Two Milwaukee construction industry icons pass away
Richard "Dick" L. Schmidt Sr., former chairman and chief executive officer of Milwaukee-based general contractor CG Schmidt, and Benjamin Eisenhardt, the former owner of Waukesha-based electrical contractor Good Electric Inc., passed away recently.
Eisenhardt died at Eagle River Memorial Hospital Friday at the age of 84. He is survived by his wife, Barbara, son Gregg, daughter, Carol DeSimone and stepsons Craig Plain and Mark Plain.
Eisenhardt started working for Good Electric after World War II and took over the company from his father in the early 1960s. He remained president until 1985. Today the company is owned by his son, president and CEO Gregg Eisenhardt.
“A lot of people loved him,” Gregg said of his father. “He was a great man. He was ethical and honest.”
On some occasions Benjamin Eisenhardt returned money to customers who accidently paid him twice, his son said. Eisenhardt also had a motto of never saying anything bad about anyone else, not even a competitor.
“‘No good can come of it,’ he would say,” Gregg Eisenhardt said. “He had a lot of common sense.”
Schmidt died Thursday, Sept. 10, at Kathy Hospice in West Bend, at the age of 77.
Schmidt began working at the family construction business, which was founded by his grandfather in 1920, when he was 9 years old, pulling nails out of lumber and learning how to be a bricklayer. Since 1992, he was chairman of the firm, leading the company from $10 million in annual revenue to $250 million in 2008.
Schmidt is survived by Susan, his wife of 10 years, and his 10 children; Laura, Richard, David, Julie, Teri, Mary, Mark, Kristin, Joanna, and Eric. Schmidt is also survived by his brother, Charles Schmidt, and his sister, Charlene. Schmidt resided in West Bend. He had 18 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Schmidt’s legacy is visible in some of the most ambitious construction projects in Wisconsin. Projects ranging from the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Calatrava addition and the University of Wisconsin’s Stevens Point Arts Center to General Mitchell International Airport’s 4,000 car parking structure were constructed under Schmidt’s leadership.
"Richard always did the right thing," said his son, Rick Schmidt Jr., current president and CEO of the company. "Even if the decision was costly or difficult, he always made sure it was righteous."
Schmidt began working at the family construction business, which was founded by his grandfather in 1920, when he was 9 years old, pulling nails out of lumber and learning how to be a bricklayer.
Since 1992, he was chairman of the firm, leading the company from $10 million in annual revenue to $250 million in 2008.
Under his direction as chairman, CG Schmidt has diversified into new markets and "Richard told me what CG Schmidt was all about the very day I was hired, and that was, ‘Doing the right thing,’" said Dan Davis, senior vice president. "Do the right thing, and Richard would always stand behind you."