Reliable Contracting of Gambrills started as two brothers and a used dump truck. During its 90 years in business, it has turned into a multi-generational, multi-million dollar company with more than 500 employees.
The firm offers paving, utility, trucking and grading services. It celebrated its 90th anniversary with a party Saturday.
In 1928, brothers Bill and Frank Baldwin purchased a used dump truck and began a hauling business. After a decade of work the Baldwins received their first state contract. Adding a few more dump trucks, a bulldozer and a few employees, Reliable Contracting incorporated in 1942.
However, after World War II, brothers were forced to abandon their business and return to farming out of financial necessity.
In 1950, after graduating from Cornell University, Tom Baldwin purchased his father Frank’s share of Reliable Contracting and the company was back in business.
Founder Bill Baldwin began working alongside Tom and stayed with the company until he was 83 years-old.
Bill’s son Meade Baldwin Sr. was Reliable’s longest active employee with 61 years of service as an executive vice president until his passing three weeks ago. Jack Baldwin, Bill’s other son, also holds a position as executive vice president and has been working in the family business for 56 years.
Meade Baldwin Jr., John Baldwin and Patricia Baldwin are Reliable Contracting employees with decades of service. A fourth generation of Baldwin’s is now at work. President Jay Baldwin’s 19-year-old son Ryan Baldwin began working for Reliable at the age of 15 and returns to work in the summer while attending James Madison University.
Tom Baldwin was president of Reliable for 52 years until handing the reins over to his son Jay Baldwin in 2002.
“’Don’t screw it up’ was my father’s advice when I took over,” laughed Jay Baldwin. “He (Tom Baldwin) was a good visionary and Jack and Meade (Baldwin) were always there and always supportive. It’s been easy for me.”
By 2006, Reliable Contracting grossed over $100 million dollars in sales.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford attended the 90th Anniversary banquet and awarded a Governor’s Citation to Jay Baldwin for Reliable Contracting’s service to the state in road construction.
“A lot of our success is thanks to the State Highway Administration,” said Jay Baldwin. “My goals are to continue to grow the company and be part of the community. I’d like to expand into territories we work in and continue to grow our volume.”
Among the more than 200 employees at the banquet Saturday, many had decades of service to Reliable Contracting.
George White has 40 years of service with the company. He began as a dispatcher and is now plant manager of the asphalt plants.
“It’s a great company to work for,” said White. “We get treated well. They care about their employees. They’re good people.”
Roger Anderson has worked for Reliable for 26 years. He services the machines and performs maintenance on the vehicles
“After 26 years it’s been all good,” Anderson said. “All good people. They’re family-oriented people. If you have a problem, you have someone to go to. I sure miss Meade Baldwin (Sr.). I keep looking for that big guy.”
At the banquet, Jay Baldwin gave out awards in each division for exemplary performances. When Baldwin called out an award for Bill Nider and said, “It’s never too late to call #278,” the room broke out in applause.
Nider has only been with Reliable for two years after coming from a background of decades in sales. “I got the award because if they need something done, I’ll turn around and get it done,” Nider said. “If something needs to go out after 5 p.m., I got it. I got lucky with the truck number #278 and ‘it’s never too late’ started to be a joke.”
At the banquet employees cheered in response to Jay Baldwin’s mention of their bonus for exceeding their annual quota and cheered louder when Baldwin announced the next raise will begin this Friday.
“Each year we’re going to do something special leading up to 100 years,” Jay Baldwin said. “I certainly hope our grandfathers are proud. I don’t think they ever envisioned this [much success] when they started.”
On June 13 at 7 p.m., the Anne Arundel County Western District Police-Community Relations Council will meet. The guest speaker will be Lisa Hart of Arundel Federal Savings Bank. She will give a talk on avoiding fraud.