Weitz, Iowa's largest contractor, sold to Egyptian conglomerate

Des Moines-based company has office in Cedar Rapids

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Iowa's largest constructor, the Weitz Co. of Des Moines, has agreed to be purchased by Orascom Construction Industries, a† Cairo, Egypt, conglomerate employing more than 72,000 people in 35 countries.

Weitz was founded in 1855 by Charles H. Weitz, who came to Des Moines to find work as a carpenter. Weitz landed his first construction project, a drugstore, within a month and hired a crew of nine men.

Weitz and its Cedar Rapids predecessor, Abell-Howe Co., have been involved in the construction of buildings at ADM Corn Sweeteners, Alliant Energy, Cargill, Construction Materials Inc., International Paper's Cedar River Mill and Red Star Yeast in Cedar Rapids, Vector Corp. in Marion and the Meskwaki Hotel in Tama, among other projects.

Hy-Vee Weitz, a separate division of the Weitz Co., constructed Hy-Vee Food Stores on Wilson Avenue SW, Edgewood Road NE and the expanded the Hy-Vee at Oakland Road and 32nd Street NE.

Weitz, with offices in northeast Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida,† Hawaii, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Washington and Guam, has three core business lines: commercial, federal, and industrial construction.

The employee-owned company generated $681.5 million of revenue in 2011 and, before the recent economic downturn, had annual revenues in excess of $1.5 billion.

Weitz, ranked in the top 50 on†Engineering News Recordís Top 400 Contractors list, had a backlog of $787.7 million as of June 30.† Federal projects represented 51 percent, commercial projects 36 percent and industrial projects 13 percent of the backlog.

All of Weitzís current management and employees will be retained following the acquisition by OCI.

Watts Constructors, a California-based subsidiary of Weitz, and†the federal business line of Weitz will be combined with Contrack International, a subsidiary of† OCI, to expand its geographical reach into the Pacific Rim and Guam. Contrack International pursues federal projects overseas, primarily in the Middle East and Central Asia.

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