D2D Buyer Ready Business: Benkari – Adrienne Bennett, President and CEO

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Detroit’s Benkari Mechanical is Michigan’s first and only female, minority-owned plumbing and mechanical contractor. Benkari provides both plumbing and heating & cooling services for a variety of facility types including from commercial buildings and transportation facilities to single family homes. Adrienne Bennett, President and CEO, holds the distinction of being America’s first African American female licensed master plumber, plumbing contractor, plumbing inspector, and medical gas system inspector and installer. Additionally, Bennett was recently named the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Detroit, Crystal Vision Woman of the Year. She founded Benkari, a family-owned business, nine years ago and within the past few years has brought her son into the business as well.

What is the history and background of Benkari?

I’ve been in the A/E/C industry for 35 years and after holding positions from plumbing apprentice to Senior Project Manager, I decided to utilize my experience in the field and boardroom and launch my own company. My youngest son, Adrian-Keith (A.K.) decided to follow in my footsteps and has become a tremendous asset to the company’s growth as its project manager. Together we are dedicated to providing apprenticeship and employment opportunities to employ the unemployed and give back to Detroit in any way possible.

What are some of Benkari’s notable clients?

We’ve had the pleasure of working with many wonderful clients. One of the largest to date, is the Detroit Transportation Corporation which operates the Detroit People Mover. As their maintenance contractor, Benkari has completed extensive plumbing and heating repairs and renovations including fixture replacement, backflow prevention testing, and replacing significant spans of drainage pipe within the facilities and along the track of the system. We worked on build-outs for The Albert located in Capitol Park. We also had the opportunity to work on the site storm water drainage for the Detroit Events & Entertainment Center in late 2015. We hope to return to “The District” for more work in 2016.

Beyond those two projects, other renovation work recently completed includes PNC Bank, Burger King and the City of Warren.

A project we just began is the Goodwill Welcome Center on E. Grand Boulevard in the Milwaukee Junction area. We’re very excited to be a part of the team building a new facility for Goodwill Industries, a beacon in our community.

What is Benkari’s culture?

We strive to be personable, passionate and loyal to our clients, employees, colleagues and to provide quality services. A personal mantra I try to instill by example is to: be someone people are happy to see coming and sad to see go. Relationships are the bedrock of our business and we take them seriously. Tenacity and perseverance are requirements to survive in this industry and that’s a big part of our culture. We’re small but mighty.

Why did Benkari select Detroit as its headquarters?

I grew up in Detroit and am a graduate of Detroit Public Schools. I spent the vast majority of my apprenticeship here in the city, and I served as the master plumber for Henry Ford Health System for a decade. I was the plumbing inspector for the re-opening of the Fox and worked on the Hart Plaza fountain and Millender Center. The city, its past and present, are in my bones. There’s no question that we want Benkari to be a mainstay of Detroit for decades to come. We are currently planning to purchase property in the city to establish an expanded headquarters with additional office space and a fabrication shop.

What companies have you collaborated with in Detroit?

Clients of ours located in the city include W3 Construction, Sachse Construction, Walker-Miller Energy Services, Blaze-Iafrate, and DAPCO. We strive to use Detroit-based suppliers as well. Engineering Reproduction Inc. supplies all of our blueprints, B & D Construction LLC is one of our trusted subcontractors and we utilize both Advance Plumbing and Heating Supply and Safway Services frequently. We’re always looking to meet and work with other Detroit businesses.

What are the benefits of connecting with other Detroit businesses?

When Detroit businesses work together and support each other, we’re helping the city flourish. As Detroit company revenues rise, tax revenues rise and the city is able to improve its services and areas we operate in. Connecting together helps build a network of businesses and people passionate about Detroit and that network becomes a tremendous source of referrals, contracts and sales.

Brian Watkins

D2D Program Manager

 

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