John S. Lawrence, 88, passed away March 5. During his career in the metal construction industry, with his business partner, Sam Milnark, Lawrence cofounded Modern Trade Communications Inc., publishers of Metal Building News, Metal Architecture, Metal Home Digest and Metal Building Developer. Metal Building News eventually became Metal Construction News.
The publications were a focal point of the industry and offered promotional opportunities, provided a voice for contractors and architects, and showcased the metal design and construction industry.
Tem McElroy, chairman at McElroy Metal, said, “The use of metal in construction has expanded greatly over the years, and [Lawrence] deserves credit for helping with the growth by spreading the word about metal roofing and siding to his readership. For many years, [Lawrence] and his journals were the lone voice of the metal construction industry and [Lawrence] was viewed as a true partner to metal construction industry manufacturers and suppliers.”
Lawrence’s son, John Paul Lawrence, took the reins of Modern Trade in 2009, but he grew up in the business under his father’s wing. “My father personified the spirit of what it meant to truly be a partner with customers and readers alike,” he said. “He had a meaningful gift that always made someone feel important, a way about him that conveyed their needs truly did matter, and always offered to provide whatever he could to put the needs of their business first. He prided himself on the belief that all customers were treated with equal importance and would always show the highest degree of appreciation and gratitude to all. He showed a genuine interest in others’ businesses, whether it was a manufacturer, a supplier or general building contractor, and this sincere attention derived from an absolute devotion to the metal construction industry. In many ways, he felt it was a duty he assumed as to support and ensure industry growth and prosperity.”
Lawrence was also instrumental in the creation of the Metal Construction Association, and launching METALCON International, the only tradeshow for the metal construction industry.
McElroy said, “My relationship with John began decades ago and I consider him a friend. John was always very active with industry activities and he was instrumental in helping launch the Metal Construction Association.”
For all of his work promoting the metal building and construction industry, Lawrence was inducted into the Metal Construction Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 2012.
Importantly, Metal Architecture established an audience of architects for the metal construction industry. In the announcement of his induction to the Metal Construction Hall of Fame, Lawrence said, “I’m very proud of our selling to the entire market: builders, contractors and design-build contractors. And going across the aisle and bringing architects in, we brought the metal building system in front of the architect.”