Illinois company courts Missouri

River City Construction plans a branch in Ashland.
Friday, February 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:08 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Take a look at several of the high-profile projects on the MU campus and you’ll notice they have something in common: They’re all being built by River City Construction. The Illinois-based construction company has picked up so much new business in mid-Missouri that it’s decided to establish a Missouri headquarters in Ashland.

John Sutherland, Missouri project manager for the construction company, said the proximity to projects and availability of space in the Ashland area led to the decision to build a branch there.

“We have a lot of ongoing projects in Columbia with the university, and we were recently the low bidder on a $25 million state government project in Jefferson City,” Sutherland said. “Ashland is located between those two cities, and there is easy access off of the road for our subcontractors and suppliers.”

River City's history in mid-Mo. began at MU

River City Construction made its debut in mid-Missouri two years ago when it began work on a $48 million contract for the Life Sciences Center on the MU campus. Since then, the company has nailed down bids for the Brewer Fieldhouse addition and renovation, and the Virginia Avenue Housing and Dining Facilities, a dorm complex. It also recently landed the construction contract for a new public health laboratory in Jefferson City.

The company has headquarters in Peoria, Ill., and had $179.6 million in sales in 2002. The Missouri headquarters will be housed in the Southern Boone Business Center, which is under construction. The business plans to move in by May.

Ashland location good for company, Ashland

Carl Freiling, one of the owners of the new business center in Ashland, said that the company’s move will help fill space in the building and provide benefits to the city of Ashland. “Any time a corporate center of modest size chooses to locate in a town like Ashland, it’s a good thing,” Freiling said.

Ashland City Administrator Ken Eftink said that a number of factors, including Ashland’s regional location, make the town attractive for businesses like River City.

“Over the past year we’ve seen an increase in the number of large, regional-type businesses wanting to locate here,” Eftink said. “They like Ashland because of the small-town atmosphere and good schools but even more because of our central location to towns like Columbia and Jefferson City.”

Sutherland said that the more work the company does in Missouri, the more opportunities there are for employment.

Current Projects

Life Sciences Center

Contract: $48 million

Percent complete: 92

Scheduled completion: May 2004

Brewer Fieldhouse addition and renovation

Contract: $39.2 million

Percent complete: 40

Scheduled completion: March 2005

Virginia Avenue Housing and Dining Facilities

Contract: $32 million

Percent complete: 80

Scheduled completion: April 2004

Sources: River City Construction and Hoover’s Online

“The only people we bring with us from Illinois is a management team for the project,” Sutherland said. “We hire all local field labor and use local suppliers and subcontractors.”

The number of employees needed for each project varies by the size of the job. Sutherland said that large projects such as the ones in Jefferson City and Columbia could potentially require as many as 150 to 200 workers.

John Neal, associate director for construction management for the University of Missouri, said all of the projects River City has been working on “are going well so far and are on schedule.” He said the university is planning several other major projects that construction companies will have the opportunity to bid on in the next few years.

Even though the current projects River City Construction is working on in Columbia are scheduled for completion by 2005, Sutherland said the company plans to keep looking for business throughout the region.

“The office in Ashland will handle all of the work done in Missouri,” he said. “We plan to continue bidding on work at the university, in Jefferson City, and throughout central Missouri.”

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