From Internshipto Ownership, Rob Johnes Acquires Helmkamp Construction

For Helmkamp President, Rob Johnes, a lifelong dream of being a business owner has become a reality. Johnes, who is the first non-Helmkamp family member to assume ownership of the 80-year-old construction company, completed the long term buyout of the company from Brad Farrell, the founder’s grandson, in January 2018.

“I plan to do some new things while not losing what has made Helmkamp great for the past 80 years” said Johnes. Upon graduating from SIUE with a bachelor degree in construction management, Johnes joined Helmkamp Construction through an internship in 1997 and never left. He worked as a project manager and was appointed Vice President in 2006. He later accepted the role of President in 2012 with a plan to eventually buy out and accept ownership of the family business. “I am deeply honored to lead an organization with such great history and a group of employees who are dedicated to safety, quality, clients and each other.”

In the company’s beginning, Gilbert Helmkamp bought his own truck and started G. Helmkamp Excavating & Trucking in 1938. 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.

Several transitions then occurred. Coinciding with the passing of Gilbert in the early 1980’s, the company name became Helmkamp Construction Company and Gilbert’s son, John, left the construction company for the banking business. Gilbert’s son-in-law, Byron Farrell, became president and began taking the company in new directions.

The third generation of family joined the business in the late 1980’s. Byron’s son, Brad Farrell, a construction engineering and management graduate from Purdue University, joined the firm in 1987. He later served as company president from 1994 to 2011 and CEO from 2012 to 2017. Since announcing his plan to transition into retirement, Farrell has stated his belief that “Rob is the logical choice to provide continuity and take Helmkamp to the next level.”

Originally from Alton, IL, Johnes is married to his wife Karin and they have twin 12-year-old children, Caroline and Raymond. Johnes’ purchase of Helmkamp marked a special milestone as it coincided with the company’s 80th anniversary in the business.

An open house anniversary celebration, which doubled as a retirement party for Brad Farrell, was held in April 2018.