Peter Kiewit is the son of Pieter Kiewit, Sr., the co-founder of Kiewit Brothers Construction, the predecessor company of the present Kiewit Corporation. The other co-founder of Kiewit Brothers Construction was Peter’s uncle, Andrew Kiewit. The predecessor company was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1884. Peter Kiewit, the son of Pieter Kiewit, Sr., is the one who was instrumental in taking the original local building contractor, Kiewit Brothers Construction, to one of the largest international contracting and mining companies in the world with billions of dollars in annual revenue.
The founders of Kiewit Brothers construction, Pieter and Andrew Kiewit, did the masonry work on Omaha’s Lincoln Hotel in 1889, their biggest job until that date. Shortly thereafter, Andrew Kiewit left the company, and the Pieter Kiewit, Sr. continued on his own as a local building contractor. The senior Pieter Kiewit had six children, and in 1912, two of the older children, Ralph and George Kiewit, joined their father in the construction business, and the company was renamed Peter Kiewit & Sons. The senior Pieter Kiewit passed away in 1914, and his two sons, Ralph and George Kiewit, renamed the company, Peter Kiewit Sons.
In 1924, Peter Kiewit Sons won its bid on its first million dollar contract for the 10-story Livestock Exchange Building in Omaha, Nebraska. Peter Kiewit, the younger son of Pieter Kiewit, Sr., had joined the company and was the project superintendent for the project. Also in 1924, George Kiewit left the company and Ralph and Peter Kiewit jointly managed the company. Between the years 1927 and 1930, Peter Kiewit Sons built the Nebraska State Capital tower, the Joslyn Art Museum, and Union Station, all located in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1931, Ralph Kiewit decided to leave Peter Kiewit Sons, so Peter Kiewit reorganized the company and named it Peter Kiewit Sons’ Company. In that same year Peter, in order to motivate key employees, began to sell shares in the company to his senior managers. Eventually, the company became the Kiewit Corporation [Kiewit], and it became employee owned as it is until today.
During the 1930’s, the depression years, the lack of new construction work caused a difficult time for any building contractor, and the profits dried up. In the late 1930’s, Kiewit decided to look beyond the State of Nebraska for work, and opened an office in Sheridan, Wyoming, to bid on construction work in the western states.
Starting in 1939, war construction started to build, and Kiewit successfully bid on a $ 7.5 million government contract to build 760 barracks and related facilities in Fort Lewis, Washington. Shortly thereafter, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers doubled the size of the contract. So this project became the biggest contract Kiewit had ever executed. Following this project, Kiewit built many other facilities, including airfields, military bases and even a bomber plant, in the Great Plains, Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast states. Also during the war, in order to utilize equipment during the idle winter season, Kiewit began mining coal from the Big Horn mine in Sheridan, Wyoming.
Following the Second World War, Kiewit became active in the building of air bases in Thule, Greenland for the distant early warning [DEW] line. This contract kept Kiewit busy in Greenland for the next 15 years. In 1952, the Atomic Energy Commission awarded Kiewit the contract for the construction of the $ 1.2 billion Gaseous Diffusion Plant at Portsmouth, Ohio. Also during that time period, Kiewit built bases for the Strategic Air Command at Minot, North Dakota, Glasgow, Montana, and Rapid City, South Dakota. In addition, Kiewit built numerous Titan and Minute Man missile facilities in the western states.
The 1950’s saw many other development projects in which Kiewit was actively engaged. Specifically, Kiewit was involved in many projects for the interstate highway system, proposed by President Eisenhower, and approved by Congress. As a matter of fact Kiewit built more lane-miles of the interstate highway system than any other contractor. Even today, Kiewit remains one of the largest transportation system contractors. In addition Kiewit was involved in many water-related construction projects such as the Monticello Dam near Sacramento, California, the Flaming Gorge Dam on the Colorado River in Utah, the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River in North Dakota, and a number of projects related to the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway Project.
In the 1970’s, Kiewit became one of Canada’s leading contractors through its participation in the building of the dam and powerhouse facilities on the La Grande and East Rivers in Northern Quebec, as part of the massive James Bay hydro-electric project. Also during this time period Kiewit expanded its mining operations and established a separate subsidiary, Decker Coal Company, to manage its coal mining operations.
Peter Kiewit was president of the Kiewit Corporation during the time period the above projects were executed, and the company saw explosive growth. In 1969, Peter turned the presidency over to Bob Wilson, and Peter remained as chairman. In November 1979, Peter Kiewit, then 79 years old passed away from complications following the removal of a tumor on his left lung. Most of his estate went into the Peter Kiewit Foundation, one of the largest charitable foundations in the United States.
Kiewit Corporation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiewit_Corporation
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