“There was nobody in town I wanted to work for, so starting my own business just happened.” Company founder, Jim Estes, retells the humble beginning of his company that is still growing and achieving new levels of excellence over 40 years later.
Jim had an architect friend, and they collaborated with clients on small commercial buildings in the early 1970s. Jim might say his best collaboration ever was with his wife, Lori, who did the books for the company at night while working a day job for the first 13 years of their relationship. Sometime in the early years, Lori moved her bookkeeping from the kitchen to the laundry room. Jim made her a desk out of a mispick door from a jobsite and two file cabinets. And Jim doubled her salary every year. “Twice of nothing was still nothing,” Lori recalls.
“In the early days, we had to guarantee a job with our personal assets. Our home, car, my wedding ring. It was risky, but we always knew we would succeed,” reflects Lori. These were lean times but Jim's can do attitude blinded him to the risk. “We didn't start out with a grand plan, but we always felt like we could handle the situation,” said Jim.
In the early 1980s when the recession hit the Quad Cities, Jim “refused to participate,” according to Lori. The company took jobs where available, including Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans and Memphis. Much of the work was building fast food restaurants with extremely tight construction schedules. Estes earned a favorable reputation as the builder that could meet a tight deadline while staying under budget.
The Reward Of A Challenge.
The company's watershed project was construction of the Quad-City Times building in downtown Davenport. The location of the building along River Drive was very visible to business people driving past the site twice a day. “The people noticed us every day as they drove past the construction site on their way to work. This project changed our company,” Lori reflected. In spite of the weak economy, this project was celebrated as something positive happening in town, and the media often covered the story because the rest of the financial news was not encouraging. Estes completed the building in time for the new press to be installed and finished the job two months ahead of schedule.
Following its ongoing success with a process for collaboration, Estes moved to advance the concept. Estes Construction was at the forefront of Integrated Project Delivery, a process that involves all stakeholders early in a project and yields significant savings to clients. The company had been operating under this delivery method for decades, and the market finally recognized its value. Today it is the preferred delivery method for many complex construction projects, and Estes has been recognized as a national leader.
With exceptional leadership, dedicated staff and honest core values, Jim and Lori Estes laid a great foundation for Estes Construction to succeed in the future as an advocate for clients from concept to completion. The company maintains its headquarters in downtown Davenport's historic Redstone Building. Estes completed the historical restoration on the Redstone Building in 2001.