About Us

A vision based on community

HISTORY

IT ALL STARTED IN 1967

The organizations that comprise Merritt Companies originally grew out of Merritt Properties, which today owns and manages more commercial space than any privately held developer in the Baltimore/Washington area: nearly 16 million square feet in more than 70 locations. Our commitment to doing what’s right for our customers is evident not only in Merritt Properties, but in the way Merritt Construction Services and Merritt Clubs serve the region.

See how we’ve grown and stayed true to our vision.

1930

Leroy Merritt Born in Depression-era Dundalk, Maryland

Born in 1930, Leroy is raised in a blue collar area dominated by the local steel mill and shipyard. As a young boy working in his parents’ restaurant during the Depression, Leroy learns early the importance of pitching in, working hard and taking care of your customers. With a strong work ethic and aspirations beyond a job in the steel mill, Leroy earns a Senatorial Scholarship to attend Western Maryland College where his entrepreneurial spirit leads him to his first business venture—selling hotdogs and sandwiches in the dorms at night after the cafeteria closed. During summers home from college, he is given his start in construction, working for his uncles who had established a masonry business after returning from World War II.

1953

After graduating from college and serving the two-year teaching commitment required by his scholarship, Leroy begins building houses, often on spec. He builds more than 60 homes in 10 years.

1967

Leroy Merritt Partners with Ed St. John

In search of an honest builder with whom to partner on apartment buildings, Ed St. John is pointed to Leroy. The two agree to work together. However, instead of apartment buildings, they decide to take advantage of the burgeoning demand for rental warehouse space, a revolutionary concept at the time. They complete their first building—16,000 square feet at 2900 Stafford Street—in southwest Baltimore City, which begins a four-year collaboration between the two men.

1971

Leroy and Ed Divide the Company

After four years, Leroy and Ed recognize that they each have their own unique philosophy on business and agree to split the company. Rather than employing a cast of lawyers and accountants, Ed divides the properties into two groups, and Leroy chooses. They move forward separately, each building successful commercial real estate companies and remaining life-long, friendly competitors. After the split, Leroy moves his company into its first offices on Brighton Avenue.

1972

Scott Dorsey joins the company

Scott Dorsey, Leroy’s cousin, joins Leroy’s new company after having spent 5 summers with his father’s concrete company pouring floors for Ed and Leroy’s warehouses. For years, Leroy and Scott share a “desk” made from a door set atop filing cabinets. This allows Scott to learn first-hand Leroy’s approach to business and gift for building long-lasting relationships with customers and vendors alike.

1972

First mansard roof installed at Aylesbury Business Center

Wishing to make his simple brick warehouses look a little nicer for his customers, Leroy decides to add a mansard roof to two buildings at Aylesbury Business Center. He is surprised to receive a call from the county, expressing concern that the roof may not meet code requirements. While meeting with county officials to review the mansard, a senior official suggests to Leroy that the issue can easily be resolved with a $5,000 contribution to the county executive’s re-election campaign. Leroy refuses and spends over $13,000 fighting the county. He prevails and to this day, the mansard roof is a signature design element on Merritt buildings. The mansard also becomes a symbol to Merritt employees, reminding them of Leroy’s mantra to do what’s right, not what is expedient.

1977

Merritt’s mansard logo is born

As a recognizable feature on Merritt buildings and a symbol of Leroy’s basic business principles, the mansard roof is incorporated into the company’s logo.

1977

Leroy opens his first athletic facility, the Towson Court Club

At the forefront of the racquetball craze, Merritt is approached to lease space for courts in Towson, MD. Unfortunately, once the space is completed, Leroy learns that the investors have backed out of the deal. Recognizing a new opportunity, Leroy takes over the business and opens the first Merritt racquetball facility, the Towson Court Club.

1978

Merritt Enters the Computer Age

Always interested in new technologies and the efficiencies they bring, Merritt adds the IBM System 32 to the office.

