In 1909 construction began on the Titanic at Harland and Wolff Shipyards. During that same year in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Brooks Construction Company was founded by John Foster Brooks and Lester Edward Ginn. But, unlike the maiden voyage of the Titanic that hit an iceberg and sank, Brooks Construction Company is described as “unsinkable.”
Over the last 100 years the unsinkable Brooks has paved tens of thousands of miles of asphalt and concrete roadways throughout Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.
“There are no holes in this tightly run ship,” Robert Brooks, John’s son, states as he recalls his first working assignment, “In 1937, we were doing an asphalt resurfacing job in Michigan, I was sent there because I only had to be 14 years old to get a license and I was able to drive a truck.” In the late 1980s, it was time for the next generation to take over the helm. Bob Brooks remembers how he and his brother Jim spent years trying to figure out the best way to turn the business over to their sons. “Well, …just walk away and let them run it.” Today, Bob’s son, John R. Brooks and Jim’s son, Andrew F. Brooks are at the helm.
Brooks Construction celebrated its 100th anniversary with an “invitation only” demolition derby on Saturday, September 26 at Baer Field Speedway on Winters Road.
“These boys have done some unique things,” stated 86-year old Bob Brooks during the celebration. “And this is great for a birthday party. We sent out 6,000 invitations.”
In an interview, co-owner Andrew Brooks said, “It’s not about a handful of people named Brooks that has made the company successful for 100 years, it’s the employees, past and present, the customers, the vendors, our competitors and the community at large who have made us a success. This is our thank you to all of them!”
Fifty-eight drivers representing 40 local companies competed with the finalists receiving checks to be donated to the charities of their choice. In total, $50,000 was donated to the finishers’ favorite charities.
Joe Zehr of North Eastern Group won the derby. Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center received $25,000 for being the charity of choice of North Eastern Group. Matt’s Medical Fund in care of First Bank of Berne was presented with $15,000 for the second place finish by Chad Wiegmann of Underground Pipe & Valve. And, Cancer Services of East Central Indiana received $10,000 as the chosen charity of third place finisher, Andy Licht of Broadway Trucking. A $7,000 award recognizing Tim Byer and VLF, Inc. for best-decorated car will benefit breast cancer research.
In a speech to spectators held after the derby, Brooks Construction third generation co-owner John Brooks said, “We are humbled and honored that so many companies would participate today to raise money for local charities. It has been a very satisfying way to give back to the community that has been so good to us over the years.”
Brooks Construction Company continues full speed ahead with offices in Fort Wayne, Mishawaka and Goshen and plants in Fort Wayne, Mishawaka, Goshen, Auburn, Marion and Peru.
BROOKS CONSTRUCTION TIMELINE
• 1909 First job completed – Forest Park Boulevard using asphalt
• 1911 50-year charter from State of Indiana
• First concrete road in Indiana-known as Old Maumee Road today
• “3-mile law” concrete road between Fort Wayne and New Haven
• Company used the first self-propelled concrete mixer
• 1917 First asphalt production plant was built
• 1923 Built yard and office at 1123 Barthold Street
• 1937 John’s sons enter business – James E. and Robert F.
• 1957 Awarded contract for Indiana Toll Road
• 1960 Portable Plant was designed by Bob Brooks
• 1970 Brooks leader in curb, retaining wall and concrete
• 1972 Bob’s son John Brooks employed as laborer
• 1976 Jim’s son Andrew Brooks begins work
• 1980 Company expanded to include surrounding counties
• late 1980s John R. Brooks and Andrew F. Brooks take over
• 1988 Main Office and Headquarters at 6525 Ardmore Avenue
• 1990 Premier highway contractor in NE Indiana
• 1990 Currently 5 stationary and 2 portable plants for asphalt production