Powered by Stewardship
Building a culture of stewardship and humbleness is a Union corporation’s biggest point of pride.
Loretta Rosenmayer’s city friends took bets on how long she’d last in Crystal Lake. Chicago born and raised, Rosenmayer was a “hip, savvy” woman in her 30s when she transplanted from the city to McHenry County. “I fell in love,” she recalled. “I loved the peacefulness of the small town.”
In the years since she set foot here, 25 of them have been at the helm of INTREN Inc., a Union-headquartered construction firm that completes a multitude of projects and services for gas and electrical utility companies nationwide.
Today, Rosenmayer, founder and CEO, is focused on not only leading her company to continued success through best safety and quality practices, but being a leader in community stewardship in McHenry County and beyond.
Under ComEd’s Wing
INTREN’s rise to success was all about timing, tenacity and delivery.
1988 didn’t start out as the best year for the Rosenmayers. The family was facing financial woes and Loretta’s husband, Daniel, was ill. But they had a vision. Under the name Trench-It, the Rosenmayers and a crew of four people began providing some landscaping and trenching work for rural properties and homeowners.
Meanwhile, in the utilities industry, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) could not keep up with the demand to install power to all of the new homes during the westward housing market boom.
“They were looking for small, localtrenching contractors,” Rosenmayer said. ComEd found just that in Trench-It and things made a positive turn for the Rosenmayers.
“[ComEd] respected me, they mentored me, they challenged me, they cared,” she explained. “They instilled in us a focus on quality and safety. We’ve diversified due to ComEd. When I give a speech about my company, I always say, this is the company ComEd built.”
After four years of working with Trench-It, ComEd also encouraged the company to become a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE). Ever since, INTREN has beenWBE-certified and WBENC-certified through the Women’s Business Development Center and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.
Rosenmayer encourages other women-run firms to become WBEs and believes it’s a company’s ability to deliver on its performance — not the gender of its leadership — that propels a company. She feels particularly proud of the utilities industry, which she says has been “open to women.”
Evolving Into INTREN
From a small group, INTREN grew in numbers and capabilities by hiring “the very best” people to meet its growing demands. Timing also came into play when attracting this talent — the company benefited from a pool of early retirees in the utilities industry at the time.
Perfect timing and a key relationship with ComEd opened many doors for INTREN, which changed its name in 2009 to combine “integrity” (one of the company’s core values) with “tren,” taking from the name Trench-It. However, it remains Rosenmayer and her group’s tenacity that continues to see its partnership with ComEd through projects to this day. In addition to ComEd, INTREN works with other large utilities and private corporations nationwide, including We Energies, Ameren Energy, Peoples Gas, Nicor Gas Co., Power Construction LLC, Pepper Construction, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., MidAmerican Energy, Duke Construction and many others.
Executive Vice President Matthew Turk, who’s been with INTREN for 22 years, knows the company’s culture of tenacity firsthand. “Loretta would drive to customers’ sites at 6:30 a.m. and ask what she could be doing better and what she needed to do to be as good as the best,” he recalled. “It’s all about keeping connected,” which INTREN did with four employees and continues to do with 880.
Rosenmayer has instilled this value of connecting with customers into fellow executives, who must visit sites twice monthly to conduct project audits, explained Turk.
Rosenmayer is “grateful for all of the people,” she said — employees of all levels, past and present. “It’s a wonderful place comprised of humble people who outperform every day,” she added.
“Prevention is Production”
INTREN’s ability to deliver on a diverse range of projects has garnered it a respectable list of customers from coast to coast, but safety is always the No. 1 goal, “even if [a project] takes longer,” Rosenmayer said.
This dedication to safety above all else has earned it accolades in the industry. In 2000, it received the Golden Backhoe Award from the Julie Corporation for damage prevention in the State of Illinois for utility/underground work.
“There were serious problems with locates at the time [we received the award],” she recalled. “There was not an intense focus on safety.”
Instead of quietly accepting the award at the ceremony, Rosenmayer took the microphone and said, “We are the knowers of the danger involved in this work and with that knowing comes grave responsibility.”
“We earned a lot of respect [for that speech],” she said, adding, “It’s a serious, dangerous industry. We are determined that all the men and women who go out in to the field will return safely every day.”
Culture of Stewardship
Before discussing her company’s rise to success, the many key projects under its belt, the accolades, the bright future ahead, Rosenmayer talks about the importance of being a “humble servant.” For INTREN, stewardship “is a way of life.”
“It’s important to give back,” Rosenmayer said.
The company is highly involved with charities that support environmental sustainability, education, health and wellness, and diversity.
In fact, for its 25th anniversary this summer at the Sanfilippo Place De La Musique, Rosenmayer, in the spirit of stewardship, wanted to “make this celebration representitive of the INTREN culture.”
With the recommendation of friend David Warren of Crystal Lake, INTREN and 250 friends and customers fundraised that day for the Interfaith Committee of Detained Immigrants, which advocates for detained immigrants who are often lacking resources.
“We all have many different opinions about immigration,” Rosenmayer said. “But this is not about our position on immigration, but our position on compassion and doing the right thing.”
With an aging and failing U.S. infrastructure — some systems that are 50 to 60 years old — there is and will continue to be need for improved and new electrical and gas utilities for years to come.
INTREN will be there to deliver on these needs — big and small, simple or complex, short-term projects or those with a long timeline — with the promise to “take on clients’ priorities and exceed their expectations,” Rosenmayer said, “not as a contractor, but as a partner.”
Today, with high demand for its capabilities, 880 employees strong and with Rosenmayer’s son Lance as president, she believes INTREN will continue to grow. “As more people want to work with us, we plan to choose carefully and grow prudently while protecting our culture of stewardship,” she said.
Called to Serve
Loretta Rosenmayer is a lifelong steward. “I felt the call to serve as a young girl,” she recalled.
Growing up in a matriarchal family, she’s always had strong women in her life. Her mother took in young women in need.
A mother of all boys, it was important to Rosenmayer to have women in her home, too.
When adoption was not available to her, fostering children was a wonderful option for the family. Now, 20 children, the majority of whom were girls, have been fostered by the Rosenmayers.
“I am a planter of seeds,” Rosenmayer said. “Planting the seeds” of success was her philosophy when caring for the children.
But it wasn’t always easy. “When the doorbell rings, what you see is not always what you get,” she admitted. “They bring their emotional baggage and their losses with them. You need the courage to create and enforce clear boundaries with compassion and love.”
Today, she remains in contact with many of her former foster children and continues to advocate for foster children. A painting of one of the young women hangs in the hallway of INTREN’s office.
INTREN actively supports many charities nationwide. Here at home in McHenry County, it’s involved with the following nonprofits:
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County
- CASA of McHenry County
- Home of the Sparrow
- It’s All About Kids
- Light Center Foundation
- McHenry County PADS
- Pioneer Center for Human Services
- Raue Center For The Arts
- Turning Point of McHenry County
- United Way of Greater McHenry County