Grand Rapids is home to many families who have long served the Grand Rapids community. While some have arenas, health care centers, natural areas and foundations named after them—and for that we as a city are most grateful—there are other businesses that have supported families and communities through the generations and continue to play key roles in West Michigan.
While some businesses build, others demolish to make way for growth. Pitsch Companies, begun in 1958 by Loren Pitsch Sr. as Pitsch Wrecking, cleared away homes demolished to make way for the construction of U.S. 131. Pitsch also tore down the old Kresge Building, the Civic Auditorium, the old Ottawa Hills High School, and untold numbers of houses across the area.
“We have been an integral part of Grand Rapids development,” said Steve Pitsch, youngest of the eight children of Loren and Arlene Pitsch and now president of Pitsch Companies. “When we see new buildings go up, that means growth. We’ve torn down most of the buildings for that growth. You can’t grow and build new without getting rid of the old.”
Pitsch remembers as a young child helping strip out houses
after school, anything salable sold at a resale store in Byron Center, the original location of Pitsch Wrecking. After buying out Capital Lumber and Wrecking, Pitsch moved to its present location on Richmond Street NW in the 1970s. Now the company offers asbestos abatement, recycling, concrete crushing, its own landfill, dumpster services, and more.
“We’re the original recycler,” said Pitsch. “There is always going to be stuff to be torn down.”