Godbersen-Smith Construction Company’s roots trace back to 1946 when Harold Godbersen entered into a partnership with Walt Smith. The company was known as Godbersen-Smith Building and Supply Company.
In 1948, the Building and Supply became Godbersen-Smith Construction Company. Harold served as President and Secretary, while his wife, Leone, served as the Vice President and Treasurer.
Godbersen-Smith Construction was a building contractor at the time, but Harold felt the future of the company would be tied too closely to the local economy. He wanted to get into Federal and State projects. He started with culverts and bridge work in Ida County, Iowa, before branching out into the neighboring counties.
In 1948, Harold successfully bid the Kirkholm watershed east of Ida Grove. It was a joint venture with Brueck Construction of Battle Creek doing the dirt work and Godbersen-Smith in charge of the concrete work. At that time, it was only the third watershed in what was known as the Little Sioux Watershed Basin.
It proved to be the start the company needed and Godbersen-Smith bid these types of jobs with Brueck Construction for the next several years.
In 1950, Harold bid on the Haybinck watershed, joint venturing with Brown and Leguil Construction in Minnesota doing the dirt work. More watershed projects, culvert and bridge contracts followed.
Two workers for Godbersen-Smith Construction stand inside a newly constructed viaduct. The picture was taken on September 17, 1959.
Godbersen-Smith Construction builds the first approach for the 310 foot (94.5 m) long camelback, high truss bridge spanning the Little Sioux River, five miles (8 km) south of Turin, Iowa.
In 1961, Godbersen-Smith Construction Company was required to rent a bridge finishing machine to complete a bridge job they were working on in Minnesota.
In 1962, Harold and Leone Godbersen’s son, Gary Godbersen, was a new graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in Business Administration and Construction Engineering. He and wife, Sharon (McIntosh) moved to Worthington, Minnesota, and started their own bridge building company, Highway Bridge, Inc. The new company would be both partner and competitor on several bridge projects in the state of Minnesota in the next few years.
Harold started the development of his own double-oscillating screed finisher in the workshop at Godbersen-Smith Construction Company.
Harold’s first machine went to work on a bridge deck in Denison, Iowa, on April 26, 1962. The lives of Harold and Gary Godbersen would forever be changed and Godbersen-Smith Construction was at the forefront of a new concept that would revolutionize bridge deck finishing. In the early 1960s, those machines were built by his construction firm and rented to Iowa contractors for concrete bridge deck finishing. When state specifications in Iowa incorporated the use of the finisher, regional contractors began buying the machines, creating a market for this product.
This machine would lead to the founding of GOMACO Corporation in 1965, as a division of Godbersen-Smith Construction Company. GOMACO would manufacture and sell bridge deck finishers, and branch out into concrete slipform pavers, curb and gutter machines, texture/cure machines, placer/spreaders, trimmer/placers, and much more.
GOMACO was sharing office and shop space with Godbersen-Smith Construction at the time. As the new company grew, it was decided to further expand the property for GOMACO purposes, and build a new building and equipment yard for Godbersen-Smith Construction on the edge of town. Godbersen-Smith Construction moved into their new company headquarters at 5784 State Highway 175 in 1970. They are still located within these offices.
Godbersen-Smith Construction is in operation today and can be found at work on different projects in the midwestern United States. They slipform highways and barrier/bridge parapet, but the company has stayed true to its roots and continues to be bridge building and paving specialists.
Godbersen-Smith Construction Company headquarters is located at 5784 State Highway 175 in Ida Grove, Iowa. They moved into the building in 1970.
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5784 State Highway 175
Ida Grove, IA, 51445
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