1950 – Founders Ed Corcoran, Francis O’Connor and Floyd Weaver spent a 2 hour, 80 miles, commute with each other driving to work at Ford’s Detroit Facility for General Motors. They passed the time by discussing work, the poor work ethic of fellow workers and how they would run a company if they owned one.
1958 – In October Ed, Francis and Floyd founded the enterprise they called Wolverine Fire Protection Co. After the first project was completed, Floyd decided that being in business wasn’t for him, and the other two partners bought him out.
The beginning held many struggles for the company. From being contacted by a pushy union labor rep, early on, claiming there wasn’t room in the industry, to taking out bank loans with their homes as collateral, they found a way to make it work. The company grew as a “family affair” as Ed Corcoran and wife, Faith, raised 11 boys who would work weekends and after school in the company’s shop making hangars and fabricating pipe from a young age. Faith served as their book keeper and accountant in the early years, and would work from their kitchen table. Francis would run the company’s engineering operations as Ed attended to sales and installation. Later, Faith’s 14 year old niece, Maria, was hired as temporary summer help to work in the office. She became the CFO and dedicated 40 years of her career until her 2005 retirement.
They believed in innovation, even from the beginning, and used it as a way to lower costs and be competitive. Even though they had cash flow struggles in the early years, Ed made sure to run the business according to an inherent set of Christian values and “The Golden Rule”. At times, this meant that family members might go weeks without a paycheck so that they could pay other employees, suppliers and subcontractors.
They made sure to maintain business relationships that resulted in jobs in the early years. The founders also admitted to reading the latest industry journals and requesting information on new products so they could always stay ahead of their competitors. Ed and Francis made sure to always put importance on family as well. They worked a lot, but would make sure to make time for family and summer vacations “up north” in Michigan.
1965 -Wolverine moved from the Corcoran family garage to a local farmer’s barn in a field in town and then to its present location on Dort Highway in 1965. Also this year, Wolverine Fire Protection Co. becomes a corporation in Michigan on May 21, 1965.
1973 -Francis O’Connor decided to leave the company and retire to northern Michigan. An agreement was made to buy Francis’ share of the company and become a solely owned company. From there Wolverine Fire Protection continued to grow and expand.
Late 1970’s -Additions were made to the Dort Highway building to support the growing company.
1982 -Wolverine Fire Protection Co. purchased Smith Automatic Sprinkler Company in Connecticut. Ed Corcoran saw it as a way to expand into another geographical area with a company that was already established and practiced in that area.
1986 -The Detroit office location is opened to compete in this geographical area. It grew to be one of the top fire protection companies in the region. Business dropped somewhat after the building boom of the 1990’s ended, but they are still a viable profit center for the business and are looking for future growth as construction picks back up.
1990 -The company made the decision to diversify its markets by working on government contracts. This helped protect from cyclic business tendencies of the automotive industry, as the government seems to slow spending less in downturns than do other sectors. It proved to be a successful move for the company, and we continue to perform large amounts of work on federal contracts.
1991 -The board of directors voted to appoint Marty Corcoran (son of Ed) to the position of President, which he continues to hold, after his father suffered health problems and began to lessen his involvement in the day-to-day operations of the business. At this point, Marty was supported by a team that would include all 10 of his brothers, each holding responsible positions in the company.
2006 -Wolverine took advantage of the building boom occurring in Las Vegas in 2006 by opening an office location there.
2008 -Wolverine Fire Protection Co. celebrates its 50th year of business. It was being operated under second-generation leadership and many third-generation family members employed.
2011 -Wolverine expands into the California market by opening an office in the southern California / LA region.
2012 – Wolverine opens new office in New York in support of anticipated high construction growth in the region.