Melvin J. Gravely IIExecutive Chair Triversity Construction Company Appointed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Current term ends December 31, 2026
Melvin Gravely started his working life as a sales rep for IBM. Wowed by the disciplined company culture emphasizing knowledge of the customer and attention to detail, down to the requirement that salesmen wear blue suits and white shirts, he turned down offers from other blue chip firms to work for the computer behemoth.
Three decades later, Gravely’s the owner of Triversity Construction Co., a commercial builder he bought in 2009. “What I brought to this company was my ability to understand the markets and to drive strategy,” says Gravely.
In particular, Triversity focuses on repeat business, something IBM was renowned for winning. “Our core customers are people who are always building,” such as developers, utilities and healthcare companies, and “we want to embed ourselves in companies that build all the time.” With about 105 employees, and over $100 million in construction volume, Triversity “is active in civic leadership in the Cincinnati region,” Gravely says.
A native of Canton, Gravely and his sister were raised by parents who, by example, emphasized education and hard work.He graduated from Timken High School and from the University of Mount Union, in nearby Alliance, Ohio, where he majored in computer science. Gravely later picked up an MBA from Kent State University and a PhD in business administration from Cincinnati’s Union Institute and University.
His career has included a four-year stint as a business professor at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, and operating a consultancy focused on advising clients nationally about how to support the development of minority-owned businesses.
“I got frustrated that communities and organizations weren't using my strategies the way I thought they should,” Gravely says, so he set out to put his ideas into action by buying a company and running it according to his principles. Gravely describes Triversity as a business with “a high-performing, diverse, and inclusive culture. Everything we do, from hiring to promotions to development, is focused on that. We want to be a role model for the world on what a diverse and inclusive company can be.”
The results so far are encouraging, according to Gravely. “Our level of employee engagement is high. Our turnover is lower than industry averages. We deliver a unique value in the marketplace.”
But ultimately, Gravely believes, the metric that matters is staying power: “What gets me fired up every day is building a company built to last and enduring for generations. So we’ll just have to see.”
A self-described “business geek,” Gravely welcomed the chance to serve on the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Cincinnati Business Advisory Council, which he joined in 2020. He was appointed to the Bank’s Cincinnati branch board of directors in June 2023.
As a board member, Gravely offers a sentinel’s perspective on job market conditions for both blue- and white-collar workers in the construction industry and on how interest rates and other economic forces are affecting bankers, contractors, and developers “who are trying to make projects pencil out.”
“I don’t think it’s more unique than others who are represented around that table,” Gravely says, “but our industry is one that tends to feel change relatively early.”