When reflecting on Mr. Dunn’s influence over 100 years, three key areas prominently come to light: family, philanthropy, and building. Mr. Dunn’s genuine commitment to treating others as he would want to be treated has made a bold and lasting impact on the people and communities he has served. From his strong family values and moral fortitude, to building inspired places and serving others, there is so much to be celebrated as Mr. Dunn celebrates his centennial birthday.
No one knows the ins and outs of construction quite like Mr. Dunn. He first started working in construction in the early 1940s as a laborer at JE Dunn. After graduating college, and with some encouragement from his father to choose construction over other paths, he was hired as a project manager and estimator in 1946. He went on to work 73 consecutive years at JE Dunn before retiring in January 2020. Laborer, estimator, chairman emeritus—Mr. Dunn held a variety of roles over his decades at JE Dunn. His passion was unstoppable, which often meant 12-hour days and sometimes midnight shifts from home.
While we call him the heart and soul of the company, Mr. Dunn’s impact is seen far beyond JE Dunn, throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area and our 26 JE Dunn offices around the country. From his first large-scale project – a five story addition to St. Mary’s Hospital – to the Worlds of Fun amusement park, the revival of Union Station, world-renowned Kauffman Performing Arts center, and so many more, Mr. Dunn has shaped skylines and significantly impacted so many people and projects along the way. He co-founded the Labor Management Council of Greater Kansas City in 1979 and was the former chairman of the Builders’ Association and the Associated Contractors.
“The only thing JE Dunn builds better than buildings are relationships.” As projects come and go, building relationships has always remained the biggest factor on each project. Mr. Dunn lives by the golden rule in all that he does, treating everyone the way he would want to be treated. This has meant saving clients money whenever possible, completing projects with the utmost levels of safety and quality, and making sure the finished project is one that the client is happy with and everyone is proud of. He has always believed in giving clients more than 100 percent, and that work ethic has made the company the success it is today.
Mr. Dunn has also insisted that the company success is shared with JE Dunn employees and that they receive the benefits of the company’s success. Today, this is done through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan which began in 2011.
Mr. Dunn’s values and beliefs are the driving force behind what JE Dunn stands for. Those who work at JE Dunn continue to follow his philosophy to build inspired places and regularly volunteer their time. His mentoring, nurturing, and strong leadership has made an award-winning and hugely successful company approaching its own centennial next year, and it is an honor to celebrate his 100th Birthday.
“I’ve learned so much from Mr. Dunn over the years. A lot of leaders and mentors will say great, inspiring things, but it’s so much more powerful when you see them live their lives that way.” -Gordon Lansford, JE Dunn President & CEO