Limberlost Construction honored as Business of the Year
Sheree Barkley, executive director of the Berne Chamber of Commerce, has announced that organization’s selection of Limberlost Construction of Geneva, as this year’s Business of the Year award winner.
Barkley cited the company’s excellence in construction projects around Berne, including Swiss Village and the Swiss Clock Tower, as the reason for the award.
“Limberlost Construction has gone above and beyond in adding to the esthetic beauty of our community,” said Barkley. “We are very pleased and proud to present this award to them.”
The award will formally be given at the Chamber’s annual awards banquet which will be held at Swiss Village on Jan. 15.
Schwartz said that when his business was founded 30 years ago, if someone would have told him that he would someday stand before the Berne Chamber of Commerce and be presented the Business of the Year award he wouldn’t have believed it.
“I feel so honored,” said Schwartz. “We have been very fortunate; even during the slow times, we have managed to go forward. I feel that our company has been blessed in a lot of ways.
“We’ve had three large projects within a quarter of a mile of each other with Swiss Village, the Mennonite Church and the Clock Tower,” Schwartz said. “I feel so blessed.”
Schwartz said that the invitation to bid on private projects has been one of his greatest honors.
“On some private projects, they’ve asked me to be the construction manager. That is such an honor,” Schwartz said. “When someone says, ‘we want you to have this job,’ it is a real honor.”
Schwartz said he has enjoyed the opportunity that he often referred to as, Berne’s Main Street. His construction projects on Main Street have included Swiss Village, Mennonite Church, Clock Tower, Bixler Insurance, Hitzer warehouse, Boys and Girls Club and Bethel Brethren Church.
“We’ve been very fortunate to work in and around the city of Berne,” said Schwartz. “We really value the business relationships we have there.”
The initial beginnings of the company began in 1982 when three brothers, Marvin, Kenny and Mike Schwartz decided to start a construction business.
“We went to the bank, all three brothers, and asked to borrow $3,000 a piece to form the Limberlost check book with $9,000,” observed Schwartz.
Schwartz said that there were many area businessmen that were skeptical of their zeal and way of carrying it out.
“We thought that we knew what we were doing,” Schwartz said. “What we lacked in knowledge, we made up for in ambition. My mom (Fanny) was the bookkeeper and my dad (Amos) was the estimator.”
Schwartz noted that his dad had plenty of expertise in the commercial aspect through his business, Rainbow Construction.
“When the economy began to change, we knew that we had to be flexible and become involved in both commercial and residential,” said Schwartz.
In 1985, Schwartz decided to move to California with his wife and children to form another construction company known as Schwartz Construction.
“The business was good; we couldn’t have had it much nicer, but I didn’t like it. I missed Indiana, so my wife agreed to move back to this area,” observed Schwartz.
Schwartz credited much of his business’s success to the employees who worked with him as a team through good times and bad times to keep things solvent.
“When the recession hit, my guys told me that they were ready to take a pay cut so that I could bid lower and continue to have jobs to offer them,” said Schwartz. “Thankfully, we never got to that point.
“Anybody that has any success in business acknowledges that much of that success comes from the people around him,” Schwartz said. “I like to say that I am surrounded by 90 percent key employees and 10 percent good help. It makes a difference; I have a lot of resources to pull from to accomplish projects. It makes all of the difference in the world.”
Schwartz said that over the years, he has become more humbled by the success of his business. He recalled a special moment several years ago when he was given spiritual insight into his success.
“Several years ago, I sensed within myself the question, ‘Mike, what have you done to receive such a blessing? What did you do to be blessed this way,’” observed Schwartz.
“I realized then that I had done nothing to deserve the type of blessing God has given us and the opportunity to do work for others,” Schwartz said. “I’m not the only contractor around that does good work. I feel fantastically blessed with an outstanding crew. With the work that they’ve done, they have given me the opportunity to do more. When you have the manpower, the extra things that you can do adds up.”
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