Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat | SLBJ
Western Specialty Contractors is honored to announce that it has been selected for the St. Louis Business Journal’s Family Business Awards. The program recognizes family-owned companies that have successfully transitioned between generations and made an impact on the St. Louis community. The winners were honored at an awards event on Oct. 11.
Founded in 1915, St. Louis-based Western Specialty Contractors is currently led by CEO Benjamin Bishop, Jr., a third generation founding family member. A total of five family members, many fourth-generation, currently work at Western.
“We are so honored to receive an award that recognizes the value of family-owned businesses,” said Western CEO Ben “Butch” Bishop, Jr. “Family values have become almost cliché in recent years, but that’s really what built Western Specialty Contractors. Of course, Western is dedicated to quality work and craftsmanship, but Western believes that you cannot achieve quality consistently unless you have people who can work as a team, with trust and respect for each other. Those values are truly the legacy of Western’s founders Ben Many and George Bishop, Sr.”
Western’s history began in 1915 when the Ironite Company of Chicago invented a cost-saving product to waterproof concrete foundations from the inside called “Ironite” and needed contractors to successfully apply the product. St. Louis native Ben Many jumped on the opportunity and hired his brother-in-law George Bishop, Sr., also a St. Louis native, to be his partner after Bishop returned home from serving in World War I, and the Western Waterproofing Company of Missouri was born.
Following The Great Depression in 1929, Bishop worked to rebuild the struggling company after his partner moved to Chicago to pursue other opportunities. Through the decades, the Bishop family continued to grow the business and expand across the country, passing it down through the generations to eventually include branch locations in Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington. Western also expanded its services beyond just waterproofing to include masonry and concrete restoration, specialty roofing, disaster recovery and façade restoration, and changed its name to Western Specialty Contractors in 2015.
Today, Western is the largest concrete and masonry specialty contractor in the U.S., with over 30 branch offices and member companies nationwide, employing more than 1,250 people and executing more than 3,000 contracts each year.
Western has been quietly restoring some of America’s most beloved buildings and structures for generations and takes great pride in its hands-on ability to get the job done right while creating lasting quality. Western has completed more than 300,000 projects over the course of its 103-year history, which include: Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL; Citadel Military College of South Carolina; Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, CA; Disney World’s Epcot Center in Orlando, FL; Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.; Martin Luther King Federal Building in Atlanta, GA; Chrysler Building in New York, NY; Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago, IL; Superdome in New Orleans, LA; Busch Stadium and Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, MO; Packard Automotive Plant in Detroit, MI; Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in San Francisco, CA and Shrine of Saint Joseph in St. Louis, MO, to name just a few.
Western has faced it share of ups and downs over the course of its 103-years in business, which have included The Great Depression, two World Wars and multiple recessions, but throughout history, Western has proven that strong leadership, a willingness to adapt to changing times and hard-working, committed employees are the keys to succeeding through challenges.
“Learning to have patience was one of the most difficult skills to master. Learning from the ground up doesn’t come overnight and having been in business for 103 years you go through a lot of ups and downs,” said Bishop, Jr. “The principles and values put in place by the best generations have really made keeping the family culture the cornerstone of Western’s success. Your company is only as good as the people who work for you, and we have several fourth-generation family members presently employed by Western. Times change, processes change and people change. Change will always be the challenge all companies have to conquer in order to survive the generations.”