When the Going Gets Tough...

The owners of Shawnee Construction & Engineering in Fort Wayne find creative ways to work around the pandemic and supply chain issues.
Dec 3, 2021
Jennifer Blomquist
Jeffrey Crane

Thinking outside of the box has never been more crucial in the construction industry than now.

“Project management has become more difficult and critical,” says John Schenkel, Jr., vice president of Shawnee Construction & Engineering. “Even so, our clients know they can depend on us for any project, no matter the size.”

Schenkel’s father, John A. Schenkel, founded the company 53 years ago as a residential/insurance loss construction company, but later switched to a commercial and industrial construction company. Countless iconic and meaningful structures in northeast Indiana are the work of Shawnee, also known for its commitment to providing outstanding service and workmanship to every client. 

Shawnee’s longtime reputation has made the company a gold standard in the construction industry. Ninety-five percent of Shawnee’s business comes from referrals, as the company focuses on life cycle construction – meaning Shawnee is involved with a building for its entire life cycle, from design and construction to yearly maintenance and remodeling.

“With everything going on right now, we’ve had to explore ideas for different construction systems and methods than what is traditionally used, and incorporate them when it makes sense in order to keep projects on schedule,” says Matt Schenkel, president of Shawnee and John’s brother. “Our dedicated staff will do what it takes to meet customer demands.”

Both Matt and John credit Shawnee’s staff with not only their skills, but their willingness to work around obstacles, such as the ongoing pandemic.

“We’ve increased the amount of training for our new hires to handle the workload and we’ve also increased overtime and weekend hours,” says Matt.

“We lock in pricing as soon as a contract is awarded,” says John. “We’ve increased the number of suppliers we work with to find out who has the products we need and how quickly we can get them. We schedule project start dates based on material availability. We don’t want to begin a project and then pull off because we don’t have the material.”

No doubt, Matt and John’s knowledge of the industry and their contacts have helped them navigate these issues as well as issues in the past.

“When you run into an obstacle, you work around it,” says John. “Over the years, we have built and remodeled many medical offices and retail spaces. Those businesses need to be open during their regular hours, so we find ways to get the project done while allowing the business to operate normally. That often means working overnights or weekends when the businesses are closed. We’ve also had circumstances where we encounter things during construction we didn’t anticipate, such as hidden pipes or soil issues. We figure out how to work around it and keep the project moving.”

With Shawnee being a family-owned business, Matt and John have always put heavy emphasis on their dad’s philosophy about customer satisfaction.

“That was his number one priority,” says Matt. “He always said, ‘Give the best customer service you can and do what you can to make everybody happy, and the business will take care of itself.’ Whether you are a new customer or someone we’ve had a long relationship with, you will get the best customer service we can possibly provide.”

Shawnee Construction & Engineering

Owner(s): Matt Schenkel, President & John Schenkel, Jr., Vice President

Address: 7701 Opportunity Drive, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Phone: (260) 489-1234

Website: shawneeconstruction.com

Years in Business: 53

Number of Employees: 40 full time, 12 part time

Products & Services: Commercial and industrial construction; remodeling and maintenance

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