In 1951, John Roodvoets gave his son Roger and his friend Elwin Kamminga permission to start their bulldozing company out of his garage. From that beginning – digging basements with a Cat D2 and a Cat D4 – the two friends established the foundation for what has become an industry leader in roadbuilding and underground utility construction. With offices in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Tampa, Florida, K&R has grown into a successful and highly regarded contractor with more than 200 employees, building projects ranging in size from city street intersections to highway interchanges.
The decade of the 50’s brought gradual growth to K&R. Between 1951 and 1956, the partners added a crane, a Cat D6, a Cat D7, and several dump trucks. The company moved from digging basements to building entire residential developments. K&R finished the decade as a subcontractor installing underground pipe on the new US131 expressway and expanded to constructing county road projects.The 1960’s was a decade of significant change. In 1962, its current location on Broadmoor Ave was established, utilizing a building salvaged during the US131 construction. In 1966, the company became a corporation and added scrapers to the equipment fleet. The work expanded to larger highway, underground and airport projects as K&R began the transition from sub-contractor to prime contractor on local projects as well as MDOT projects.
This transition continued in the 1970’s as K&R continued to grow its residential and commercial development business, building plats and site work for shopping malls and retail centers. Larger highway and airport projects were built, including US131 north to Big Rapids. The 70’s also saw the company move in other directions as well. It was during this decade that K&R formed Laser Alignment, a venture which took laser beam technology to the next level by developing and patenting the first sewer and grade lasers to be used in the excavating industry. K&R also began Kros Konveyors, a company which designed and built backfill conveyors for the efficient backfill of sewer trenches. Sadly, it was also a decade of loss when first in 1975, Roger Roodvoets died from a heart attack at the age of 47 and then in 1978 when Elwin Kamminga succumbed to a battle with cancer at the age of 51. But the same visionary leadership that had helped them grow K&R, also led them to begin the process of raising up new leaders in the early 70’s. Thus, the company was able to continue the founders’ vision into the next decade and beyond.
In 1981, K&R started a division in Tampa, Florida. Initially staffed with Michigan employees, the Tampa division pursued and built underground and road projects with the same dedication and integrity that has become a K&R hallmark. Both Michigan and Florida divisions continued to grow through the 90’s and in to the new century, taking on airport runway work in Michigan, Florida and Memphis, Tennessee. K&R also built major highway systems such as M6, US131 around Cadillac, and US127 around St. Johns.
Throughout our growth, we have maintained the vision first developed by our founders – put employees first, promote innovation, and above all, keep an eye towards the future and all of its possibilities.
In the words of one of our long time employees…
“Over the years I have seen many changes at K & R, but I have also observed that while there have been changes in ownership, the foundational business ethics have stayed consistent. These ethics include: dealing with customers and suppliers with honesty and respect, providing equal opportunity to employees and rewarding positive performance, providing a pay and benefit program that protects employees while maintaining a competitive position in our industry. K & R has been, and I expect will remain, one of the premier companies to work for.”