Like father, like son

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:41 pm

    Richard L. Schmidt Jr. says he could not turn down the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of his father even though he had enjoyed his job at Waukesha-based Payne & Dolan Inc. So, Schmidt recently accepted the offer to become president and chief executive officer of C.G. Schmidt Inc., a Milwaukee-based construction company.

    He succeeds his father, Richard L Schmidt Sr. His great grandfather, Charles Schmidt, founded the company in 1920.

    “It’s my family,” Schmidt said. “My brothers all work at the family firm here. So, when my dad approached me and asked me if I would have an interest, I said, ‘Yes.’ I spoke with some other members of the board. It was a tough decision because I was treated very well at Payne & Dolan. I really enjoyed working at that company. But this is family.”

    Schmidt was vice president and regional manager for Payne & Dolan, a paving contractor and producer of hot mix asphalt pavements. He worked for that company for 26 years. Schmidt was responsible for Payne & Dolan South, which meant he oversaw the company’s operations in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

    Schmidt Sr. remains the majority owner of the company and is the chairman of the board.

    The transition from father to son was eased because Schmidt Jr. was a member of the board of directors for 10 years prior to becoming president and CEO.

    “I think it helped that I had been on the board for the last 10 years and kind of new the players that were here, the managers that were here, their style and the style of the corporate culture that was here,” he said.

    Steve Chamberlin, the former president of C.G. Schmidt, left the company recently to pursue other career opportunities.

    “I’m serving as president and CEO,” Schmidt said. “Steve was president before he decided to pursue other opportunities. We’re not looking to replace him, per se.”

    C.G. Schmidt is the largest Milwaukee-based contractor and specializes in health care, life-science, wellness center, commercial, industrial, senior living and cultural markets. The company’s largest current construction projects include: a new $38 million industrial building for Bucyrus International Inc. in South Milwaukee; $348 million in additions and renovations to Columbia St. Mary Hospital’s campus at Prospect and North avenues in Milwaukee (a joint venture with Southfield, Mich.-based Barton Malow Co.); a $58 million, 191,000-square-foot corporate headquarters expansion for West Bend Mutual Insurance Co.; and a new $55 million hospital for Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare in Franklin.

    Schmidt said he is not planning to make any major changes to the company he now oversees.

    “The company has been very successful because it’s got some really good people who work here,” he said. “People here really care. They care about our customers. They care about the other employees here. That’s one of the core values of C.G. Schmidt. I don’t see any wide, sweeping, great changes. Maybe a few tweaks here and there, but the company has been on sound footing and will continue to be.

    “The company is doing very well. I think my dad’s leadership here, over the years, he’s really made a mark in this industry and on this company. The people here are very professional, very dedicated, very team oriented and very customer focused. That’s why the company has been successful,” Schmidt said. “We do a lot of repeat business with clients on project after project. I think that is a testament to the people that work here and the focus that C.G. Schmidt has on the customer.”

    Schmidt said his management style is similar to that of his father.

    “I think it coincides pretty closely,” he said. “In fact, the core values here at C.G. Schmidt are very similar to what they are at Payne & Dolan. Payne & Dolan is also a family-owned company. Very similar culture to what’s over here at C.G. Schmidt. My personal philosophy and goals very much align with my father’s, and the culture here fits my management style.”

    Schmidt said his primary goal as CEO of C.G. Schmidt is simply to grow the company.

    “I’d like to see the company continue to grow,” he said. “The company has grown a lot with my dad in charge. Certainly, my goal is to see it continue to grow at a controlled pace. C.G. Schmidt does a lot of different types of buildings. We work in a lot of different market segments, and I think C.G. Schmidt is going to continue to grow.”

    The company opened an office in Madison in the fall, which should help the firm grow by gaining more business from outside of the Milwaukee area, Schmidt said.

    “We’re hoping to do a number of projects in the Madison area,” he said. “Our business development people are always out looking for opportunities. We’re starting to do more work outside of the metro Milwaukee area, which I think will help the company grow. We’re always looking for opportunities. At any given time, we’ve got dozens of potential projects. I’d prefer not to disclose the actual projects so our competitors don’t jump after those.”

    The company will add more employees, both field and office staff, this year, Schmidt said. The number of new positions will be determined by how many contracts the company gets.

    One of the new employees will be Schmidt’s son, Ryan, who will graduate in the spring from Marquette University.

    “We haven’t quite decided yet (his role),” Schmidt said. “We’ll see where he fits in best.”

    Richard L. Schmidt Jr.

    President and CEO, C.G. Schmidt Inc.

    Location: 11777 W. Lake Park Drive, Milwaukee
    Industry: Construction
    Number of employees: 350
    Annual revenue: $180 million
    Web site:
    Age: 48
    Education: Graduate of Marquette University, 1980, civil engineering
    Residence: Brookfield
    Family: Wife, Nickie; sons, Ryan, 21, and Brad, 19
    Hobbies: Snow skiing, snowmobiling, motorcycling

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