A Letter From Grandma

Good morning, Zak. It’s 4:30 a.m. March 10th. Since you & your dad are composing the history on Victor Construction, I thought I’d tell you the entire history since I was there from day one. It was December 1954 when Poppa sat with me and said he wanted to leave his job but his boss had drawn up a contract for the salesmen to sign. One of the things on that contract was that if you left the company you will not (cannot) go into the same business within a certain radius for five years. Poppa always said he would someday own his own business and since he was selling home remodeling services, he knew that was the business he would go into someday. We had moved in September 1954 from a $30 monthly rent to a $130 month rent, which was a BIG jump then. We also had a three year old, a six month old baby and I was pregnant with your dad who was due in March.For us to take this big step at this time was indeed daunting. And when I say we, Poppa and I were a team, a partnership from the day we married. So that’s what we did. We decided on the name Victor because of his dad’s name and Poppa’s middle name.

Although I had my hands full with two children and one on the way, we formed the company and I did the bookwork and kept the records while Poppa tried to find customers. We advertised in the New World (a Catholic weekly paper). It took from January 1955 to April before a lead came in. Needless to say, we tightened our belts as soon as the business was started because we knew we had to live on our savings, as well as support Victor with our savings. It was touch and go. At one point, Poppa wanted to cancel the ad in the paper because he was getting no results. I encouraged him to hang in there, as it takes time for people to respond to a new advertiser. He continued to work out of the house as his office and I continued to pay the bills for us & Victor. By this time, your dad was born.

As business grew Poppa stared hiring carpenters and made one of them the boss over them. He rented office space on Chicago Ave. and eventually had his own carpentry crew, concrete crew, salesmen, receptionist and a book keeper. He was 27 years old.

We built our house in Park Ridge in 1956-57 and moved in now with four children. We moved in April of 1957 and in November of 1957, his bookkeeper told him that Victor was drastically losing money. He had to slowly let go of all his work force and he was alone. We had bought a building on Lake St. in Chicago and Poppa made offices upstairs and rented the ground floor to some company. This is where he was for a few years. He would not file bankruptcy and it took him 10 years to pay off that debt. He did it by using the money received from a job to pay the expenses on that job, feed and house his family, and pay off debts. He had to now get out of the building on Lake St. (rented it to pay the mortgage on it) and move his office to our house in Park Ridge. That is when his dad came over once a week and did his accounting. It wasn’t much to do since he had no payroll except his salary and a little work. By this time we had five children.

I took an accounting class at night and then I did the accounting until the time I retired in 1995. Even at a young age, all of our children “worked” for the company. Your dad & Uncle Bob labored on jobs. Aunt Pam stuffed envelopes (we had a mailing list being sent out). Aunt Peggy & Aunt Kathy also did this job. So you see, it was truly a family business, even at that time.

After two years of college, Uncle Bob came on as an employee. His job was to canvas businesses to find work. (By this time, Poppa had started to go for companies and slowly get out of home remodeling). Three years later, you dad came on board. He took six months off to travel the country on his motorcycle then came back to work.

Going back a bit – Poppa was President, Uncle Bob was Vice President, I was secretary, and your dad was Treasurer. Upon Poppa’s death, Uncle Bob became President and your dad became Vice President. Since I had already retired, Aunt Peggy was Secretary of the corporation. She worked for Victor for almost 25 years.

So when Uncle Bob retired, your dad became the sole owner of Victor Construction.

If you have any questions you can call me.