The Founder – Leroy Ozanne
The Ozanne/Auzenne family traces its lineage from 13th century France through 18th century New Orleans and Southwest Louisiana. The family tree is full of carpenters, plasterers, and masons. This is the heritage of Leroy Ozanne, who arrived on the shores of Lake Erie by way of Texas after his honorable discharge from the US Navy in 1946. He was one of Cleveland’s first African American building inspectors. He developed relationships with builders, architects, engineers, and city officials. With a keen intellect, boundless energy, and a growing family, it wasn’t long before Leroy expanded his side work as a contractor into a fulltime business. He incorporated Ozanne Construction Company in Cleveland in1956.
Leroy was a pioneer in an era and region that was often inhospitable — to say the least — to his aspirations. Fortunately, his inbred sense of self-confidence was fortified with a heavy dose of skill and stubbornness [a trait not unknown to successful contractors] that allowed him to overcome obstacles.
His goal was to become a commercial general contractor capable of competing openly in both public and private markets throughout northeast Ohio. After just 2 years in business, Ozanne Construction had won contracts to construct Gulf Oil and Sinclair filling stations and had a $30,000 bonding line. As of 1965 Ozanne Construction had built the Brooklyn, Ohio Fire Station, a branch bank for Cleveland Trust, and a transfer station for Ohio Bell. These successes led Turner Construction Company in 1967 to invite Ozanne to joint venture the construction of the Martin Luther King, Jr. shopping plaza on Cleveland’s east side. This was the first such relationship between an African American construction firm and an international construction manager in American history.
The company’s continued successes enabled Ozanne to become signatory to union agreements with the Cleveland area Carpenters and Laborers unions. The company was invited to join the Building Trades Employers Association (now the Construction Employers Association, or CEA) and the Associated General Contractors of America.
Leroy laid the foundation for the company’s future success. Ozanne has grown to become one of America’s largest and most successful construction companies, doing business throughout the Midwest and Southwest Louisiana. In 2016 Leroy was recognized by CEA as a CEA Guardian and member of its Hall of Fame.
Leroy Ozanne achieved his goal. He founded and built a successful general contracting and construction management firm based on ethics, hard work, skill, and a commitment to excellence. “We can and will compete against anybody.”