Changes to the Business
Sargent’s business began to boom in the early ‘80s along with the recovery of the economy. The business expanded outside of Missouri through government contract jobs in states like Texas, Louisiana, and Kentucky, while still keeping plenty of work going close to home in Fredericktown. Sargent’s reputation continued to grow as an excellent general contractor who specialized in pre-engineered metal buildings.
While the 80s brought much success to the business, they also dealt a terrible blow in April of 1987 when Don Sargent was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Even through the shock and grief, there was never any question if the company should continue. The work ethic and reputation established by Don rallied everyone around continuing his work. His daughter, Renee, moved back home from St. Louis, where she was working as a civil engineer, and took over as company president.
From the beginning, Sargent Construction has aimed to be more than just a job for its employees. Leading by Don’s example, the culture of Sargent continues to be more like a family. Sargent believes that loyalty and respect are earned, hard work should be rewarded, and the best investment a business can make is in its people. This company philosophy has lead to low turnover, increased production, and a truly dedicated workforce for the last several decades. Sargent can count on its people because its people know they can count on Sargent.
Beginnings of a long-term partnership in the late 80s
As the Gilster Mary Lee Corporation, a private-label food manufacturer based in Chester, Illinois, expanded into Missouri, they sought out contractors for their new facilities and entered a rewarding partnership with Sargent. The company moved from working on buildings with an average of around 10,000–15,000 square feet to a 250,000 square foot food distribution center for Gilster Mary Lee.