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Beyond Bricks and Mortar: Building Ashland

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When Jim Cutright (Cutty) first took a job in Ashland back in 1980, Simonson Construction was just getting its start. As a longstanding friend of Bob Simonson’s, Cutty has had a front-row seat to all of the ways Simonson has contributed to the life and foundation of Ashland.

Cutty served for thirty years as the COO of Guenther Mechanical, frequently working with Simonson as a subcontractor before retiring from that role and joining the Ashland County Community Foundation (ACCF) as its President and CEO in 2012. There have been many projects that Simonson Construction has managed during the time Cutty has been at ACCF, but several projects in particular stand out to him as especially noteworthy.


In 2018, Simonson worked with Cutty on the Ashland County Community Foundation building addition that enhanced their current office facility with a beautiful, yet functional space.

“It is important that people recognize us as being an anchor institution [in the community],” Cutty said. “That presence gives a sense of permanence and inspires confidence in what we do here.”

The Foundation holds endowments for permanent sustainability for our community’s nonprofit organizations. The ACCF office expansion created additional office space for staff members and improved accessibility. The teams worked together to design a space that would accommodate their current needs while anticipating future growth.

“Simonson made the process easy and affordable and the way they designed it, inside and out, most people today don’t realize it was added nearly 50 years after the original building was constructed.”

The Salvation Army Kroc Center

Simonson has served as the general contractor for both the original Kroc Center building as well as the new expansion that includes a waterpark, fitness center, and community rooms. But even before they had the opportunity to bid on the project, “Simonson was on the ground, working with the Salvation Army team to secure the funding and dream big dreams for what the Kroc Center expansion could do for our community,” Cutty said.

Team members, especially Dustin Beattie, who chaired the committee, worked hard to prepare a proposal for the Salvation Army headquarters in order to secure over $7 million in funds remaining from Joan Kroc’s original gift.

“It’s truly a jewel in our community,” Cutty said. “Without Simonson’s experience and resources, the Salvation Army’s funding would have gone elsewhere.”

Construction of the new expansion is about far more than recreation and fun, which of course is important too. The waterpark and fitness center memberships make it possible for the Kroc Center to expand their impact in the community, providing support for social services, food services, and the other vital needs that are met by the Salvation Army in our community.

“What a resource this was to our community throughout the pandemic,” said Cutty. “So many basic human necessities were met by the Kroc Center during that time.”

Childcare Center

The ACCF Women’s Fund was created in 2004 to create a permanent legacy that enhances the lives of women in Ashland County. As the steering committee for this fund began to evaluate their goals, they looked at what barriers were holding women back in our community. Chief among them was a lack of affordable and accessible childcare.

Together, the Women’s Fund Steering Committee and Kristin Aspin, Chief Program Officer at ACCF, began dreaming and raising additional funds to supplement what currently existed. Then they got bolder and began dreaming of a new childcare center.

“The concept has been embraced by the community at-large,” said Cutty. “Employers benefit from it to attract and retain employees,” in addition to the obvious support such a center will provide young families in Ashland.

Foundations Community Childcare Inc., a new nonprofit created out of this dream, will own and operate this new childcare center. The 14,000-square-foot facility in the industrial park on Ford Drive will be able to accommodate 150 children.

“Simonson was instrumental in helping to design the building and visualize how those needs could best be met,” Cutty said. “They have facilitated all of the conversations. It is great to observe how good they have been at drawing out information from those who will be owning and operating it, researching codes and regulations for childcare facilities, and making certain that it will be a huge success.”

“Like the Kroc Center, you can have a vision for something, but you have to have someone who can understand how to execute that vision,” Cutty said. “Simonson makes it seem amazingly easy, and it is not.”

The capital campaign for the building is already complete, and Simonson will likely break ground in March or April. The building should be finished by year end.

Beyond these specific projects, it’s almost impossible to count the number of Simonson buildings around town that have made an impact on the way we live and work in Ashland. From Ashland University’s campus to Brethren Care Village and beyond, Simonson is proud of its work, but we’re even more proud to see the work that organizations are doing within those walls to improve our community. We’re grateful for the longstanding partnerships with organizations like ACCF to be able to play a part in the larger work these organizations accomplish everyday.

“Simonson is in the business of housing some of our most important agencies in the community,” Cutty said.

And we plan to stay in that business for many years to come.

If you’re ready to build, renovate, or envision the future of your organization’s facilities, we’re ready to dream with you. Start planning with us today.

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