Stein Construction

PO Box 5246
Chattanooga, TN 37406
(423) 698-0271

History

Stein Construction - Chattanooga TennesseeIt is likely that any Chattanoogan who draws a glass of tap water, flushes a toilet, drives along a city street, parks in a shopping center lot, boards an airplane at Lovell Field, or goes about any other facet of day-to-day life will come in contact with the work of Stein Construction Company. The firm’s successful projects are an important part of the city’s history and its future.

A Log Cabin of Stone.
On a shelf in the office of Douglass Stein, chairman of the board of Stein Construction Company, sits a small model of a log cabin, intricately carved out of Bedford limestone. That carving represents the physical beginning of Stein Construction Company, which, since 1912, has grown into one of Tennessee’s most prominent engineered construction companies.

It all started in Indiana around 1885, when a young man named John Adam Stein wanted a job at a limestone quarry. To demonstrate his skills, he carved the log cabin; that was enough to convince the managers to hire him as a stone cutter.

In 1889, Stein found his way to Chattanooga, where he got a job as foreman of Chickamauga Quarry and Construction Company, near the site of Lovell Field.

One of his first jobs was to build the foundation and marble base of the old Patten Hotel. Another job involved cutting and placing the limestone curbs on Market Street---curbs that were reset by his great-grandson sixty-five years later and are still in use.

With some prodding from his wife, Stein went into business for himself in 1912. He saw that poured-in-place concrete was replacing limestone as the chief building material of the day, and he quickly converted to that product. One of the new company’s first jobs was to supply curbing for five miles of roadway in North Chattanooga that had just been annexed to the city.

From Cows to Concrete
The firm slowly grew and prospered and in 1928, Stein’s son, J. Gilbert Stein, joined up. “If it wasn’t for the fact that I was a failure at dairy farming, I would never have gotten into the business,” laughs J. Gilbert Stein. “But I had to get into something quickly, so I got into construction.”

In fact, the younger Stein, who graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in agriculture, had the largest dairy operation in Hamilton County; but it and many others were laid low when Bangs’ disease became widespread among cattle in the 1920s.

At Stein Construction, one of J. Gilbert’s first jobs was construction of the old 38th Street Bridge across Chattanooga Creek. In 1933-34, he was responsible for building the Cummings Highway Bridge across the face of Lookout Mountain.

Built From the Ground Down
Picking up where his father left off, J. Gilbert never hesitated to move the company in new directions. In the late 1930s, the company entered what he calls its “utility phase,” designing and constructing the city’s 50-million gallon water intake, as well as water distribution systems in East Brainerd, Hixson, Catoosa County, Wauhatchie, and Walden’s Ridge. The firm also built many sewer lines, including a 1,000 foot tunnel through Stringer’s Ridge to accommodate Chattanooga’s outfall sewage.

“We’re like undertakers,” says Stein. “Our best work is underground.”

Current company President, Douglass Stein, adds, “We like to think that we have helped build Chattanooga from the ground down.”

After the “utility phase,” the company entered the industrial phase, building the Wheland Gun Plant (now the site of the Komatsu factory), many of the industrial docks along the Tennessee River at Chattanooga, and much of the rehabilitation of the Volunteer Ordinance Works, as well as many construction projects at Baylor School.

During that time, the third generation of Steins entered the business. Gilbert T. Stein and John Douglass Stein began playing important parts in the company and continued to do so until Gilbert T. retired for health reason and John Douglass passed away. They led the company into earth moving operations in the 1970s.

Fourth Generation Management
Now, most day-to-day operations are managed by the fourth generation. F. Douglass Stein serves as President and Treasurer, and Joe Brown is Vice President of Construction. Other principals in the firm include Tom Kitsmiller, Vice President in charge of the paving division; Ken Young, Vice President in charge of estimating, and Denise Ridge, comptroller.

Major projects of the company include the complete reconstruction of 4th Street in downtown Chattanooga; the complete construction for Renaissance Park, an environmentally centered public park built under a Brownfield agreement; the reconstruction of Riverfront Parkway as part of Chattanooga's 21st Century Waterfront project; complete construction of Black Creek Club, the only golf course in Tennessee to be ranked in the Top 100 residential golf courses in America; major plant renovations for Miller Industries, Covenant Transport, and Komatsu (all featuring roller compacted concrete pavement); all the earthwork, paving, and utility work for The Honors Golf Course; excavation for the Tennessee Aquarium; demolition of Wheland Foundry and US Pipe plants in Chattanooga, including some environmental remediation; much of the earthwork and paving at the airport; and involvement in many phases of the construction of two FedEx facilities in Chattanooga, including property acquisition, negotiation of the sale, closure of a permitted landfill, grading, drainage and the management of archaeological discoveries on one of the sites.

Stein Construction has also been involved in many industrial, commercial and residential developments, and the firm is a part of the development ownership at Black Creek, which plans to become the largest residential development in Hamilton County.

In 1988, Stein Construction Company's contributions were recognized by the construction industry when it was awarded the coveted SIR (skill, integrity, responsibility) from the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee.

In recent years, the firm has also added a wood products division which imports flooring, siding, decking and other finished wood products from all over the world, with a special relationship with Leitinger Industries, producer of Siberian Larch products from Russia.

The company also operates under its umbrella the independently owned environmental and water quality contractor Earthscapes, which performs connstruction site water quality, living walls, green rooves, Eco Paving, and other recycled and water quality services using state of the art technologies.

A Tradition of Community Service
The company has made its mark on Chattanooga through more than its construction work. Every generation has been active in civic and social programs. J. Gilbert Stein has served as president of the Chamber of Commerce and Civitan Club and, in 1982, was named recipient of the Arthur Veith Memorial Award for contributions to the community.

Gilbert T. Stein was a founding member of the Scenic Cities Beautiful Commission, vice president of the Jaycees, president of the Civitan Club, and a member of the Hamilton County School Board. J. Douglass Stein served on the board of the Chattanooga Bicentennial Library, was secretary of the Civitan Club, and as active with the Allied Arts. And Douglass and Taylor Stein continue the tradition through service to organizations such as the United Way, the American Cancer Society, Baylor School, and the Urban League.