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Our History

Family-owned for three generations, dating back to 1957.

Celebrating over 65 years in the construction industry by continuously designing excellence and building trust.
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Humble Roots, Solid Foundation

The 65th anniversary of MSI General Corporation is an opportunity to reflect on the history and growth of MSI General. From its humble roots as a pre-engineered building dealer in the 1960s to what it is today—a prominent design/build commercial construction general contractor in southeastern Wisconsin.


Anchored by our five core values of integrity, commitment, trust, passion, and teamwork, we endorse the importance of family and community service. In the words of Dirk Debbink, our Chairman and CEO, “Time has really taught me that the more you give, the more you get back in ways you never could have imagined.”


Founded in 1957 by Claude Debbink and his son Pete under the name Metal Structures Inc., MSI was one of the first of its kind, a fully integrated design/build company in Wisconsin. Dirk Debbink started working around 13 years old in “the shop” located in the carriage barn on his family’s property.


From the years 1963 to 1974, the company operated out of downtown Oconomowoc at the four corners, where Pete Debbink’s office overlooked the busy intersection. The Debbink family business moved to Nashotah in the year 1974 and officially changed its name from Metal Structures Inc. to MSI General Corporation in 1976.


Dirk officially joined the MSI General team in 1983 and was appointed president eight years later. In addition to working for and running MSI General, Dirk sustained a distinguished naval career, both active and reserve. He is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering. From 2007 to 2012, he served as Chief of the Navy Reserve and retired as a Three-Star Navy Vice Admiral. Throughout the years of balancing his family life and community service, Dirk has successfully led the growth and development of MSI General.


In 2017, we completely renovated our offices in Nashotah. In October 2021, Dirk Debbink began transitioning to the next generation of company leadership by announcing two additional shareholders: Ken Krahe, President, and John Kutz, VP of Sales, both long-standing team members.


Focusing on strategic company growth while maintaining the commitment to excellence Dirk and his father have firmly established, MSI General is stronger than ever. Dirk, Ken and John are positively aligned with our trademarked company motto: Designing Excellence, Building Trust.


MSI General prides itself on being both family-centered and client-focused. We embrace the future by guaranteeing the visions we build and the work we perform for our clients. Determined to make our client partnership experience enjoyable and productive, we passionately refer to our five core values and our team approach as The MSI General Way.

Timeline

1957
Metal Structures Inc. is founded in Oconomowoc, WI by Claude Debbink and his son Pete at their family home.

1963
Moved office to downtown Oconomowoc.

1965
Richard R. Bertrand joins Metal Structures Inc.

1974
Moved office to current Nashotah location.

1976
Changed company name to MSI General Corporation as business expanded beyond metal structures.

MSI General shop facility constructed in Hartland, WI.

1983
Dirk Debbink, Pete’s son, joins the team.

1986
Richard Bertrand becomes President of MSI General.

1991
Pete Debbink retires, Dirk Debbink becomes President, and Richard Bertrand becomes CEO.

Single Source Responsibility™ is trademarked.

1998
MSI General renovates Nashotah office.

1999
Designing Excellence. Building Trust.™ is trademarked.

2007
Dirk becomes Chairman of MSI General as he is called back to active duty for the Navy.

2013
Dirk Debbink retires from the Navy and returns to MSI General as the chairman.

2017
MSI General celebrates 60th anniversary and completely renovates interior of office.

2017 thru 2021
The Milwaukee Business Journal awards MSI General each year:

  • Top Veteran-Owned Firm
  • Top Architecture Firm
  • Top Construction Firm