Three generations help community grow

Paul Brockmiller stands next to artwork by Mike Lamb showing a few of the Brockmiller Construction projects in the area. The piece was commissioned by Paul's daughters to commemorate his retirement after 30 years at the helm of the company chartered by his grandfather, Walter, in 1926. 

Provided by Brockmiller family

The date of December 21 holds a significant part in the life of Paul Brockmiller.

He’s the third generation to run Brockmiller Construction—a company chartered in 1926 by his grandfather, Walter, and later run by his father, Don.

Don would take over the company when Walter passed away in the late 1960s.

“My father took it over and he ran it until he suddenly passed away on Dec. 21, 1987,” Paul said.

And, 30 years later, Paul is retiring on this date. He recently looked back on his years in Farmington—and the impact the company has made on the region.

At the time of his father’s death, Paul and his wife, Marlene, were living in Florida.

“I’d graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in building construction,” he said. “I was working for a very large contractor down there…which turned out to be one of the best decisions I made because it gave me experience I couldn’t have gotten if I had come straight back here (after graduating)."

Paul said they planned to return to the area at some point, but he first wanted to gain some outside experience before making that transition.

“Until I got that phone call Dec. 21 that my father had passed away,” he said. “At seven o’clock the next morning, I was here in the office.”

He came back home to an office full of employees he knew well—from his time as a student working with his dad’s company over summer and holiday breaks.

“I worked under all these guys,” he said. “When I came back, I knew who they were. I’m still not quite for sure why all of these guys wanted to stick around for a 25-year old kid.

“But, it turned out pretty good.”

Paul said he and Marlene were fortunate in the fact she was able to transfer her job in Florida to an office in St. Louis—where the two lived for the first five years after moving back.

“We lived up in Oakville,” he said. “It took me about an hour to get here…took her about an hour to get to (her job in) Westport.”

The decision to move to Farmington was made after the birth of their oldest daughter, Lauren. They are also the parents of two more daughters—Taylor and Morgan.

“I was leaving the house at 5:30 (a.m.) and not getting home until 6:30 or 7 (p.m.),” Paul said. “…I didn’t get to see my daughter and that’s when we made the decision to move down here.”

Paul also recounts the story of how longtime employee Cindy Detring came on board.

His stepmother, Marlys, mentioned the daughter of a friend who was wanting to move back to the area as well. Cindy and her husband, Marvin, were living in the Oakville area.

“She came down (to Brockmiller Construction) from working with Edison Brothers on worldwide accounts,” he said. “At the time, it worked out that I was able to take and run with the construction end of it while she took care of all the internal functions with getting us up-to-date and modernized with all our accounting.

“Since then, it’s been a pretty good run. We’ve—slowly but surely—grown the company from about $5 or $6 million a year total volume to up to about $50 million a year right now. We probably had 10 to 15 on payroll when I came here to in excess of 85 to 100 people on payroll right now” not including the subcontractors.

For a number of years there were two project managers in the office. Now, there are four with an office staff of 16.

“It was my dad and one other person to 16 people in the office now,” he said.

Like Paul, Cindy is retiring at the end of the year as well.

“Cindy and I talk about it many a time that if we’d known where the company was when we took over…it was just go a hundred miles an hour and see how it turns out…it turned out pretty well.”

In early November, the announcement was made of the transferring 100 percent ownership of the company to its office employees via an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

An ESOP is a qualified retirement plan that buys, holds, and sells company stock for the benefit of the employees, providing them with an ownership stake in the company.

“That was a good transition, because I knew it was time I wanted to step back a little bit,” he said. “It was a way to keep Brockmiller Construction operating in the same capacity without taking anything away from the company that would make it less successful. And, it’s going to give those people who’ve invested a lot of time and effort into it some ownership in the company.”

He said there’s no particular “favorite” project from his 30 years in the business.

“I’ve had people say before ‘what is your favorite project?'. I don’t know if I really had one that I would say ‘hey, that’s the one.’ We try to make every job so that it is the most important—we try to treat all jobs as the most important job,” he said.

And, Paul said he’s never consider his line of work as a job.

“I never consider what I do (as) working,” Paul said. “To me, it’s every day we come here…how we can do something different, try to be better than our competition. It’s kind of a game that we have to figure out how to be the best at what we do.

“We’ve had a pretty good run…we’ve been the ones who’ve developed the reputation. I think we have a pretty good reputation in the area” noting at one time the company was working in each school district in St. Francois County one summer.

Paul said a sentiment shared by his daughters during a surprise retirement event held in his honor expressed his feelings about living and working in a community.

“Whenever you can grow up and go to the school that we built, go to churches, restaurants, stuff that we’ve built here around the town, it’s a good feeling,” he said.

Some projects in town can note three generations of Brockmiller Construction involvement. Before the groundbreaking ceremonies in 2014 for the Farmington Public Library, he spoke of the multi-generational ties to that piece of property.

One of the first projects Paul became involved with after the death of his father was a renovation at the former Medical Arts Clinic that once stood on that site.

And, it was years before when his grandfather oversaw the construction of the original medial building.

In addition, the three generations were integral in construction projects at First Baptist Church of Farmington and Washington-Franklin Elementary school, among others.

“That’s what made the difference when I came back,” Paul said. “Because of what my grandfather and my dad…the groundwork they laid…I was able to walk into some people’s offices at times—people I didn’t know that had known my dad or my grandfather that knew of our company, so I was at least able to go in and introduce myself.”

He will continue his work following his retirement with projects in Jackson, Missouri. And, he and Marlene will continue to make Farmington their home.

“Farmington has been too good to us,” he said. “Marlene had never lived in a small town before in her life, but she became as much a part of this community with everything she’s done—chamber president, IDA.

"This is our home.”

Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or srobinson@farmingtonpressonline.com

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Farmington Press Managing Editor

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