Originally founded in 1890, Sundt Construction Company was family run until 1972, when it began the transition to an employee-owned company by replacing an existing profit-sharing program with a stock bonus trust. Sundt had its share of ups and downs, but in 1992 when J. Doug Pruitt took over as the company’s COO, the company was headed toward bankruptcy. ‘We [Sundt] did all the things you would expect of a great company. We took care of our employees; we treated our subcontractors well; we gave back to our community. Unfortunately, that didn’t keep us out of trouble,’ recalls Pruitt, the recently retired CEO. Substantial losses on key projects, extensive litigation, a lack of focus, and a lack of innovation all contributed to the company’s crisis. To address these issues and reinvigorate the company, Pruitt overhauled corporate policies to remove inefficiencies, establish corporate consistency, and promote innovation.
Today, the 100 percent ESOP-owned company operates out of eight offices located in Arizona, California, Texas, and North Carolina, and works on large construction projects in both the public and private sectors. In addition to becoming one of the leading innovators in their field, the employee owners at Sundt have seen an over 900 percent increase in the value of the company’s stock since its low in 1998.