Joplin construction company celebrates seven decades; a look back at their beginning

JOPLIN, Mo. — A lot can happen in seven decades, and nobody knows that better than one local construction company.

This month, R.E. Smith Construction Company celebrated its 70th year in business.

Three generations of Smiths have seen a lot over several decades in the construction business.

As the years passed by, much of what the Smiths began to see was their own work shaping the city where their company was founded, and still operate out of today.

“It really makes me feel good to drive through Carthage, Springfield and of course Joplin, and see all the project’s that we’ve built and all that our company has done to contribute to the landscape, especially here in Joplin,” said Dick Smith, President of R.E. Smith Construction Company.

R.E. Smith is a family business, dating back to 1952 when Dick Smith’s father, Richard Smith started the business out of the family garage with just one other employee.

“My dad (Richard) came back from World War II and immediately began working at a local cabinet shop. After doing several odd jobs involving woodworking, Dad eventually drummed up enough of his own business to start doing full home construction. All of it in the beginning was on his shoulders, along with the one other employee he had to help out,” said Dick Smith.

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In its infancy, R.E. Smith Construction was known for building homes, and eventually small commercial projects, like grocery stores.

After moving the business out of the family garage, Richard Smith purchased property on 2nd street in Joplin (1036 West 2nd Street) where he built the first official office for R.E. Smith Construction. After many add-ons and renovations, the company headquarters still exists at the original 2nd Street location.

After opening its new office, the company’s first big projects would come from another business that’s also rooted in Southwest Missouri: Eagle Picher.

In the 1960’s, the battery technology company hired R.E. Smith to construct several of their Joplin facilities.

As with all things, it took time for R.E. Smith Construction to become a name that Four State residents and businesses came to know.

Dick Smith, who runs the company with his brother Dave Smith, says their 96-year-old father, Richard, couldn’t be more proud of what R.E. Smith Construction Company has become.

“Over the last 70 years, R.E. Smith has gone from just two employees in 1952, to approximately 50 who work for us full time. To date, we’ve constructed 8,000 projects in eight states. We’re doing several projects now that are in the $20 to $22 million range. So, we’ve come a long way over seven decades, and I know Dad is very proud of the growth of this business that he started so many years ago,” said Dick Smith.

Out of the 8,000 construction projects that R.E. Smith has worked on over the years, there’s a few of those projects that the Smith family says they are especially proud of.

“Missouri Southern is probably one of our proudest projects. We’ve built a number of projects out there for the University. We’ve actually done quite a few projects on that campus. We’re also very proud of the Joplin Library projects, too. Anytime we can contribute to making Joplin, our home, a better place to live and to work, it’s a big deal for us,” said Dick Smith.

You can find more information on R.E. Smith Construction Company, HERE.

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