As I think about the history of Nabholz, the first thing that crosses my mind—as trite as it may sound—is how fast the past 65 years have gone by. Of course, there are many segments of that 65-year span that were as slow as cold molasses, but looking back, much of it is now just a blur.
I was 13 and in the 7th grade when my brother Bob started this business in 1949. I remember working a few days on his first house on 2nd Street in Conway, doing clean-up, toting two-by-fours, and waiting for a chance to do some of the actual nailing. Every now and then I did get lucky and the carpenters would let me help nail down the subfloor or roof decking. All 6 of us Nabholz brothers, along with our relatives and friends, worked on that first house. That’s how Nabholz Construction was born.
In the early years, it was a family affair, with Bob at the helm and the rest of us brothers serving in various leadership roles as the company grew. And it did grow. We had some of the best craftsmen around at that time—talented guys like Ed and Gerald Bruich, Alex and Leonard Dayer, Emile Luyet, Duck Carmichael, Cheese White, Andy Worm, and Dallas Kersey who helped build Nabholz from the ground up. When word of their outstanding work got around, the work load picked up and even more of Conway’s finest craftsmen came to work for the company.
Others who were influential and provided strong leadership in those early years were Ed Bruich, Bob Tyler, Bob Nutter, David Thessing, and Maurice Moix, Jr. Of course, there were many others too numerous to mention, but these five stand out as the first non-family members elected to the board. With their election to the board and the successful completion of our first million dollar project, Arkansas Children’s Colony, Nabholz had graduated from small family business to major player in the Arkansas construction market.
There were many more pivotal moments in Nabholz’ history that were springboards for our success and future growth. In 1962, for example, the launch of Con-Ark Builders as a merit shop contractor meant work could continue on projects despite the work stoppages that halted operations on projects throughout the area, including many of Nabholz’ projects, during a time of strikes and labor disputes. The founding of our carpentry apprenticeship program, the decisions to hire college grads with construction management degrees and make stock available to key leaders within the company, and the acquisition of Kan-Ark Construction Company that triggered our expansion into new markets all stand out as pivotal moments in my memory.
Construction is a very rough and tough business and I’m proud of our success over the past 65 years. I believe Nabholz’ principles of reinvesting profits back into the company—primarily in our people—and promoting a culture of pride and loyalty among our employees are what helped our company survive during the many ups and downs in our industry. In fact, I have seen several boom and bust contractors fall by the wayside because they lacked the discipline to initiate and follow these practices.
I am most proud of the reputation for quality and integrity Nabholz has earned. Over the years I have received thousands of compliments from clients, subcontractors, vendors, and others about the high integrity of our company. I know that using the word “integrity” in our marketing and wearing it on our shirts and hats might sometimes come across as beating our own chest, but as one of baseball’s great pitchers used to say, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.” I’m proud that we can back it up and my hope is that we never find ourselves bragging without merit.
When I look back on Nabholz’ history today, I am proud of how far we’ve come. From our humble beginnings in 1949, we have grown into one of the largest contractors in the U.S., with many awards earned over the years. None of this recognition would mean anything to me personally, though, if our reputation for INTEGRITY were ever sacrificed.