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| 5 min read | by Lonnie Huhman, lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com |

Jerry Brand grew up a military brat in Hawaii and Florida, but later in life he came to call Dexter his home, and the place where he raised his family while also helping to build a school district.

Jerry Brand is standing far right.

He’s now headed into retirement. Looking back at his career with Granger Construction Company, many in the Dexter community vouch for the positive impact he and Granger have had in building the schools.

Brand has basically had a hand in the renovation or building of every school building in Dexter. His legacy in the school district has also been extended through his son, who is also with Granger and helped lead the building of the new elementary school, Beacon.

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Outgoing Dexter Community Schools Board of Education President Michael Wendorf said Brand and Granger Construction have deep roots in Dexter and Michigan.  He said Brand’s roots extend to his sons and grandchildren who live in the community.  

Pointing to the fact that Granger, which is based in Lansing, has built educational buildings for both public school districts and Michigan’s great public universities, Wendorf said, “Our community school district values such roots and the deep experience and knowledge of construction that Jerry and Granger bring to our table.”  

“We have relied on Jerry’s knowledge and affection for our community and schools to bring at least our most recent four bond projects to completion on time and within budget,” Wendorf said. “This includes construction of our K-12 educational complex with Anchor and Beacon schools. As significant as his management of these projects has been I also believe that Jerry Brand has contributed very significantly to our campus environment and long term strategic vision for our buildings, fields and facilities.”  

He said the district with Brand’s help has also been able to acquire property that will allow it to grow over an extended period along with the community.  

“Jerry Brand’s low key and effective style and vision will benefit our community for generations of students,” Wendorf said.

Jerry Brand

This sentiment was echoed by former DCS Superintendent John Hansen.

“As I recall we interviewed at least five architectural firms and five construction management firms when we were building Cornerstone and Mill Creek schools,” Hansen said. “Granger was selected on the basis of their reputation and experience with school projects, and the fact that Jerry was local was seen as an added plus.”

Hansen said, “As it turned out Jerry was simply a very competent manager, but I know that he also went above and beyond knowing that he was building for his own community.  The same team was hired back for the high school project and any vendor will tell you that is the highest compliment.”

After spending time in California working with a company specializing in concrete, Brand found his way to Dexter in large part because of his wife, who is from Dexter and whose family has a long history in the community, but whom he met on the west coast.

He was also looking to take his professional career to the next step by attending the Univerisity of Michigan to earn an engineering degree. He said he and his wife thought Dexter would be the right place to set down roots.

“It’s just a really nice community,” Brand said of Dexter, and cited the schools as one of the important reasons they thought that.

After earning his degree, he began working with Granger in 1989. He said he had another firm in mind, but Granger made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, and that was the opportunity to manage the building of large, complex projects.

His first project was building the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility in Adrian and the next was the renovation/abatement of over 50 buildings in the Lansing school district.  

He said he enjoyed planning and executing complex multiple building projects that required long range planning, and projects that required sequencing around occupied existing activities.

“I liked the challenge of taking the pieces of the puzzle, putting together a plan and then executing and completing a project,” he said.

During his time with Granger, he’s served as a vice president, project director, senior project manager and project manager and worked on various projects around Michigan, especially in Washtenaw County, such as Dexter, Saline, Chelsea, Skyline and Belleville high schools.

One of the projects he’s proud of is the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus Athletics South Competition and Performance (ASCP) project, which is described as an archetype of a modern Olympic training and performance facility.

“Jerry’s broad base of experience, with particular depth in the corrections and K-12 schools markets, helped him to be an exceptional problem solver,” Glenn Granger, President/CEO. “He did outstanding work for many clients, including the Dexter, Saline and Chelsea school districts and the University of Michigan.”

Granger further said, “The impact of Jerry’s work will be realized for many years to come; he was a great role model and mentor for many, and we are grateful that his son, Greg, remains part of the Granger team. We will miss his positive attitude, sense of humor and our healthy MSU/U of M rivalry!”

Brand said he’s looking forward to just being retired and plans on chasing his grandkids around a lot.

Looking back, he said, “I’m proud of the work we did. I always had a great team around me on each project. I take great pride in the work we did with Dexter schools.”

He can feel comfortable that his legacy is in place.

“Our buildings reflect a vision of flexibility and spaces that match our educational vision,” Wendorf said. “Jerry’s experience with our district has allowed us to construct buildings that reflect our district’s vision and the needs of our children.”

Wendorf put it well in looking at Brand’s legacy.

“Jerry’s knowledge of and commitment to our community has helped create and build out a campus based school district that reflects both our educational vision and community values,” he said. “Our community will benefit for many years to come.”

“Congratulations and thank you Jerry.”

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