Fifty years ago, an EF4 tornado left its mark on Conway. That same year, a remodeling business started in the city – it’s sole mission devoting time to be of service to customers, especially those looking to rebuild and regather their thoughts.
That mission has stayed the same since.
Kordsmeier Remodeling Service Inc. now finds itself in a city that has grown exponentially, with a visible construction footprint marking the company’s impact.
"We started a month before the tornado," said Robert "Bob" Kordsmeier, founder and patriarch of Kordsmeier Remodeling.
"It kept us busy, but as far as the impact, we had a lot of contacts before the tornado ever started. People were building homes but no one was repairing homes back then."
Bob said he witnessed the April 10, 1965, tornado from 6th Street, missing it barely, as he recalled. The tornado touched down south of Favre Lane between South Donaghey Avenue and South German Lane. It then stayed on the ground for 4.7 miles in a northeasterly direction.
"We mostly stayed right in remodeling for many a moon right there," he said. "That’s all we did because there was a lot of work they couldn’t get done all at one time."
About 30 or 40 projects were handled at that time, Bob said.
The company began with humble beginnings – a two-man crew and one other employee. Bob said the company started with no dump trucks and was willing to take on any project that came its way.
Kordsmeier Remodeling soon found its niche, with the customer being the top priority. To this day, the company credits its success to the support and repeat business of customers in the area – some of which are now into their second and third generations.
Bob said his desire to leave inside office work drove him to a career change in the direction of remodeling.
"The need was here for what we were doing," he said, adding that the company incorporated in the early 1970s and family members were appointed to a board to help the business grow.
Bob’s son, Ronnie Kordsmeier, owns the business now after his father’s years of service to Kordsmeier Remodeling.
"Being a second-generation business, that’s pretty fortunate right there," Ronnie said. "I’ve had some good people behind me for sure – my dad and Philip, and the rest of them. It wouldn’t be the way it is today without them."
For Ronnie, the decision to work for the family business was a move that "just fit."
Michael Kordsmeier, Ronnie’s son who works as a member of Kordsmeier Remodeling’s sales team, said,
"I like watching it evolve and change because it has changed a lot since my grandpa started it — the way he does things and the way my dad does things."
Michael said he has a lot to learn before he could really think about the long-term future of possibly taking control of the business one day.
Over the years, the company has expanded beyond just having family members as employees, though Kordsmeier Remodeling still views them as family.
"If it wasn’t for all of the employees, we wouldn’t have all that [success]," Ronnie said.
Bob said generations of customers have used the services of Kordsmeier Remodeling and that he hopes to continue that for generations to come.
"As long as we’re kicking," he said, adding that the customers are the "bread and butter" of continued growth.
Ronnie said the 50-year mark is a milestone, especially being in the same community after all the company’s years in business.
Bob said the company has endured its share of changes to accommodate a changing market.
"We didn’t have our own plumbers [early on] and we did remodeling work for plumbing and electrical. We bought a company out here that a lot of people did business with – Lachowsky Plumbing."
Kordsmeier Remodeling later bought out Hoyt Electric, boosting the company’s portfolio for electrical work.
The company now uses in-house electricians and plumbers, while also working with specialty contractors.
"They depend on us and we depend on them," Bob said. "You can’t be a master of all those trades. It’s got to be specialized. People expect more nowadays."
Among the company’s biggest projects, Bob said a few are defining for Kordsmeier Remodeling – a remodel of the American Management Corporation building and former Acxiom CEO Charles Morgan’s house. Others that stood out included Lewis Livestock Auction.
(Assistant managing editor Brandon Riddle can be reached by email at email@example.com, by phone at 505-1215 or on Twitter @BrandonCRiddle. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to thecabin.net. Send us your news at thecabin.net/submit)