Community Organization Calls on Ronnisch to Build the Stafford Education Center

Ronnisch Construction Group based in Royal Oak, MI is helping SAY PLAY Detroit expand their current facility to provide more learning space and opportunities to the community. The Kelly and Matthew Stafford & Friends Education Center will not only expand SAY Detroit Play Center’s physical size, but the services it can offer to a broader community — all made possible by one million dollar gifts each from Matthew and Kelly Stafford, the A.A. Van Eslander Foundation, and Clarence & Jack Himmel Foundation. And of course, from more than 1,000 individual donors across Michigan who are invested in the success of the students who attend the premier learning center. The project includes a 15,000 square-foot annex that will house additional classrooms, learning labs and a theater which will feature insulated concrete blocks.

“We make involvement in our communities a priority at Ronnisch Construction and when we heard about this project, I knew we had to be a part of this job,” said president Bernie Ronnisch. SAY Detroit is an incredible organization, which is why we’re honored to be working here every day, but we were so inspired seeing their dedication to the students, we got together with our subcontractors and Ronnisch Construction Group is leading by example and donating back to the organization.”
At SAY Detroit Play Center at Lipke Park, after-school students commit to earning a 3.0 GPA and enjoy first-rate academic, athletic and arts programs in partnership with Detroit’s major sports teams. Since opening its doors in 2015, SAY PLAY is revitalizing and empowering one of Detroit’s most challenged and underserved neighborhoods. Situated on nearly 15 acres in the Osborn community in northeast Detroit, the facility was formerly an abandoned City of Detroit recreation center until it was targeted by SAY Detroit to become a motivational learning center for Detroit youth with academics as its cornerstone.
“We could not be more impressed with the work done by Ronnisch — they have demonstrated absolute professionalism while here and have a real passion for working on this project,” said SAY Detroit executive director Rick Kelley. “It’s a pleasure to see these guys on site each day helping bring our dream to fruition. We are so close to giving these kids what they want and deserve.”
The team is finishing the steel and roof of the annex, and plans to start the interior soon. The goal is to wrap up the project at the beginning of December so SAY Detroit can fully move in and start using it in the new year.
“We’re keeping the build really simple for two reasons,” said Armen Derderian, project manager at Ronnisch. “First, it allows us to not waste money on complicated designs and materials. Second, it keeps our crews moving with minimal design changes so we can stick to our promised deadline. We’re 100% focused on getting these kids in this new space
by 2024.”
Derderian continued saying that despite this being a standard building, the impact it will have puts this as one of their top projects for the company.
“Weekly meetings with Rick and his team have become a highlight for my week because they’re a very comfortable group to work with. We keep them updated on our progress, they let us know any changes they want along the way and it helps us stay connected the entire time so there’s no surprises for either party at the end,” Derderian said. “Through these meetings though, it’s always so great giving them a progress update. You can really feel the appreciation and excitement through every step.”
Ronnisch Construction Group was founded in 1994 by Bernie Ronnisch with the main goal of redefining the reputation of the building industry. They are headquartered in Royal Oak, and specialize in a variety of commercial projects. To learn more about them or to get in touch, visit To learn more about or get involved with SAY Play Detroit, visit