Though there was little fanfare for the grand opening of the Brinker Group’s regional office on East General Robinson Street, there was palpable excitement from the Black business owners and public officials who welcomed the Detroit-based contractor to Pittsburgh.

TO BUILDING BRIDGES—Brinker Group CEO Larry Brinker thanks Pittsburgh for a warm welcome at the Oct. 8 grand opening of his Detroit-based contracting firm’s new regional office on the North Side.

“This is a day of great hope for minority businesses in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County,” said Mark Jones, representing County Executive Dan Onorato. “The Brinker Group has the capacity to do $100 million in bonding. With their commitment, I look forward to the day when we have several large minority-owned companies here that can bid and compete in this market.”

The Brinker Group is comprised of Brinker Team Interiors, Universal Glass & Metals Inc., City Carpet & Flooring and the Brinker Tech Team. Singly or in tandem, Brinker’s group of companies has renovated stadiums and historic hotels, and built new air terminals and hospitals. At any given time, they may employ 250 skilled tradesmen. All these companies are the result of 51-year-old CEO Larry Brinker’s 30 years in contracting and his commitment to quality workmanship and diversity.

Brinker established a foothold here with $1.7 million contract to oversee job safety and logistics management for P.J. Dick/Hunt on the new Pittsburgh Penguins’ Consol Energy Center. He also won a $4.5 million joint-venture partnership contract, also with Dick for the adjoining parking structure.

Clarence Curry, who oversees minority contracting for the Sports and Exhibition Authority, welcomed Brinker with high praise.

“I’m happy to speak for the SEA board, who are all here, and to officially welcome the Brinker Group,” he said. “They served several critical functions on the Consol Center and the garage, and brought them in on time and on budget,” said Curry. “He promised to have a diverse workforce and to use local minority contractors—and he’s delivered on both.”

Hill House Association Executive Director Evan Frazier said he has had several conversations with Brinker about partnerships in the Hill District.

“We’re so excited to work with them because they understand the importance of local hiring and minority hiring,” he said. “I see a very positive relationship with the Brinker Group for the city and the Hill District.”

Brinker said although his firm has not won any additional contracts since the Consol Energy Center, he has made a lot of good contacts.

“We’re involved in different conversations, looking at some partnerships to craft a model that will work for us and to provide opportunities for people here,” he said. “I see my self spending more time here, nursing those contacts.”

After additional welcoming remarks from county Minority Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Director Ruth Byrd-Smith, Pittsburgh Penguins representative Abass Kamara, and Jeff Terconi from P.J. Dick, Brinker thanked the Penguins, and Onorato for making his company’s first foray into the Pittsburgh market a success—but first he thanked his wife for letting him host the gathering on their 20th wedding anniversary.

“This is a very important evening for the Brinker Group because it marks our first time branching out of the Detroit market,” he said, then raising his glass. “We hope our commitment to using local manufacturers and contractors on the Consol center shows we intend to bring value to this community. It is our goal to be not just an excellent contractor, but also a socially conscious contractor. Here’s to building bridges across cultures”

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