Our Heritage Where it all Began
It all began when Myrle Snodgrass was building homes in the 40’s with Fortmeyer Lumber (real estate). He ran all of the construction – starting as a Superintendent, moving up to a business partner, followed by going out on his own business venture. Mryle started with building over 1,000 homes, most notably approximately (156) 2-3 BR homes at 21st St & the canal route and many in the Riverside subdivision in Wichita, KS.
All the while, James “Jim” and his brother Max Snodgrass were growing up, becoming inspired and learning the trade. Jim would go around to the construction workers with a box around his neck filled with dry ice, selling .10c ice cream and a .10c coke. Back then, the ice cream was .5c and Jim sold it for .10c each.
He watched his Dad (Myrle) work on everything, from window cleaning, painting, brick walls, and more.
“All of it was just work, no matter if he had a sledgehammer or a level in his hands. Dad was a man of many talents,” said Jim.
The Cost of Doing Business
In 1948, the economy tanked and values went down per Sq. Ft. Business was all just a matter of adjusting to the needs of society. Myrle, Max and Jim Snodgrass started building in commercial construction.
The costs were much different back when the Snodgrass family first began construction; general labor wages were .25c/hour, a Carpenter made .50c/hour, Superintendent at .75c/hour, and a Foreman at $1/day more than a Laborer. The cost of construction was billed out at $15-$20 per Sq. Ft!
The construction industry was continually shifting and Snodgrass adjusted their methods according to what was needed, what was available, and current pricing; finding new equipment to run the job more efficiently and adjusting with new materials. Jim said they found that concrete was a better method than asphalt, and the price of concrete affected a lot. They adjusted their additives and set times. This allowed the relationships with Boeing Company and McConnell Air Force Base to flourish with the ability to pour runways with fast setting concrete. Not only did they have solid contracts, but it continued lasting company relationships.
Facing Challenges and Moving Forward
Snodgrass made adjustments to staffing according to seasonal changes over time. There were anywhere from 10-20 staffed for paving work at McConnell AFB and Boeing to 90-100 employees at peak times. During the winter, Snodgrass generally had 60-70 employees working. Jim said the largest challenge they faced was the struggle to keep Superintendents. When they had notoriety of a large job well done, the competition would recruit them. Overall though, they kept going, in support from government contracts, which helped pay a decent wage. They didn’t have much trouble keeping the business going.