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About Irvinbilt Constructors

Mission Statement / Vision Statement / Our History / Our Team

Mission Statement

The mission of Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. is to deliver optimum value to its clients through the highest quality construction, on schedule, and within budget, while providing a reasonable return on investment for its owners, a safe and rewarding workplace for its employees, and a profitable and positive relationship with architects, engineers, suppliers, subcontractors, and other valuable partners.

Vision Statement

The vision of Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. is to be recognized and respected as the region’s leading provider of quality construction with the highest level of value, ethics, and integrity for its clients.

Irvinbilt Constructors Mission and Vision Statements

Our History

Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. has roots that predate the Great Depression and World War II. The company is in its fourth generation of ownership and management. Very few companies in this industry can boast this level of longevity. We are very proud of our history and success.

Our predecessor, Irvinbilt Company, Inc., originated during the Great Depression in 1934 when founder, John M. Irvin, a native of Chillicothe, Missouri, began contracting farm improvements for Prudential Insurance Company on farms on which they had foreclosed, making them more attractive for resale. His parents, Clifford and Maude Irvin, had built houses in Chillicothe as early as the 1920s. Irvin graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1929 and then attended the University of Missouri.

His first job was near Blair, Kansas. He finished the job in one week and made a profit of fifty dollars…a lot of money at that time. Laborers earned one dollar per ten-hour day. Carpenters and other craftsmen made twenty to thirty cents an hour.

The new company did not own much equipment…only a saw and a hammer. Concrete was mixed by hand, shoveled into five-gallon buckets, and carried to the forms. That was easier than using steel wheelbarrows on rough farm ground. They later rigged a concrete mixer on a truck and used a washing machine motor to power a table saw.

Irvin continued doing remote farm building improvements until 1940 when he returned to Chillicothe to design and build houses and later commercial buildings.

After Pearl Harbor most of the building was done in connection with the war effort. During the period 1941 to 1945 the company shifted gears and manufactured wagon boxes, scoop boards, hog feeders, hog houses, and baler blocks which were sold all over the United States through outlets like Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward. This is when the name “Irvinbilt” originated and stuck.

During 1948 and 1949 the company constructed its first major commercial project, the beautiful Ben Bolt Theatre in Chillicothe, pictured here.

Beginning in the 1950s there was a great demand for new schools, as few had been built since 1930. Irvinbilt Company expanded to meet the need and for a number of years school construction was a major component of the company’s volume. By 1977 Irvinbilt had built over sixty-five schools…including seventeen for one architect.

Irvinbilt Company was incorporated February 23, 1955. The corporation rented premises at 304 Clay Street in Chillicothe for offices and a shop. Lowell Burghart, a mechanical engineer and graduate of Kansas State College, and Morris B. Willis, an electrical engineer, also a graduate of Kansas State, became shareholders, officers, and project managers in April 1955.

Following incorporation, the company continued to work in the commercial and institutional field and also expanded its reach into the more-complex and less-crowded field of municipal works such as water and wastewater treatment plants. This continues to be a significant segment of the company’s business today.

In June of 1962 Jeff Churan, a journeyman carpenter and third-year civil engineering student at the University of Missouri, went to work for the company during the summer between his junior and senior years. He was employed as a superintendent on a heating plant project at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. He joined the firm full time upon graduation with a BS degree in 1963 and worked as a carpenter foreman and project superintendent until 1966 when he moved into the office as a project manager. In 1967 he qualified as a registered professional engineer (PE).

Irvinbilt Constructors at 10 Hickory Chillicothe, Missouri

The company’s headquarters was moved to 10 Hickory Street, its current location, in 1967. It is comprised of a modest office facility with a spacious yard and a large shop. By that time Burghart had left the company and Willis had moved over to manage Midwest Concrete and Asphalt Company which Irvin had acquired.

Churan began purchasing Irvin’s stock in 1967 and became the majority owner in 1973. At that time, he assumed the titles of president and chief executive officer (CEO), while Irvin partially retired but remained chairman of the board. Irvin, at the age of sixty-six, resigned as chairman and fully retired in 1977. Churan served in an executive capacity in marketing and strategic planning roles, as well as being involved in estimating and project management. Churan managed many notable projects during his fifty-year career with Irvinbilt. He says the one that stands out and of which he is most proud was being among a select group of contractors that readied Whiteman Air Force Base for the iconic B-2 Spirit Bomber.

