Random Acts of Living

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Dad Made the News!

Leaving behind a 'can-do' legacy
Eagle correspondent
Picture by staff photographer Travis Heying

Evans co-founder credits upbeat attitude for success

Harold "Harry" Heinrichs said a positive attitude has helped make his life successful. "Whatever you have to go through, you have to go through," said Heinrichs, 82, a co-founder of Evans Building Co. "Don't go around feeling sorry for yourself."

Heinrichs, who helped found the company in 1962 with John Evans and Archie Lynch, is preparing to retire in January.

For years now, he has worked three days a week, repairing equipment and tools.

Company president Bill Johnson, who is John Evans' nephew, said Heinrichs' reluctance to stop working is no surprise.

"He's got that can-do attitude," Johnson said.

To him, Heinrichs' work ethic and values have been instilled throughout the company and its more than 30 employees.

"He's been like a second father to me," Johnson said. "I want it (the company) to continue running like he's still here."

By the time he helped found the company, Heinrichs had already led a busy and interesting life.

At the age of 18, and with World War II raging in the Pacific, he joined the Marine Corps as an airman.He and his squadron, the VMSB 343, made their way to China where they began preparing for the Allied invasion of mainland Japan. But after America ended the war with the use of atomic weapons, Heinrichs returned home.

" (President) Truman saved my life," he said.

Upon his return, Heinrichs worked with his brother, Arthur, as a blacksmith, did some farming and even worked as a rancher in the mountains of Colorado, his home state.

Heinrichs then made his way east to Goodland. It was there he met and married his wife of 57 years, Lee, and became a foreman for Rhoads Construction. While at Rhoads, he met Evans and Lynch, his eventual business partners.

After the three worked as sub-contractors on the first Learjet building in Wichita in 1960, they decided Wichita might be a good location to go into business for themselves.

So, two years later, they founded Evans Building Co., which specialized in commercial and industrial construction.

Heinrichs said they initially did little work in Wichita itself.

"The Wichita market was pretty well covered at that time," he said. "We did a lot of work out of town."

Gradually, Heinrichs said they began to get more work in Wichita. At its busiest, he said, the company put up a building a week.

"We put up a lot of buildings in the last 45 years," he said, although he admitted he never kept track of exactly how many.

As he and his wife reminisced about the many jobs he had worked, one in particular stuck out in Lee Heinrichs' mind.

"I remember when you fell off the Brewster schoolhouse," she said.

"I didn't fall off, I walked off," he answered with a chuckle, recalling the 15-foot fall after a misstep while caulking the building's roof.

Heinrichs said the lessons he learned about business through the years will remain at Evans Building Co. after he's gone.

"Our goal was to have satisfied customers because that's your best sales tool," he said.

"I've learned you have to work with your customers but not let them take over your job, and treat your employees like they're working with you, not for you."

As for retirement, Heinrichs said he still plans to check in on the business every now and then.

"I intend to stay in contact, definitely," he said.

Contact Daniel McCoy at 316-268-6233 or dmccoy@wichitaeagle.com.


Kathy Frederick said...

Fantastic! This is so great and what an interesting read. Your father sounds like mine. He's where I got my work ethic from, as he was a small business owner and appreciated every single customer he had. He had to work hard to get and keep them.

Congratulations to your father for getting this huge shout-out! You must be busting with pride.

Moonshadow said...

Kathy - Thank You! My Dad has always been my hero. And the work ethic thing was just a way a life for dad, it was something that you lived, not something that you did.

Anita said...

Great article! He sounds like quite a man.

Peter said...

Hi! I knew very little of Harold "Harry" Heinrichs until now. But having read his life's history we couldn't go wrong trying to emulate his work ethics and family achievements. I congratulate him and wish him well.

Sydney Australia

Wendy said...

As I read your post about the Macy's parking garage, it brought back my own memories of enjoying the spiraling exit ramp. I haven't been in that garage for years.

What a nice article about your father.


How cool! They did a nice article about your Dad. A great honor I say! :)

Bonnie B. said...

what a beautiful story of your dear dad....And the part of "I plan to retire soon"...at 82...I honor and respect a man such as thing.....A true example to others! Especially the kids today, as so many don't have that ambition, you know? Dear one, you could have joined us for Talapia and spinach salad...I love having others join us....You would be more than welcome....I found you on dear Anita's blog...Love that woman...she is such a sweetheart and so curious about so much, and delves in and learns about so many unique things ...Her blog is so interesting, too...I've really enjoyed her friendship....you have a wonderful day and stay warm there....Bonnie B.

Lisa said...

Wow. What a wonderful article! I always knew Harry was a great man. Now others do too!

Dennis said...

Harold definitely deserves the recognition this article provides. He has been a leader, participant and cheerleader for our local chapter for years. Hail to the Chief!

daddysgirl0224 said...

Reading this article brought back memories of you telling me about your mom and dad...I know that you are very proud of him...Too bad that more people don't have his outlook on life and the way people should be treated...I congradulate him and all of his achievements...

oldgeezer said...

I enjoyed reading the articl about your Dad. He sounds like a good man.

Anonymous said...

WOW! That's my uncle!! I'm so incredibly proud, encouraged, fortified . . . .and humbled. From a Fresno, CA - RJ neice.


Hope you're all ok over there!

Moonshadow said...

I apologize for not having posted back to acknowledge the comments left in the past week, I was wanting to let them accumulate a little without my posts between everyone. Thank You, everyone for your wonderful comments. Those of you that know my dad, like my two cousins that posted, know all too well how deserving he is of this recognition. He has been a hard worker all his life because hard work is what gives him satisfaction, to him it is a joy. We should all try to think this way.