The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Mears Group.
Founded in 1970, Mears today is an industry-leading energy infrastructure solutions provider serving multiple markets that include gas distribution, pipeline and facilities construction, pipeline integrity, horizontal direction drilling (HDD) and Direct Pipe (DP) installations. Mears is also active in the electric transmission and distribution, telecommunications, and water and sewer markets.
As it has for 50 years, Mears’ headquarters remains in the small town of Rosebush, Mich., but it now has locations in 24 other states.
In 1969, Herb Fluharty was a project engineer for Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) in Chicago.
“I had grown up working on pipeline construction for the company my father founded, Welded Construction,” said Fluharty.
Although he was then employed at a large organization, Fluharty recognized and appreciated the challenges of owning a small business. When his father passed away, Fluharty wanted to move back to Rosebush to be closer to his mother and family.
About the same time, a friend started a land surveying and civil engineering business. “He encouraged me to go in that direction,” said Fluharty.
In June 1970, Fluharty, his wife, Chris, and three young children returned to Rosebush where he started a small surveying business. By 1974, the company was serving pipeline clients in central Michigan, and the scope of its services expanded to include machinery, engineering, accounting, repairs and sales.
In 1975 the company was renamed Mears – an acronym using the first letter of each word in its list of provided services – Engineering. It started, and remains, as a family matter, Fluharty owned and operated, and with an extended Mears “family.”
“Remember,” Fluharty said, “we come from Rosebush, Mich., a town of 300; we were family. I had my son, Scot, and nephew, John, who came alongside me early on and have always been essential to Mears’ success. Some would say: ‘Herb could get in the door; John could convince the customer we can do the job; and Scot was left to get it done and make some money doing it.”
Somehow the feeling of “family” has been retained as the company has grown to more than 5,000 employees. It’s clear they are all proud of their company and enjoy working there.
“I believe it stems from respecting and appreciating people as individuals blessed with differing gifts,” Fluharty observed. “I grew up on the pipeline and was exposed to many folks with various talents.
“My father, who was a welder himself, taught us respect for those who did the work. He told me often, ‘Remember, these are the people who really make us our living.’ That, along with, ‘You don’t have to know everything, just bring together those that do,’ has always stuck with me.
“I believe Mears has been blessed with incredible talent, leadership that recognized that, and allows people to do what they are good at.”