Don Garrison, with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in construction management from University of Missouri, was recruited to join Irvinbilt Company in 1972. He had experience in the U.S. Navy as an officer in the Civil Engineering Corps (CEC) and also with Morrison Knudsen Corporation in North Dakota. He was elected vice-president and chief operating officer (COO) of the company in 1973. Garrison managed the firm’s field, shop, and equipment operations. Garrison took Irvinbilt to new heights in the treatment plant construction field, including developing partnerships with privatized owners/operators and implementing the design-build delivery option, partnering with leading national consulting engineers.

Ron Clevenger, an accounting graduate of Central Missouri State University and a CPA, joined Irvinbilt Company in 1973. He had worked for the public accounting firm that serviced and audited the company. He assumed the position of secretary-treasurer and chief financial officer (CFO). Clevenger handled the company’s administration and finances as well as personnel, banking, legal, insurance, and surety relations. Under Clevenger’s wise guidance Irvinbilt was one of the first contractors to employ an early IBM digital computer to integrate general ledger and cost accounting, as well as payment application, accounts payable, and payroll functions.

Garrison and Clevenger purchased the remainder of Irvin and Willis’ common stock over a period of time.

The company prospered under this ownership and management team for nearly forty years, with as many as three additional project managers and twelve project superintendents on board, accomplishing an annual volume approaching $20,000,000. During this period the company received a number of awards and recognitions for excellence in construction from, among others, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), Peter Kiewit Corporation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and emerged as the leading regional builder of municipal treatment works.

In 1996 Don Garrison’s son, Joe, graduated from the University of Missouri with a BS degree in civil engineering. He was recruited to join the company as a project manager. In a few years he successfully met the requirements to become a registered professional engineer.

Unfortunately, Don Garrison passed away in April 2011 after losing a strong battle with cancer. Churan and Clevenger both retired later that year and ownership passed to Joe Garrison in accordance with a formal succession plan. Under the plan, Garrison purchased the majority share of an Irvinbilt subsidiary corporation in which Wayne Cunningham, a mechanical contractor, held a minority interest. The corporation purchased a spread of Irvinbilt Company equipment and other assets, creating a “right size” entity to grow in an orderly and secure fashion in the future. Churan and Clevenger remain supportive as investors, having converted some of their common stock to preferred stock in the company. Capitalizing on the excellent reputation of Irvinbilt Company, the corporation was renamed Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. With Cunningham on board, the firm now had the in-house capability to accomplish mechanical work, making them more competitive in the municipal treatment plant arena. Garrison is the chairman, president, and CEO. Cunningham is the vice-president. Jamie Anderson, who had been with Irvinbilt Company for a number of years, moved over to Irvinbilt Constructors as secretary-treasurer and CFO.

Under Joe Garrison’s leadership Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. implemented an adaptive management philosophy of planning, executing, evaluating, and fine-tuning operations in a continuous improvement process. In its first decade of service Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. has been very successful, meeting all of the goals and objectives of its long-range strategic plan, and enjoying secure, structured growth.

Our Team

Irvinbilt Constructors, Inc. believes its strongest asset is its compliment of highly trained, experienced, and qualified employees brought together as a team to deliver the highest quality construction product with optimum value for its clients. The company is especially proud of its stable of young, well-qualified project superintendents who are the life blood of the firm. The entire management team, as well as the field staff, have been brought up in-house, under a structured training program emphasizing hard work, efficiency, quality control, and safety.

Please click on the photos below to read each leader's biography page.

Joe Garrison Les Cook Bill Meyers Brad Zahner Jeff Busse Dorothy Olaleye

Customer Testimonials

For nearly a quarter century Irvinbilt Company and Irvinbilt Constructors have constructed a variety of my projects, including water and wastewater treatment facilities, indoor and outdoor aquatic centers, and spray pads. Irvinbilt was honest, fair, and professional when dealing with clients and design consultants. I appreciate the high skill levels of the workers, their attention to details, and the quality of construction that Irvinbilt delivers. I look forward to future opportunities to work with Irvinbilt.

--Michael J. Fisher, P.E.,
Water’s Edge Aquatic Design