History Matters: Principles Matter More.
Kraft Foods made it; as did Harley Davidson. Buick is still around, albeit after several changes in structure. These companies, all founded in 1903, are the rare exception; they are success stories that remain viable after 115 years. Most of their peers, however, are distant memories.
It is upon this historical landscape that Schmeling Construction Co. can be fairly judged. Begun in 1903 when Rockford, and the world – was a far different place, this fifth-generation company thrives.
This is its story.....
The family’s abiding, overriding commitment to earning each client’s deep trust-whether it’s for a small office remodeling job or a new, multi-million dollar construction project-has resulted in more than two thirds of its business coming from previous customers. Schmeling Construction Co. has developed a very strong niche with Rockford area hospitals and clinics who return over and over with new projects.
Schmeling Construction’s stellar translations of top-quality customized architecture at very fair and equitable prices secures the trust of a wide variety of businesses in Northern Illinois: Among these are banks and offices, light industrial plants, heavy machine-tool factories and institutions ranging from healthcare and community centers to nursing homes and churches.
EMIL SCHMELING CREATES FLEDGLING COMPANY
It was the 1905 construction of Rockford’s St. Paul Lutheran Church, in fact, that represented Emil’s first large-scale project as a general contractor. Business grew quickly as word spread of Emil’s old-world penchant for meticulous quality and craftsmanship. Seven years later, Emil, who apprenticed as a carpenter from 1888 to 1891, opened a lumber yard on W. State Street to handle his construction supply needs.
In 1922, Emil reorganized his company, naming it E. W. Schmeling & Sons as he divided management responsibilities between his five sons: William, Walter, Elmer, Albert and Robert. Walter and Robert were put in charge of the lumber yard while William and Albert ran the architectural millwork division. Son Elmer was made head of construction.
Elmer’s son, Roger, began working for his father at 15, tending bricklayers and breaking up and pouring concrete during summer breaks. In 1956, after earning a degree in architectural engineering and then serving in Japan for two years with the Army Corps of Engineers, Roger began full-time at the company, as a field superintendent. Roger’s son, Stephen, followed a similar path, working summers for his father, and then joining the firm full-time in 1983 after graduating from Iowa State with a degree in business administration/construction engineering. It was in 1970 that E. W. Schmeling & Sons construction division became Schmeling Construction Co., led by Elmer and Roger, and moved to North Madison Street. To accommodate steadfast growth, plant operations moved in 1987 from Madison Street to the present two-acre location at 315 Harrison Avenue. In 2017, Stephen’s son Peter added the 5th generation to Schmeling Construction Co. Peter graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Construction Management.
Today, Schmeling Construction Co. hires 30-plus employees to complete any number of projects at any given time. Services include pre-construction consultation services, construction management services, design/build services and conventional bid/build services. As a means of controlling quality and scheduling of construction tasks, Schmeling Construction Co., unlike most modern builders who subcontract out all of their work, does its own concrete, carpentry and interior demolition work. Another important personalization element not to be found in many of today’s companies is Schmeling Construction’s “hands-on” management style. Project managers visit job sites daily. It is important for Schmeling Construction Co. to be recognized as the best builder in the area, not the biggest. The more diverse and challenging the project, the more they like it.