by Richard Mize
Gather yourself before walking into DRG’s new corporate headquarters — and not because you might catch the cutting edge of mission- critical air defense training and logistics.
No, but because you might feel swept back a century or more over several cultures.
From the D in the company name, for Delaware — the tribe, not the state — to the Federal-Georgian-style exterior, to the American Indian art in the lobby, to the replica World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane suspended from the atrium ceiling, to doing honor to the Tuskegee Airmen, the Busey family made the place a statement about minority and multicultural heritage.
Founder, Chairman and CEO Phil G. Busey Sr., who is Delaware and Cherokee, said Delaware Resource Group’s new $11.1-million, 38,000-square-foot global headquarters at 3220 Quail Springs Parkway was meant to reflect his family culture and to be a showpiece for Oklahoma City.
That took close work with architect Bruce Bockus of Bockus Payne Associates Architects and general contractor Smith & Pickel Construction. But they reached into their own heritage and experience for the most meaningful feature.
“I’m proudest of the atrium with the P-51 that we have, in showcasing the Tuskegee Airmen, but also making a statement about what we do,” Busey said of the building, which will have its grand opening Thursday.
He drew a connection between the African- American U.S. Army Air Forces fighter and bomber pilots in World War II and DRG as a minority-owned defense contractor.
“I chose that because, as a Native American — we discussed that, and it seems fitting to honor them, and all minorities, inclusive, that serve and work in the military and have fought for the United States and distinguished themselves in a lot of different ways,” Busey said. “The P-51 was one of the last fighters flown in World War II. It’s a very powerful aircraft, and it has red tail markings, which are significant to the Tuskegee Airmen squadron.”
He added, “We believe in empowering minority communities to really find opportunities, and we want to make a statement about that.”
Busey noted that the replica was crafted by the same company that did the replica of Wiley Post’s record- setting “Winnie Mae,” a Lockheed Vega, hanging in the atrium of the Oklahoma History Center. DRG’s P-51 was by Jaime Johnston of Arizona Aircraft Replicas LLC in Scottsdale, Ariz.
DRG executive Philip Busey Jr., the CEO’s son, said they considered other possibilities for symbols for the company, which has nearly 700 employees providing aircraft crew simulator and maintenance training from 40 locations around the world.
“We wanted something to symbolize what we do. We do work on a lot of aircraft, most of the military now,” said the younger Busey, senior vice president and chief communications officer. “So we decided, rather than concentrating on the E-3, where we got started, do we do the F-15, which we do a lot of work on now? Or F-22?
“Instead, we went to the legacy, and with that, being a minority-owned business, we felt like the P-51, with the red tail markings to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, was a good tribute.”
Homage to minorities in the military isn’t the only thing that makes the office building distinctive.
For function, it has a simulator device test lab; the Bruce L. Goree Training Center, named for one of DRG’s first employees when Busey started it in 2002, the director of business development who died in 2014; a well-equipped fitness center; a safe room big enough for the 40 headquarters employees; and room on 5 acres for expansion.
For form, in addition to the P-51 Mustang, there’s all the brick, all the art — and 5-plus miles of crown molding and other millwork by Contemporary Cabinets in Edmond.
Phil Busey said it all combines for a “quality architectural statement for what we want it to stand for, integrity in construction, but also as a showpiece … to honor and develop relationships with the city of Oklahoma City and the state, and to help attract other people to Oklahoma for job opportunities with us and possibly other companies.”
For more information on Busey and DRG, please visit www.drgok.com.