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McDonald’s upgrades brought to life by Black, woman-owned firm

Celebrating Black Business Month with our airport partners

Customers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) will now have an easier time finding the McDonald’s in arrivals at Terminal 5 thanks to a new branded wall constructed by a Black, woman-owned general contracting firm.  

We proudly recognize our partner Rea Johnson, President of CREA Construction, during Black Business Month. The annual celebration recognizes Black entrepreneurs and their contributions to the country’s economy and culture.  

Representing CREA Construction’s first project within an airport, the company was brought in to expand visibility of the McDonald’s location while also enhancing the concept’s back-of-house storage. The new wall incorporates McDonald’s latest design elements, intended to be eye-catching in a limited space. 

“We were thrilled to have an opportunity to work at O’Hare International Airport,” Johnson said. “In the 15 years since I started my company, we have developed a specialty in remodels and buildouts. Working on an airport project has always been of interest and I am appreciative of McDonald’s and URW for opening the door and helping us succeed.” 

“It was a great fit for CREA with their specialty in retail space, flexibility, competitive pricing, and great customer service,” said Chris Stepp,  McDonald’s Area Construction Manager. “We thought it was a great opportunity to get them in the airport. It is a challenging environment but they thrived and we are thrilled with the end product.” 

Johnson founded her company in 2007 after having trouble finding a general contractor. A native of Chicago, she earned her MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and her BS in Mathematics from Spelman College. She has overseen various remodel projects for retailers and restaurants including many freestanding McDonald’s restaurants.  

This is just the latest update to the Terminal 5 restaurant, which saw a 2019 renovation that included an updated dining room, expanded kitchen space, and a new customer-facing facade. With planned revamps of its portfolio of restaurants, McDonald’s embarked on a an initiative to expand and diversify its contractor base. CREA Construction was brought on board where they started with counter remodels and eventually did full dining room remodels.  

“The new McDonald’s wall is a great example of innovative branding in our terminal and a terrific way to bring new construction partners into the terminal,” said Sherain Thomas, URW Assistant General Manager, ORD. “Through our Supplier Diversity Network, we are always looking to support minority and female-owned businesses interested in new opportunities at airports across the country.”  

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