Wolverine Fire Protection Co: A business built on PURPOSE

In 1958, Ed and Faith Corcoran started Wolverine Fire Protection Co. out of their garage in Mt. Morris, Mich. Their team was a hungry group with a humble beginning.

Today, Wolverine is one of the largest independently owned fire protection contractors in the United States, serving an array of customers nationwide. The path has been bumpy at times, but the company endured and grew tremendously.

What are the roots of Wolverine’s success? Strong relationships and an even stronger belief in its values.

Enduring Principles

“The company was founded on the idea that when you take care of people, they come back,” said Amy Shanks, Wolverine’s Accounting Supervisor and a granddaughter of founders Ed and Faith.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on quality workmanship, getting it done on time, and giving back to the community.”

Tim and Martin (Marty) Corcoran, Wolverine’s Vice President and CEO, respectively, believe the way their parents Ed and Faith were raised still contributes to the company’s success.

“It’s been sort of a tradition of each generation to carry on the values the company was established on,” Tim said.

“Our Value System”

As the company has prospered, it’s strengthened its efforts to help people.

“Mom and Dad were always philanthropic,” Tim said. “They helped because people needed it. That’s our value system.”

Wolverine and the Corcoran family have supported many organizations, including:

  • Holy Cross Children’s Services
  • Corcoran House
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Ronald McDonald House
  • Several organizations benefitting veterans

Doing right by others has been a constant thread in the Wolverine story. It’s often been the bridge over troubled waters. As a result, the commitment to helping hasn’t waned, it’s gotten stronger.

Leveraging Expertise

So much has changed since 1958, including Wolverine. Adapting has sometimes been challenging (the family joked about Ed’s strong objection to computers). But with the help of others, it became easier.

“We’ve been fortunate to have so many strong relationships throughout the years,” Amy said.

“We’ve had help since the beginning on all sorts of stuff,” Marty said.

The Corcorans point to the employees of Wolverine, its suppliers and subcontractors, as well as outside experts, as drivers of the company’s growth. Without a doubt, it’s been a team effort.

“We are a sprinkler company. That’s what we know,” Amy said. “So, it’s important to get perspectives from bankers, the bonding company, accountants and quality consultants. We’ve gone down that road many times.”

The road includes Rehmann, where Wolverine has been a client for more than a decade.

“We’ve relied on Rehmann’s experience for so many things – audits, tax returns and advice, consulting, and more,” Amy said. “They want us to succeed, you can tell.

“In fact, (Rehmann Principal) Heidi Bolger has been on our board for years. And our first ever client contacts were Randy Rupp (Rehmann’s CEO) and Stacie Kwaiser (Rehmann’s COO).”

“The guidance we’ve received over the years has definitely made us stronger.”

Longevity and Success

Seemingly everything has changed for Wolverine since the beginning. But the ideas born in the garage remain intact. It’s a testament to conviction.

For the company and the Corcoran family, strong relationships and steadfast devotion to their values have been the building blocks. The strategy has not only stood the test of time, it’s bred incredible (and deserved) success.

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