1946: Allan Gerke and Sons opens for business
Allan Gerke opens his business in Tomah, Wisconsin, a year later he purchases a dump truck and starts hauling sand and gravel, and in the late 1950s he expands his business to include hauling freight. By 1962, the founder’s oldest son, Richard, joins the company on a full-time basis, and three years later, with the firm growing at a fast clip, Allan’s younger son, Paul, also joins.
1970: Company lands first major project
The Blue Wing Mission project is a sprawling housing complex on the Ho Chunk Indian reservation. Gerke Excavating is contracted to excavate 30 basements and handle all of the complex’s exterior work, including driveways, backfilling, and black dirt. Not long afterwards, the company lands a similar contract for 30 family units at the Stock Bridge Indian reservation in Bohler, Wisconsin. In the late 1970s, the firm wins a major contract to provide 100,000 tons of gravel per year to the Fort McCoy military base near Tomah. In the years that follow, Gerke Excavating works on numerous US military projects for Fort McCoy as well as Volk Field, an Air National Guard base in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin.
1978: The sons assume control
Paul and Richard, both of whom have been working for their father since graduating from high school, take over the company. Gerke Excavating has four trucks, one bulldozer, and one backhoe. By 2011, comparatively, the company will have more than 200 pieces of equipment, including 28 quad-axle trucks; 2 single-axle trucks; 19 excavators; 5 compactors; 16 bulldozers; 20 loaders; 10 posi-tracks; numerous pumps, hand compactors, and pickups; and more.
1990: A large family-housing project
The company is tapped by the US government to work on a project involving 80 houses to be built for military officers on an 80-acre site. Valued at $600,000, it is one of Gerke Excavating’s biggest government projects. But it also means more hoops to jump through, so the company hires more office employees to handle the extra paperwork and payroll.
1995: The third generation signs up
Paul’s oldest son, Jay, decides to work for the company as a construction supervisor, estimator, and scheduler, ensuring a third generation of Gerkes will be around to continue guiding the family business. Three years later, Paul’s youngest son, Chad, comes on board full-time as a construction supervisor and overseer of the company’s quarry and sand-mine business.
2009: Combined Arms project
Gerke Excavating is contracted to work on the 80-acre Combined Arms site featuring different structures and landscapes meant to simulate the diverse culture and geography found on the globe’s seven continents. Unique among the company’s projects, the site is used for the multipurpose training of troops.
2011: Gerke Excavating expands
In order to offer its clients a more complete, seamless work process, the company acquires a water-and-sewer company. According to Richard, this acquisition will not only allow the company to undertake more utility work; it will also mean more jobs and more employees. “Owning a water-and-sewer company allows us to have more control over the jobs we work on,” he says. “We are able to bid [on] more jobs as the general contractor, and we don’t have to wait for others to ready the site for us.” ABQ