1979

Annapolis Club Opens

The Towson Court Club is a success.  As the racquetball craze continues, Merritt decides to open another court club. The Annapolis Club opens. Merritt decides to capitalize on the social aspect of racquetball and adds a full-service bar to the club for members. It’s a hit. 

1980

Merritt moves corporate offices to Security Boulevard and opens Security Club

Merritt opens its third court club. The Security Club is the site of many national racquetball championship matches. Some of these matches are televised.

1986

Merritt builds its first multi-story office building in Timonium

Wanting to bring a first-class office building to customers in the suburbs, Merritt builds Timonium I & II with high-end finishes and building amenities expected in a downtown office.

1986

Clubs evolve from racquetball to full-service clubs

As the racquetball craze begins to wane, the clubs take advantage of new fitness trends and shift to full-service Athletic Clubs.

1987

Merritt’s first historic renovation at 729 E. Pratt Street

Dating back to the late 1800s, this iconic waterfront building originally served as home to the Scarlett Seed Company. Merritt transformed the building, combining unique office and retail spaces that integrate contemporary design with the historical architecture and industrial character of the original building.

1989

Robb Merritt joins the company

After graduating college, Robb Merritt joins his father’s company, learning the business from the ground up as Leroy had. He begins his career on the field construction crew.

1989

Downtown Athletic Club opens

Merritt takes over the Downtown Athletic Club. This historic building was a former train repair station in the early 1900s. Members can still see the arches of the building where trains were brought in for repair.  The building has the only wooden roof truss system in the state.

1990

Merritt completes its first retail project, Columbia Marketplace

1990

Merritt begins its first office park, Columbia Corporate Park

Situated in the heart of the burgeoning Columbia business district, Merritt begins construction on an 18-acre park that will ultimately include five class A office buildings and retail.

1992

Recession hits the commercial real estate industry

With the collapse of the real estate market in the early 90s, Merritt’s 25th anniversary coincides with lean times. “Survive ‘til ’95” becomes the rallying cry. Even the company’s Christmas party consists only of a deli tray and beer, served in a vacant warehouse. While certainly not extravagant, the party is a celebration of the comraderie forged from facing adversity, and it becomes one of Robb Merritt’s favorite memories.

1997

Merritt partners with Rothschild Realty

With a rebounding economy, Scott Dorsey and Robb Merritt travel to New York to seek equity that will allow the company to take advantage of greater development opportunities. What begins as an 8-year investment from Rothschild Realty, grows into a long-term partnership that continues today.

1998

Merritt holds its first corporate retreat

Working with a facilitator, the Merritt team codifies its core values and tagline, “Creating Homes for Businesses.”

1999

Merritt opens Virginia office

Seeing another opportunity in the growing market of Loudoun County, Merritt begins expanding beyond Maryland into Northern Virginia. Opening the Virginia office at Ashbrook.

2000

A new role for Leroy

Leroy steps away from day-to-day operations, dubbing himself the CFO, Chief Fun Officer. Scott and Robb take over leadership.

2000

Business is booming

Merritt kicks off the new millenium with a building boom, completing 16 new properties with more than 1 million square feet in the year 2000 alone.

2000

Eldersburg and Fort Avenue clubs open

Merritt realizes the increased competition of health clubs in Maryland and decides to start branching off into the family marketing. They start construction on their first family-oriented Club in Eldersburg.  The 75,000 square foot facility features a day care, children’s dance studio and two indoor pools. The revitalization of some areas in Baltimore City also makes the Federal Hill area very desirable. Merritt opens another location on Fort Avenue in Locust Point that same year.

2001

Owings Mills Club opens

2002

Leroy receives the NAIOP Lifetime Achievement Award

2003

A hometown company. A hometown team.

Merritt becomes an official sponsor of the Baltimore Ravens.

