The lenders at the Bowery Savings Bank realized they had a problem. A common saying among the bank’s staff at the time was, “Why would criminals rob a bank when they could just walk in with a roll of plans and the bank would give them the money?” To solve the problem of the lack of scrutiny over construction loans, the bankers suggested that John Merritt and his son-in-law, Elliott Harris II, form a company that could watch over the construction loans that the bank was funding. The men heeded the suggestion, and Mr. Merritt and Mr. Harris began a firm that is the first company formed solely for the purpose of monitoring construction loans, thewhereby Construction Monitoring Group was established.
1971 – Elliott Harris’ son, Elliott Harris III, affectionately known to all as Buzz, joined his family’s firm as a project manager. In 1978, he began his lengthy stint as its President & CEO.
Late 1970s – Lenders and institutional investors realized the need for professional evaluations to be performed on the existing buildings they were contemplating purchasing. As a result, Merritt & Harris (M&H) formed a dedicated Property Condition Assessment (PCA) Group.
1991 – The firm opened its first branch office in Glendale, California.
1993 – The firm began monitoring the construction of a string of sports facilities for lenders, sports authorities, teams and bondholders, starting with the construction of Boston’s Fleet Center (now TD Garden). Due to the influx of sports facility work, the firm subsequently established the M&H Sports Group which has reviewed and monitored over 70 professional team stadiums, arenas, ballparks and racetracks.
1996 – Buzz sold his majority stake to seven senior members of the firm. Tom Richard became the new President & CEO.
1997 – The firm then opened its second branch office in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
2010 – A planned succession was executed to allow Tom Richard to semi-retire. Manny Kratsios, a Columbia University educated Civil Engineer with an MBA, who had previously served as the COO, was promoted to President & CEO.
2011 – On January 27th, members of the firm were saddened to learn of the death of their former president, Elliott “Buzz” Harris, who died of cancer at the age of 6ving more than 20 years of service. This is a testimony to the company’s ability to attract and retain people who cherish the values that Buzz established and that the current leadership team has embraced.
2016 – The M&H group was acquired by JLL. This acquisition broadened JLL’s Project and Development Services (PDS) offerings. This acquisition also allowed the M&H group to expand its business, provide a broader platform to its clients, and give employees additional opportunities to continue their professional growth.
The M&H group has continued this tradition of excellence, expanding globally with their Latin America Group, providing best-in-class review and construction monitoring services to U.S.-based lenders in Mexico and Spanish-speaking countries. And their Caribbean Group, ensuring positive critical outcomes for the real estate and investment community in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. They have also grown nationally, establishing specialty services such as the M&H Workout, Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Cost and ADA Groups, assisting lenders and real estate investors with distressed properties. The Plan & Cost Review group is headed by Margaret Asimakis, P.E.
The M&H Group is poised for increased growth with additional regional offices throughout the United States. Today, they have boots on the ground in 14 major cities, and regional offices in the NE, New England, SE, South Central, SW, NW, and North Central regions.