When Palmer Gillis founded Gillis Builders in 1983, his vision was to provide an experienced, affordable and local resource for construction services to customers across Delmarva.
It’s been quite a journey. Thirty-five years and more than 1,500 major construction projects later, the company has grown from a small commercial construction firm to one of the largest, most versatile full-service construction managers & general contractors on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Busy from nearly the moment the doors opened, Palmer soon realized that growth was driving a need to expand staff. In 1985, Palmer sought out Tony Gilkerson, a fellow James M. Bennett High School graduate, to bolster the sales, estimating and project management skills of the business. They then hired Dwight Miller in 1986 and JB Barnes in 1987 as expansion continued.
By 1989 Tony Gilkerson had become a full partner. Their company name was changed to Gillis Gilkerson, Inc., with Palmer Gillis as CEO, Tony Gilkerson as President and Dwight Miller as Vice President. Dick Widgeon also had a role in the company for many years.
During the next two decades, Palmer, Tony, Dwight, JB and the team completed a long list of commercial construction projects from Ocean City to Kent Island MD, Dover DE to Cape Charles VA.
As the company grew, so did the need for office space. In 1994, Gillis Gikerson moved from the old Synagogue Building to the Woolworth’s Building, now known as the Gallery Building, in Salisbury’s downtown business district. Both buildings were historic renovations completed by Gillis Gilkerson.
In 2004, Tony stepped down as president of Gillis Gilkerson, Inc., and Dwight Miller became his replacement. Tony retired from active participation in Gillis Gilkerson in 2005. J.B. Barnes became a principal in 2005. Palmer, Dwight and JB formed the company’s current executive management team.
Gillis Gilkerson broke ground in September, 2014 on the historic renovation of the old Feldman’s Furniture building to convert it into what stands today as River View Commons. The team replaced the roof, reinforced the walls, added stair towers, an elevator and common space, allowing for a total of 20,000 square feet of mixed use and office space. The company currently occupies the 2nd floor of Riverview Commons.
The next generation of executive leaders started joining the ranks in 2017. Tyler Barnes was promoted within the company from Project Manager to Vice President and in 2019, Brad Gillis and Joey and Chris Gilkerson will join the executive board of Gillis Gilkerson. Additionally, Merry Mears, former Director of Worcester County Economic Development, has come on board as Chief Development Officer.
Now celebrating its 35th anniversary, the journey of success continues for Gillis Gilkerson. The team is comprised of professionals who take pride in their work and their ability to find creative solutions to construction challenges. Many employees have worked more than 15 years with the firm, enhancing a tradition of workplace stability with familiar faces that Delmarva residents know and trust. With a focus on client satisfaction and quality construction projects that are on time and within budget, Gillis Gilkerson is proud to be an industry leader in serving repeat and new customers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.