2003

Canton and Cranbrook clubs open

2003

Merritt’s Fort Avenue club moves to The Foundry

Merritt moves the Fort Ave location from a shopping center to The Foundry, a building owned by Merritt Properties.  The club membership has grown so much more space is needed.

2010

Leroy Merritt passes away

The loss of Leroy’s legendary warmth and humor is tremendous, but his ethics and approach to business continue to steer the company forward.

2013

Merritt wins Business Philanthropy Award for charitable and volunteer work.

2014

Scott receives the NAIOP Lifetime Achievement Award

2014

White Marsh Club opens

The White Marsh area is shown to be a popular family market with little competition for Clubs.  Merritt Properties buys a parcel of land and Merritt Construction builds the White Marsh location. The 55,000 square foot facility features an outdoor pool, large kids center and indoor cardio movie theater.

2014

Merritt completes 7th LEED building

Merritt notches its seventh LEED-certified building, leading the way in Maryland.

2015

Canton Club expands

Major expansion of Canton Club planned alongside development in region.

2016

50 years of service

Impact

Merritt At-a-glance

1,000
Employees

Our dedication to creating and maintaining environments where people can grow and prosper—across all three companies—has resulted in more than 1,000 proud Merritt employees contributing to their communities.

50
Years

Far more than simply running a business for a half century—no small feat in itself—our anniversary in 2017 will celebrate providing a place for growth, service and personal achievement.

37,000
Customers

From creating work environments that are lasting homes for businesses to creating personalized physical fitness regimens for individual members, we make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of area residents and employers.

LEADERSHIP

Greater prosperity for our customers

Greater opportunities for our employees

True to Leroy Merritt’s vision, we focus equally on the efficient operation of our businesses and on our impact on the community—our commitment to doing what’s right, every day, for every customer.

Scott Dorsey CEO

Scott Dorsey

CEO

Focusing on strategic planning and long-term goals, Scott oversees relations with financial institutions, government agencies, economic development organizations and industry groups. He joined the company in 1972. Scott is Chairman of the Board for the Maryland Economic Development Corporation and Maryland Business for Responsive Government, and sits on the Board and Executive Committee for the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, the Young Life-Urban Baltimore Board of Directors, M&T Bank Greater Baltimore/Washington Director’s Advisory Council, the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission, and the Board of Trustees for Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. In addition, he is a member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and an MBA from Loyola University in Maryland.

Robb Merritt - President

Robb Merritt

President

Robb oversees daily operations and management of the company, having learned the development business from the ground up. He is former president of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP) and is currently a member of the Legislative Committee. He also sits on the President’s Advisory Council for the Greater Baltimore Committee and the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission. At the national level, he also serves on the NAIOP Industrial Development III National Forum and sits as a governor on the NAIOP Research Foundation. In addition, Robb is a board member for the Maryland Business Leadership PAC and Living Classrooms Foundation. A graduate of the University of Colorado, Robb received an MBA from Loyola University.

Learn More About Our Companies

Merritt Construction Services

Building a Better Way
Merritt stands for respect, collaboration, and quality because that’s what our founder expected from his team. He saw these as essentials often promised but seldom delivered, so he developed a thoughtful, flexible approach to construction — an approach we follow to this day. Before we complete a project that’s worthy of your business, we believe we have to do a job that’s true to our name.

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Merritt Properties

Creating Homes for Businesses
We believe in simply doing what’s right, every day for every customer. It’s a pretty uncommon notion in the commercial real estate industry, because it means going beyond what’s simply required. It means doing whatever is necessary to address your needs, put your mind at ease, and create a comfortable home for your business.

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Merritt Clubs logo

Fitness That Matters
We’re changing the way Baltimore thinks about fitness. Each facility is designed to meet the needs of the neighborhood it serves, continually evolving programs to bring people together through new experiences that support the overall well-being of our members. We’re not just supporting active lifestyles, we’re creating a happier, healthier community.

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