As the Houston area has grown exponentially in the last 50 years, a family-owned company that calls Spring Branch home has literally paved the way for much of that growth.

Craig & Heidt Civil Contractors is celebrating a half-century as a business this year, with more than 40 years in its current location at 1970 Knoll Street.

Company president Sam Craig is the third generation of the family to lead the company, which started in 1959 as Craig & Kingsbery, a partnership of Charlie Craig and father-in-law Joe Kingsbery.

After Kingsbery retired, Charlie Craig met Arnold Heidt at a business event;  the two became business partners and incorporated under the current name in 1973. Sam, Charlie’s son, joined the company in 1980. He said his two sons, Joe and Paul, work for the company, continuing the tradition.

In an era of giant corporations dominating the construction industry, how is a family-owned company still going strong through decades of Houston’s infamous boom and bust cycles?

“Like any business, you just have to have good people working for you — people that are competent and capable and honest. You can’t do it all yourself,” Sam Craig said.

(Craig is at the upper right in the accompanying employee group photo).

“You have to maintain all the relationships that you need to run your business — with your employees, your customers and everybody else you need: your insurance agent, your attorney, your bankers,” he said. “You’re going to need them at some time to help you through.”

“We do civil construction, so we build roads, parking lots, storage lay-down yards, clearing; we do clearing, we do dirt work, site preparations, storm drainage,” he said. “Most of our work is petrochemical, heavy-duty industrial over on the Ship Channel side of town,” Craig said, but the company also does road construction and work for local, state and federal projects. Craig & Heidt has more than 40 full-time employees.

For Craig, Spring Branch is not only home to his business, but also his home.

“I guess I’m a little biased because I also grew up in Spring Branch. I went to elementary, junior high and senior high in Spring Branch back in the day,” he said.

He said Spring Branch is seeing a lot of growth, with new construction and young people moving in. In fact, a home construction project is underway a block or two from his office.

“I think crime is not as big a problem as in other parts of town,” Craig said. “Having both I-10 and 290 recently expanded and completed, it’s so easy to get to I-10 and 290 and get anywhere you need to go in town pretty quick. From a business standpoint, it’s a great place to have a business.”

Craig & Heidt has done work for many of the biggest names in the Houston petrochemical industry: Dow Chemical, Lyondell Citgo Refining, Kellogg Constructors, ExxonMobil, Performance Contractors, Marathon Petroleum, S&B Engineers and Constructors, Zachry Group and more.

— By Mark Fleming