Leading By Example

Shawnee Construction & Engineering prepares the next generation for leadership.
Dec 1, 2023
Jennifer Blomquist
Tim Brumbeloe
Leading By Example

It was getting late, dark and cold, but a young crew from Shawnee Construction & Engineering had a job to do and they weren’t going to stop until it was done.

“We were doing a concrete pour and the guys didn’t finish until 8:30 p.m.,” says Matt Schenkel, President of Shawnee. “Nobody complained. They just kept working until they had completed the project. That’s how we do things. It’s not about us. It’s about doing the right thing for the customer and getting the job done to their satisfaction.”

That’s the philosophy instilled in Schenkel by his father, John A. Schenkel, who founded the family-owned and operated business in Fort Wayne in 1968. With Matt and his brother John Jr. now at the helm of the business, they are making plans for the next generation to take their place.

“My youngest son is a high school senior and wants to get involved with the business,” says Matt. “John has a son who works with us in the field and now his son-in-law, Ross Haffner, is our Vice President of Operations. “We like to think our relatives have the same work ethic and values that we do and, hopefully, they will instill those values in others at the company.”

“One of the key components to understanding how the business runs is through an extended transition period – I mean years and years of coming into the company and learning from the generation who has been here for 20, 30 and 40 years,” says Haffner. “Some of these younger men and women have been with us for six and seven years, and now they’re becoming well-formed superintendents and well-formed carpenters. They’re learning by example about the values of the company and how we treat the customer, and how we move the company forward to the next generation”

Both Matt and Haffner say they are pleased and impressed with the strong level of respect, integrity and communication they see in the younger employees.

“Our situation is really no different than what many other businesses are experiencing right now,” says Matt. “As more and more baby boomers reach retirement age and prepare to leave the business, we have to plan for the future. It’s important to us to keep Shawnee family-owned and operated and going strong like it has the last 55 years.”

“As much as I often just want to grab the reins and run with it, I know there’s a lot to learn from Matt and John,” says Haffner. “They built this company with a certain set of values and understanding, and I have to take the time to understand that history and take the time to implement those philosophies as we move forward.” 

Back Row (L-R): Michael Tippmann, Peter Tsuleff, Bailey Davis
Middle Row (L-R): Dylan Gerig, Joel Barker, Ben Puitz, Eric Frentz, Ross Haffner
Front Row (L-R): Cody Sierra, Evan Potthoff, Mitchell Schenkel, Darrick Marquart

Shawnee Construction & Engineering

Address: 7701 Opportunity Drive, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825

Phone: (260) 489-1234

Website: shawneeconstruction.com

Years in Business: 55

Number of Employees: 38

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

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