a pioneer of the jacked pipe tunneling method. They are one of the premier pressurized face tunnel contractors in North America.
In 2015, Tom was inducted as a member of the Moles, a national heavy civil construction association based in New York. He is also a member of the Beavers, a West Coast heavy civil construction association, and the Groundhogs, an underground construction association based in Chicago. He has served his industry through multiple industry associations and worked with the legislature to ensure lawmakers appreciate the funding mechanisms for the industry.
L.R. Swadley - Swadley Development LLC
L.R. Swadley was born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, but considers Marquette, Michigan, his hometown. In 1976 he moved to Marquette and formed his own business – contracting roofing, framing, and rough carpentry then expanding to remodeling, custom homes, and large community developments including condominiums, commercial buildings, and senior housing. L.R.’s development projects are known for their focus on conservation areas and creating a sense of place for the homeowners.
While L.R.’s custom homes and community development have been significant for the Marquette area, his most significant contributions to the construction industry have been his service within the Home Builders Associations.
L.R. was involved at the state and national-level Home Builders Associations. During his 2017 tenure as president of the Home Builders Association of Michigan (HBAM), he focused on “sustainable housing,” developing HBAM’s policy around affordability and attainability. This sustainable/affordable housing report has evolved into a statewide legislature and a national initiative.
About the Michigan Construction Hall of Fame
The Michigan Construction Hall of Fame in Ferris State University's Granger Center for Construction and HVACR serves as a permanent place for students, staff, and visitors to appreciate the achievements of leaders of the construction industry in Michigan.
The Ferris State University Construction Management program is nationally accredited through the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE). The program enjoys strong ties with its industry partners, and graduates enter the workforce as contributing members of commercial, residential, and heavy civil construction firms. The Construction Hall of Fame provides an icon challenging us all to strive for excellence while creating a visible linkage between the construction industry and Ferris State University.