Building Through Four Generations

It's a good bet that, for D. J. Rose & Son, Inc., the true measure of a general-contracting firm’s success is its longevity. The Rocky Mount, North Carolina-based firm—so named for its founder, David Jeptha Rose—was established in 1890, will celebrate 125 years of construction experience in 2015, and now employs a fourth generation of the Rose clan. The firm’s current partners, William Marshburn, Dillon Rose Sr., and Dillon Rose Jr., attribute this staying power to a focus on clients and consistency. “We’ve been operating continuously since 1890, and we’ve done a little bit of everything over the years,” Marshburn says. “Our reputation is built on repeat customers and service to those customers.”

Because of its commitment to this philosophy, D. J. Rose & Son is now powered by a full-time staff of 18, an annual revenue of $5 million, and a deep-rooted relationship with the region’s best subcontractors. The firm continues to work on a variety of small- and large-scale residential, commercial, and public projects throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia—a project load comparable to the one it began with at the turn of the 20th century.

David Jeptha Rose

1890–1918: D. J. rose & company gets its legs

David Jeptha Rose, a lifelong builder, relocates from Johnston County to Rocky Mount to establish his new business. In 1900, he opens offices on Rose Street, partnering with fellow builder S. S. Toler until 1910. The company oversees notable projects such as the city’s first electric power plant in 1901 and the Bank of Rocky Mount (right) in 1918.

1925–1930: a license and a name change

In 1925, the firm earns its unlimited, unclassified general contracting license in North Carolina. Then, with the war well behind them, Rose’s sons, Ira Woodall Rose and Dillon Jeptha Rose, join the firm in 1930, and it is renamed D. J. Rose & Sons. “This was a time when the firm really started to pick up a lot of work,” Dillon Sr. says. “Royster Fertilizer was one of our largest customers; we built plants up the East Coast to Baltimore and down to central Florida.”

1940: leadership changes hands

After 50 years in the industry, David passes and leaves the operations of the company to Ira and Dillon. Under Dillon’s leadership, the firm earns projects throughout the eastern United States for clients such as Carolina Telephone & Telegraph and Atlantic Coastline Railroad. “Dillon was given a deferment from serving in the army because these contracts, especially with the railroad, were part of a strategic business,” Dillon Sr. says.


1950: a new concrete division

With Ira in failing health, Dillon takes over all operations, renaming the business D. J. Rose & Son since only one son still works there. Business booms in tandem with postwar growth, and the company opens a ready-mix concrete division (left). “One of the reasons we created this division was because Dillon became tired of waiting for the concrete,” Marshburn says.

1961: dillon passes

The second-generation leader of the family company dies unexpectedly, leaving the operations of the business to Dewey Weaver, Norman Chambliss Jr., and A. Hicks, who first joined the company in 1949, 1953, and 1958, respectively.

1964–1971: a third generation of leaders

William “Bill” Marshburn, one of the present leaders at D. J. Rose & Son, joins in 1964, and in 1971 Dillon Sr. joins, marking the third generation of family involvement. The company completes projects for financial institutions and the pharmaceutical industry, and it continues working with Carolina Telephone. “We were doing a lot of the local industry work in town,” Dillon Sr. says, “including a lot of the tobacco-processing-plant and financial [work]—but the telephone work is what really kept us busy.”

1980–1990: 100 years of service

Under the leadership of Weaver, business continues to prosper as the firm celebrates its centennial. “Rocky Mount was doing really well at this time, so it was good for us,” Marshburn says.

1998: Weaver retires, a division is sold

After almost 50 years with D. J. Rose & Son, Weaver retires. Dillon Sr. assumes presidency of the company, and Marshburn is promoted to secretary and treasurer. Around the same time, the company sells its long-standing ready-mix concrete division. “There were two other concrete plants in town,” Dillon Sr. says. “It didn’t make sense for us to keep this division.”

2000: Dillon jr. joins

Dillon Jr. enters the company, becoming the fourth generation of the Rose family in the business. The firm’s workload stays constant. “We still had a lot of telephone and financial work at this time, though the rail work went away,” Dillon Sr. says. The firm also completes several HUD, custom residential, industrial, and historical-renovation projects.

2010–Present: dillon jr. is named vice president

Having weathered more than a century of industry fluctuations, D. J. Rose & Son perseveres through the economic downturn as Dillon Jr. steps into a senior position with the firm in 2010. “There’s great pride in having a fourth generation in the business,” Dillon Sr. says.

Now, the firm looks ahead to 2015, its 125th anniversary. Until then, it continues to seek out new business. “Our future success is dependent upon . . . the development of new client relationships,” Dillon Jr. says. ABQ