Century Construction celebrates 50th anniversary; fruits of its labor seen across Northern Kentucky


By Vicki Prichard
NKy Tribune reporter

Evidence of Century Construction’s success is visible throughout Northern Kentucky.

Century Construction’s craftsmanship is evident in the Hotel Covington (provided photos).

It’s projects are among some of the region’s most notable buildings including Hotel Covington, Newport’s Hofbrauhaus, the Diocese of Covington’s Curia Building, Bishop Brossart High School, and St. Barbara Church and Event Center.

This year, Century Construction celebrates its 50th anniversary. The company was founded in Covington in 1968 by three partners – best friends – Mike Mangeot, an accountant, Jack Hodge, a mason, and Mike Ruh, a carpenter. Together, they possessed the essential skills to lay a solid foundation for a successful construction company.

“They started in Covington at the old Coppin’s Building,” says John Hodge, Jack’s son and Century’s president. “My dad was a union mason with the steel mill at the time, and I think he was tired of getting laid off, as the steel mill had its cycles.”

Just prior to founding Century, Hodge and Mangeot started a company called Commercial Masonry, focusing on brick and block work. They realized that that wasn’t quite enough, so in 1968, Ruh joined them, rounding out the business with his carpentry skills.

Century Construction started as a non-union company in 1968, which Hodge says was unusual back then. The firm grew slowly but quickly and established a reputation for service and responsiveness to industrial customers who called on the business for needs that ranged from emergency repairs to major plant expansions.

Cincinnati-based Milacron remains one of Century’s longest running clients. Hodge says the company began working with Milacron in 1972, and does everything from replacing a broken door to building multimillion dollar additions.

“Taking care of your clients is what it’s all about,” says Hodge.

Jack Hodge Mike Ruh and Mike Mangeot founded Century Construction

Growing a business and a family
In 1984, Century outgrew its Covington location and relocated to Erlanger where its headquarters remain.

Mangeot, Ruh, and Jack Hodge remained partners for more than 35 years, until Jack’s untimely death in 2003. The company was passed on to the second generation of Hodges when Jack’s sons, John and David Hodge purchased the company.

Hodge says he originally didn’t want to work with the family business. He enrolled in a construction management program at the University of Cincinnati, but didn’t enjoy it and ended up attending Northern Kentucky University where he earned a degree in history and political science. He attended George Washington University for some post graduate work in international affairs, then considered law school. He had always worked in the family business in summer months – working in the field – and the summer before he was to begin law school, his dad suggested he take a stab at working in the company’s office.

“I never looked back,” says Hodge.

John Hodge continues the family legacy as president of Century Construction

“Once a customer, always a customer”
Today, Hodge carries forward with his father’s business tenets.

“One is being responsive to customers and clients – we stay close to them and take care of their needs. The answer is always, ‘Yes,’” says Hodge. “If someone’s got a problem we’ve got a solution. He was really good about being responsive to customers.”

Hodge says his father never had a “one and done” philosophy and took pride in having repeat business.

“Once a customer, always a customer,” says Hodge. “We take a lot of pride in that we deliver our services honestly and responsively, and try to do right by our customers. It’s long term for us.”

Hodge says he hopes to see his sons carry on as Century’s third generation. He has two sons who are now working in the family business – Andrew works in the office handling the company’s marketing and Alex works in the field.

“One of the things I learned from my dad,” says Andrew Hodge, “is that we didn’t make it ourselves. I think that’s why we’ve got people who’ve been here 40 years. We respect them and treat them well. Our culture and work environment recognizes them and treats them well. They’re good guys.”

The next generation of talent
Another critical piece that Hodge keeps in mind as the company looks to its next 50 years, is attracting the next generation of talented craftspeople to the business. The young generation of Hodges can help with that, and Andrew visits local high schools to get the word out to students that, if they like working with their hands, they can find great opportunities in construction.

“We’re trying to get in the schools – Dixie Heights High School, Lloyd – and say, “if you like working with your hands there are opportunities. And one day you can point to things and say you built that,” says Hodge.

Andrew Hodge says he’s setting up conversations at other schools, getting into career exploration classes, to show that the construction industry is a viable option.

“For a lot of kids who might not have the money or means to go to college, come and work in the field and see if you like it. I think a lot of people think it’s college or nothing, and that’s not the case,” says Andrew. “People have pride in the projects they’ve done here. They can drive by a project that will be here 50 or a hundred years and say to their grandkids, “I built that,” and that’s a special feeling.”

Bank of Kentucky building before and after Century’s renovation (click to enlarge).

Century is making an investment in the next generation.

“Right now, we have two kids in the BIA program, and we pay 100 percent of that,” says Hodge.

The BIA of Northern Kentucky’s Enzweiler Building Institute is the longest running, and one of the largest post-secondary apprenticeship training programs under the auspices of the National Association of Home Builder’s in the country. The program offers classes in carpentry, electricity, heating and A/C, facilities maintenance and remodeling, masonry, plumbing, and welding.

Hodge points out that some of the most successful people in the region are in construction and real estate development, and that many of them did it the hard way, but ultimately owned their own business.

“You can own your own business – it’s what you make of it. And you can build and repair your own house. Hopefully we’ll get the message out,” he says.

Century Construction’s renovation of Newport’s landmark Hofbrauhaus (click to enlarge).

The next generation of buildings
Century’s current projects include the Boone County Community Center in Burlington, Thomas More College’s Health Sciences Building in Edgewood, Ballyshannon Middle School in Union, and Blaze Pizza at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The company also provides year-round construction services to regional institutions and industrial firms which include St. Elizabeth Healthcare, UPS, J.M. Smucker, BASF, Milacron, and Tyson Foods.

Covington’s Center for Great Neighborhoods was among Century’s projects. Hodge says Hellmann Lumber & Hardware, which was the original business on that site, was a favorite vendor of Century’s for many years.

Hodge says he always enjoys learning the story behind a building renovation.

“Of all the places we work, from Lexington to north of 275 in Cincinnati, Covington is probably our favorite place to work.

Century will officially celebrate its 50th anniversary with a party on June 14, 2018.

“We’ve got a lot to celebrate,” says Hodge.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Triibune at news@nkytrib.com


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