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In 1877, Herman Wohlsen left Germany as a 16-year-old carpenter and settled in Central Pennsylvania where he began to apply his craft.
In 1890, in Lancaster, he began to build what became Wohlsen Construction Company (Wohlsen). Today, Wohlsen is a Construction Manager, General Contractor, and Design/Builder, serving Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey—focusing on senior living, education, healthcare, and commercial markets. The “Wohlsen Works” tagline emphasizes a relentless pursuit of excellence, service, and results for its clients, employees and community.
For 26 years, Gary Langmuir has been strategically leading Wohlsen as the company’s President and CEO. When asked his thoughts about his long career with Wohlsen he stated, with a smile and pause, “I’ve been working in the same hallway for 35 years, I thought about that for a brief moment and then went back to work.” In 1980, he started working for the company and over time purchased it from the Wohlsen family—the last of whom sold his interest in 2002.
Langmuir grew up in Springfield, Delaware County, and studied business at the University of Colorado. “This job is the best of both worlds. I’ve combined my interest in buildings, real estate and leading a successful business. I’ve had the opportunity to spend my life doing both,” he says, seated inside Wohlsen’s headquarters on Steel Way.
The Wohlsen operations center at 1295 Manheim Pike was completed late spring of 2011 after acquiring then renovating the property. The 18,000-square-foot reuse space is LEED Silver certified—representing Wohlsen’s commitment to sustainability, including a rooftop solar array. The new center displays Wohlsen’s many awards. The most recent was the C. Emlen Urban Award in Restoration/Adaptive Reuse from the Lancaster County Preservation Trust for renovations to the home of Excentia’s Life Enrichment Program.
Langmuir’s core values, both personally and professionally, are founded on responsibility, stewardship, and integrity. Much like Langmuir’s own identity, Wohlsen doesn’t have to shout its accomplishments. Rather, it completes the job and looks toward the future—honoring the history that came before it, envisioning the future that will come after it, and standing humbly in an infrastructure of legacy. Now that’s a commitment to craft.
How do you give back?
I have participated on many Board of Directors including serving as the Chair of St. Joseph Hospital. I’m currently on the board of Messiah College, Lancaster Country Day School, and serve as the chairman of the PA State Chamber. As a member of the Order of Malta, I volunteer at Catholic Workers House and St. Anne’s Retirement Community. Recently I was able to work with others in Lancaster to help the Arch Street Center relocate to their new home.
Book you're currently reading?
I tend to read business books or detective novels.
I don’t really listen to music. I once went in for an MRI on my knee and they asked me what music I listened to and I asked if they had talk radio.
What's something you're proud of?
In the last two years I lost about 130 pounds. It’s interesting when people I know don’t recognize me.
How do you relax?
I like to spend time with my wife and my grown daughter and son. I also travel to Canada for bass fishing and Alaska and Montana for fly-fishing.
What makes Lancaster feel like home (aside from your family)?
A number of years ago, we had been away and my son had been asleep for hours, we were almost home and he stretched out and said “Smells like home.” Lancaster has its own unique smells.Seriously, the diversity of Lancaster’s communities, its local arts and markets and its proximity to major urban cities provide the best of all worlds.
What's something that makes you happy?
Something that makes both my wife and I happy is when you watch the friendship of your children. From a business point of view, it’s those times when we truly exceed the commitments we’ve made to our clients and they positively express that their decision to use Wohlsen on their projects was a good one. I also love to see the young people grow and develop their skills and become the future leaders. I’ve obviously had plenty of opportunity and I like to share those opportunities with others.
Something people wouldn't know about you?
My involvement in developing various projects in Lancaster City. At one time I owned 20 properties on both the 600 block of West Walnut and on the 200 block of Elm Streets. We renovated them one by one and sold them, with the majority going to the tenants or first time-homebuyers.
One mentor or friend who helped you?
Jack Goetz. He was our bonding agent. He was a true gentleman and a true professional. He really taught me how to be an ethical businessman.