The Road To Success
When Norman West and his wife Mary started West Contracting in March 1956, they were intimately familiar with the paving industry. Mary’s father was one of the founders and owners of Geitz-Woolsey, which at the time was one of the St. Louis area’s largest paving contractors. Norm took a job with his father-in-law’s firm, learning the ropes. He worked on crews, drove trucks and gained experience in estimating. Norm was hopeful that his ability to grasp all facets of the business would put him in line to take over Geitz-Woolsey. He soon realized that his dream of running an asphalt paving company would have to take a new direction when his brother-in-law joined the company and became the heir apparent. That didn’t deter Norm. Instead, he started N.B. West Contracting Co., Inc. The fledgling company had its humble beginnings in the basement of Norm and Mary’s home. During the day, Norm worked with his crew paving. In the evenings, he met with customers, providing estimates for future work. Mary pitched in, running the office and handling the paperwork.
House Boom Builds Business
Norm’s timing was impeccable. The housing boom of the 50s helped the company grow. He eventually hired Hock Rombauer to help with estimates, and moved the offices to a bus located on his father-in-law’s property. Yes, a bus, complete with desks installed over the wheel wells. As the business thrived, Norm found a more permanent office not too far from the company’s current headquarters on Mary Avenue, just off Manchester Blvd. in Brentwood. By the early 60s, Norm began to shift the business to commercial work. And by the next decade, West Contracting was busy handling projects for municipalities, counties and eventually state highways. This led the company to establish a satellite office in Sullivan, MO. "My mother and father were from that area," remembers Larry West, the company’s current president. "They spent a lot of weekends going to that part of Missouri so they saw a need there for asphalt paving." Norm not only saw the need but he made a significant investment by opening an asphalt plant in Sullivan. This increased the company’s ability to efficiently and economically pave in that area.
Growing The Business
The basement business of Norm and Mary has since grown to 150 employees. Besides its headquarters in Brentwood and satellite office in Sullivan, there are three asphalt plants. To further expand the business, son Larry, current president, diversified the company by establishing a General Contracting Division in 2002. The company also continues to try new methods of road construction. One of these methods is Ultra Thin Asphalt (Nova Chip). Ultra Thin Asphalt (Nova Chip) is a porous asphalt for highways that reduces standing water and overspray from trucks. West Contracting has applied over 80 percent of this product in the east central part of Missouri.
Paving The Way With Trust
With 50 years of experience, West Contracting still adheres to its time-tested value of delivering its promises—on time and within budget. "You could think of its as ‘family values,’" Larry says. "Our customers give us a lot of trust; we have a tremendous number of people who call and say, ‘You did my job 10 or 15 years ago and we want you to come back.’" Quality work at a fair price has driven the company from day one. And it will continue to drive West Contracting for many years to come.