In 1935, at the age of 17, Gilbert Helmkamp leased a flatbed truck and used it to haul coal from Livingston and topsoil from the Mississippi Quarry. He picked up his load each morning before going to school and then delivered it after school to residents and business owners.
THE 40'S AND 50'S
In 1938, Gilbert bought his own truck and started G. Helmkamp Excavating & Trucking Company. By 1940, Gilbert had purchased four trucks and was well on his way to establishing a viable business. Standard Oil Company signed long-term leases for all of the Trucks during the War. Throughout the mid 1940’s, the company continued to grow and accumulate equipment. By 1948, the company had purchased its first tractor from Caterpillar, and the truck fleet had grown to ten. The company also purchased its first crane in 1948; it was leased immediately to Illinois Power Company.
The company's growth continued throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s. The staff had grown to eighty people and the equipment fleet had grown to seventy-five pieces, including cranes, bulldozers, high lifts, and trucks of all kinds.
A NEW ENGINEER
During the 1960’s and 1970’s, the second generation of family joined the business. Gilbert’s son-in-law, Byron Farrell, a civil engineering graduate from Purdue University, joined the firm in 1961. Gilbert’s son, John Gilbert Helmkamp Jr., an industrial management graduate from Purdue University, joined the firm in 1971.
THE LATE 70'S
By the late 1970’s, with nearly 300 employees and a large variety of equipment, G. Helmkamp Excavating & Trucking Company had grown to be one of the largest excavating, trucking, and equipment rental companies in the Southern Illinois and the Metropolitan St. Louis market. The work mix included bridges, roadways, golf courses, sewers and industrial work within several local plants such as American Oil, Granite City Steel, Clark Oil, Illinois Power, Olin, Monsanto, and Shell Oil.
Several transitions occurred during the 1980's. Coinciding with the passing of Gilbert in the early 1980’s, the insurance market was skyrocketing and the decision was made to sell the majority of the equipment. The company ownership structure was changed and the company name became Helmkamp Construction Company. Gilbert’s son, John, left the construction company for the banking business. Gilbert’s son-in-law, Byron Farrell, was now president and taking the company in new directions.
THE THIRD GENERATION
During the late 1980’s, the third generation of family joined the business. Byron’s son, Brad Farrell, a construction engineering and management graduate from Purdue University in 1985, joined the firm in 1987.
Throughout the late 1980’s and 1990’s, the company focused on the repeat professional buyer of construction in the building, industrial, and institutional industries.
For the 1st time in company history, Helmkamp was announced winner of the prestigious Keystone Award for Project of the Year, in the category of General Contractor or Construction Manager; Building Construction Project Under $5 Million, for the work performed for the 2004 Presidential Debate at Washington University in St. Louis.
CHANGE OF LEADERSHIP
CEO, Brad Farrell, promotes long-time employee, Rob Johnes, to President of Helmkamp Construction.
MOVING THE HQ
Helmkamp moves to its new administration office location in East Alton, Illinois.
FROM INTERN TO OWNER
Rob Johnes, who joined the company as a college intern in 1997 and grew his career with Helmkamp, became the general contractor's first non-family owner upon Brad Farrell's retirement in 2018.
EIGHTY YEARS STRONG
HCC celebrates its 80th anniversary in business with $80,000 in community donations.
BEST PLACE TO WORK
In 2019, Helmkamp was acknowledged as one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s “Best Places to Work” as well as a "Top Workplace" from the St. Louis Post Dispatch. In addition to excellent benefits and a positive culture, Helmkamp added a fitness center for its employees at their corporate office building.