A Solid Foundation
Lee Smith is continuing a family business that has been around for just over 50 years.
Smith is the owner of Smith Concrete Construction in Blue Earth.
“My grandfather, Lowell, started the company in 1969,” Lee says. “He had been doing some small concrete projects in the East Chain and Fairmont areas for several years before that.”
But in 1967 Lowell Smith moved to Blue Earth to take a job with the city, Lee says. But just a couple years later he decided to start his own concrete construction company.
“My dad, Steve, and his two brothers, Dave and Marlin, joined my grandpa in the business and it became a family deal,” Lee says. “Then in 1993 my dad took it over, until 2015, when I took it over.”
In the early days it was a lot of block work, building walls with concrete block. That lasted a long time, through the 1960s, 70s and 80s, Lee recalls. Nowdays, it is not so much he adds.
“My dad stopped with the block walls and went to poured concrete basement walls back in about 1990,” Smith says.
Lee and his crew of four full-time and two part-time employees keep very busy during the concrete season, which runs from April through October usually.
“We do it all,” he explains. “From foundations, sidewalks, driveways, chimneys and patios to shed floors, curb and gutter, grain bin pads and concrete for cattle and hog buildings.”
Anything that needs to be made out of concrete.
But, that is not all, Lee Smith says. They also do decorative work, like stamped concrete for driveways and patios, colored concrete and decorative design work.
Stamped concrete is the process of adding texture and color to concrete to make it resemble stone, brick, slate, cobblestone and many other products found in nature. There is almost a limitless array of possibilities.
The process involves pressing molds into the concrete while it is still in a plastic phase. Coloring the concrete is achieved by using a variety of processes.
Stamped concrete may be used on driveways, patios, commercial roads and parking lots and even interior floors.
Lee Smith says every year seems to be different than the one before as far as his company goes.
“We really get a variety of work,” he explains. “One year we might do a lot of tear out, removal and replace projects. The next year it could be floors for new garages, sheds and other buildings. It varies all the time.”
But, he adds, they usually do around three to five new houses every year, and at least 12 to 15 driveways.
“One year we might do a lot of stamped, or exposed aggregate and other decorative concrete work, but some years, like last year, it was only a couple jobs of that,” he says. “You just never know, we just see how it goes. It is whatever the people want.”
And Smith Concrete Construction has a reputation for doing just what the customer wants and doing it well.
“We cover a pretty large area, about a 70-mile radius around Blue Earth,” he says. “Once in a great while we do get as far away as Rochester, Windom or the south side of the Twin Cities. But our customer base is Blue Earth, Wells, Fairmont, Mankato and this area.”
Lee is a 1999 graduate of Blue Earth Area High School. He and his wife, Beth, have three children and live in Mankato, where Beth works at the Mayo Mankato Clinic. Mankato is about halfway between his family in Blue Earth and hers in Eden Prairie, Lee said.
Now that it is getting towards the end of March, Lee Smith is busy working on lining up work for the spring, summer and fall.
“Our long-time foreman took another job, so I will be busy supervising the work, lining up the work schedules, getting bids done,” he says. “And we hope to get nice weather for all the projects we have. It is always interesting.”
Anyone interested in discussing concrete work with Lee Smith, can call him at Smith Concrete Construction at 507-525-4950.