North Carolina’s Oldest General Contractor Celebrates 128 Years

D.J. Rose & Son, Inc.

Today, when many small businesses have long since been sold or offer few opportunities for family members, D. J. Rose & Son, Inc. has endured for 128 years and is thriving. The company was founded in 1890 by his grandfather, David Jeptha Rose, and Dillon Rose Sr. is now third generation president, joined by his son Dillon, Jr. and Bill Marshburn.
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Operating in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, D.J. Rose & Son, Inc. continues to bring its focus on clients and pride in quality to diverse residential and commercial construction projects.

President Dillon W. Rose, Sr. is still as hands-on today as when he joined the company decades ago. “My grandfather started the company in 1890 and my son, Dillon, Jr. is the fourth generation,” he shares. “We’re all involved on the ground, every day.”

The company’s founder and Mr. Rose Senior’s grandfather, David Jeptha Rose, moved to Rocky Mount at the age of 29, and soon saw an opportunity in the general contracting field. “He was very fortunate,” says Mr. Rose. “He worked very hard, and it paid off.”

Indeed, the company, then named D.J. Rose & Company, was soon entrusted with many key projects, building the city’s first electric power plant in 1902, and the May & Gorham Drugstore in 1904. Sam Toler, Sr. joined the firm as partner around this time, and the firm’s projects quickly grew in size and scope. The company constructed substantial structures for clients such as F.S. Royster Fertilizer, and the Atlantic Coastline Railroad –some of the largest and most advanced structures in the area. It completed a plant for Royster’s Baltimore operation in 1910, which measured 1,046 feet by 183 feet, described as the most modern fertilizer plant in the United States at the time. Its work for the company included buildings in Indianapolis, Indiana; Norfolk, Virginia; Jackson, Mississippi; and Toledo, Ohio. It built several schools, city hall, and numerous stores and manufacturing plants in Rocky Mount as well.

David Jeptha Rose passed away in 1940, leaving a large void throughout the South. He was widely recognized as being its leading contractor, and today, his portrait hangs on the founders’ wall in the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors’ headquarters in Raleigh. His passing marked the end of an era, but his sons, Woodall Rose and Dillon J. ‘Toby’ Rose, had joined the company a few years earlier, and were prepared to lead the firm into a new day.

Post-WWII economic growth allowed the company to flourish as it began working on high-profile projects for Carolina Telephone & Telegraph Company throughout Eastern North Carolina. He died unexpectedly in 1961, and for the next thirty-seven years, the company would be headed by President Dewey Weaver. Bill Marshburn, one of the company’s present executives, joined the company in 1964, followed seven years later by Toby’s son, Dillon W. Rose, Sr.

A range of services
Today, D.J. Rose & Son prides itself on meeting client needs; the team has a sixth sense for allocating the appropriate resources, labor, and materials for each project, and works closely with the project design team early in the process to identify ways of reducing client costs. All its projects have dedicated, competent superintendents present at all times and it is through this careful planning, close oversight, and quality craftsmanship that projects are completed on time, on budget, and to the client’s satisfaction.

D.J. Rose & Son offers a range of services, including historic preservation work – a fitting specialty for this long-lived company. They feel the key to historical renovation is maintaining the integrity and character of the original buildings, and keeping in line with not only the local architecture but the historic architecture of the state.

D.J. Rose & Son also brings its expertise to modern commercial projects, including offices, schools, churches, healthcare and medical facilities, retail buildings, and more. In the residential sphere, the company performs renovation, remodeling, and custom home building. It specializes in the high-end home sector, offering large-scale additions, whole-home renovations, outdoor living spaces, renovation of historic homes, upfitting to meet current codes, and structural and foundation work.

A strong team
When it comes to its staff, the Rose firm holds its people in very high esteem. “We keep them and appreciate them. Our staff is treated like we want to be treated ourselves,” says Vice President Dillon W. Rose Jr.

Today, after adapting to the many changes in the construction industry, the company operates with strong management and supervisory teams alongside a number of well-respected craftspeople. All other services are contracted to trusted subcontractors with whom the company has built strong, lasting relationships.

Looking to the future
With such a rich and storied history, it could be tempting for a pedigreed company such as D.J. Rose & Son to rest on its laurels; not so for this dynamic firm. This is a company that values both the past and the future, while engaging and giving back to the broader community. It donated a major collection of historic architectural drawings and other documents to the North Carolina State University Libraries, for example – a collection comprising hundreds of rolls of drawings including works by some of the region’s leading architects for whom most records have otherwise been lost. Now, the team is hard at work on a multi-year project for Rocky Mount Mills, a vibrant live-work-play development on the Tar River, and 2018 will also see the firm undertake a number of substantial residential and commercial projects.

D.J. Rose & Son, being one of North Carolina’s oldest general contracting firms, looks to the future, with the vast experience and an unrivaled focus on quality. We look forward to seeing what the future brings!

Seeing Red

In 2018, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released several of the worst examples of so-called “Red Tape” that businesses and developers need to complete before getting projects off the ground. The list reads almost as a cautionary tale for anyone hoping to get a development, whether a condominium or a warehouse, completed quickly and on time.

December 12, 2019, 3:56 AM EST