Don Voss took a job driving a delivery truck at a small, local construction company shortly after he was married and in need of a job. He learned to be a carpenter, worked his way up and now owns Glenn H. Johnson Construction.
Voss has been at the company for 42 years. He has been instrumental in the growth of the general contracting firm that operates nationwide and is best known for its retail projects and churches. Its portfolio includes many Mariano's, Home Depot and other big box retail stores and churches, including Willow Creek in Glenview and the new one under construction in Crystal Lake.
Glenn Johnson started the company in the basement of his Wilmette home. As the company grew, Voss learned the ropes of the business that now employs about 20. The firm, which operates at offices and a warehouse in Des Plaines, is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a few weeks.
Johnson, who is 90 and retired in Arizona, is returning to the suburbs for an open house May 18 to celebrate the five decades.
"It has been a good run," said Voss, 63. He added there have been tough economic times along the way. A key to the growth through the slow times has been that the company had cash reserves and a "good list of clients," he said.
Voss, of Lombard, started at the company 42 years ago when the founder's son helped him get a job. Voss grew up in Villa Park and was in the middle of nine children. He married his high school sweetheart, Cheryl, from Timothy Christian High School in Elmhurst.
Like Voss, many of the employees at the construction company have been there for many years. Vice presidents Dick Hill and John Erickson both have about 20 years under their belts.
"We have a tight-knit group here," said Erickson, who grew up in a family that was in the construction industry.
The leaders of the company say they are proud of the past 50 years and the projects they have completed as well as the fact that they have built the business "upon Christian principles of honesty and integrity."