This is the third story in a series about long-established local businesses in the Leavenworth area.
From building materials to concrete. Four generations of Geigers have left their mark on the town of Leavenworth as well as the Kansas City area.
Bill Geiger, chairman of Geiger Ready Mix, is part of a fourth generation in building materials. The company started in 1892 in downtown Leavenworth. Geiger said the company began with only coal, brick, block, grain and feed at the 626 Cherokee location.
"I think that railroad cars would come in and we would load off materials to our warehouse and resale building materials to our customers," Geiger said.
The present location of the first Geiger Ready Mix Company used to be an old abandoned coal mine with the office building being an apartment at one time. Geiger said that his father knew the business would grow fast in the 1950s when he started the Geiger Ready Mix company in 1949.
The company continued to blossom even when Bill was a child. He said once he was old enough to start work, he would work with his father at Geiger Ready Mix just as his father did for his father. Geiger joined the company in the late 1960's and had the idea of expanding the company across the Kansas City metro area.
"I never really thought of anything else growing up, I had two brothers and a sister," Geiger said. "I was the oldest and there was never much discussion, I'm the fourth generation and just kinda assumed that was what I wanted to do."
His father, E.W. Geiger, Jr., had made partners with a man from Liberty, MO and that would soon be the location for his son, E.W. (Bill) Geiger III, to go and learn the business side of the company. Since then, there has been several different businesses develop in the Kansas City metro area. Geiger said the company has around 170 employees working at the different locations and since the economic recovery they have been able to hire more individuals.
"We have hired some new people within the past 90 days, we hired around 20 to 25 new workers throughout the metro area," Geiger said. "It has increased, the five year decrease starting in 2006 was major, economy wise. It was big, last year we stabilized at the bottom and this year we can see it coming back up."
Geiger Ready Mix suffered during the economic downturn such as many other businesses did. However, they were able to make due and have made it out of decline and are up 10 to 15 percent this year alone. Owning a business is like a game and Geiger said you never know what's going to happen from day to day. That why he keeps the idea of the business being a game in his head. He said there's quite a bit of physical action always happening in the business world.
Page 2 of 2 - "There's a lot of sport like qualities, with the competition of winning the days battle," Geiger said. "It always fit me pretty good, with my athletic background playing into this competitive field."
Geiger believes that once you put competition aside, there's a more important role that a company plays in a community. Giving back to the community is just one of the core values of the Geiger Ready Mix company, he said the company tries to help out those who need concrete and make it financially accessible for those who need it for projects.
"We always seem to be involved, not only when they need concrete," Geiger said. "We are fortunate that we don't have to go looking for things, but you got to do your job to help the community."
The company is an independent, family owned business. Geiger said they make their our own decisions, and live with it whether they win or lose. He believes when you're running your own company, there's some satisfaction and a lot of obligations to go with it.
Geiger has been with the company for several decades and is now looking toward the future to some extent. In their company, they know that Bill is backing off. He has said it for the last couple of years, it's a family business. Geiger Ready Mix has a team led by managers who are taking over the responsibilities that Bill holds.
"I'm slowly backing off, but having fun with the company and trying to help," Geiger said. "I saw my dad back off, they are still asking me questions. When they quit asking questions, that's when you get out of the way."
Geiger enjoys his time now working at the local Leavenworth office and attending his grandchildren's sporting events. He was the creator of the expansion of the Geiger Ready Mix company in the Kansas City metro area including the cities of Kansas City, Kansas, Liberty, Olathe, Lee's Summit and Leavenworth.