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After 40 years, founder prepares to pass construction business to next generation

After 40 years, founder prepares to pass construction business to next generation

  • Michael Delp will transfer M. J. Delp Construction to son-in-law Ryan Noll at the end of 2022.
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After 40 years of fabricating custom steel and pouring flawless concrete, Michael Delp is handing over his Dover-based business, M. J. Delp Construction, to the next generation.

Mike always knew he was meant for the construction trade. Artistically minded, he has a skill for visualizing solutions that others don’t see. He molds steel and concrete to make those visions a reality for his customers.

He studied welding at the York County School of Technology in the 1970s and began working in the field while still in high school.

While employed with a contractor in 1981, Mike helped on his first concrete job. The fields of steel and concrete came together for him.

“I realized that concrete has a lot of different challenges,” Mike says, “and I thought, wow, this would be pretty neat to get into.”

A year later, Mike launched his steel fabrication and concrete company.

Aiding orphans

A man of faith, Mike always felt that his skills were meant to be shared. Twenty years ago, he began taking an annual trip to an orphanage in Guatemala, where he works sunup to sundown welding, pouring concrete, and bringing hope to kids who have nothing.

Three years ago, he asked for something in return. Mike and his wife, Melody, didn’t know what the future held for their business, so they asked the kids at the orphanage to pray about what they should do next.

What happened wasn’t something that either of them were expecting.

Cuisine to concrete

Not long after that trip, Mike’s daughter and son-in-law, Heather and Ryan Noll, said they wanted to buy the business. They also wanted to continue the work at the orphanage.

Ryan always thought he’d own a business, but he never imagined it would be in construction because he was a chef. He had attended culinary school, then spent a decade working as a sous-chef at the White Rose Bar & Grill and in corporate dining.

When he and wife Heather started a family, they knew it was time for a change. The couple couldn’t get the idea of taking over Mike’s business out of their minds. Ryan had one stipulation, though: He wanted to start at the bottom and work his way up.

For the past three years, Ryan has shadowed every job at M. J. Delp Construction, from cleaning concrete forms to finishing concrete to bidding on projects, earning the respect of the company’s employees and customers along the way.

On the surface, contracting seemed completely different from Ryan’s culinary work. But building relationships with staff and customers as a chef also was common to construction. And the enjoyment of watching his concrete and steel clients see their visions become reality matches the satisfaction he experienced as customers savored his culinary specialties.

A vision for the future

Through the decades, Mike made a habit of getting his hands dirty at every job site and keeping his team small. Ryan is excited about growing the business and plans to expand custom welding fabrication and systemize procedures such as employee training.

As the company evolves, Ryan plans to hold tight to M. J. Delp’s foundation of faith and integrity.

“It’s the values that encompass the company and make it what it is and what it’s been for 40 years,” Ryan says.