John Morgan, respected businessman, engineer, and pioneer in the St. Louis foundation industry, passed away on April 8, 2016.
Mr. Morgan is known in the construction industry for turning a pile-driving company into a full service provider of foundation support methods.
Mr. Morgan joined the Smith-Brennan Pile Company in 1959, seven years after graduating from Washington University. Upon graduation, he had moved to Ohio to work as an engineer for an atomic energy plant, but returned to St. Louis in 1958 to work for Tarlton Corporation. A chance meeting at a bird dog field trial put him on a new course. There he met Edwin Kuntz, owner of Smith-Brennan. The shared a passion for bird dogs, construction, and new technology.
Mr. Morgan joined Smith-Brennan with the goal of developing a new division of the company to offer customers new, economical alternatives of foundation support, including drilled caissons, which called for drilling holes into the ground and filling the holes with poured concrete reinforced by steel rods.
Mr. Morgan became president of the company in 1968 and became owner in 1984, after which he renamed it Subsurface Constructors to better reflect the company’s range of services. He became chairman of the company in 1998 and handed the day-to-day reins of the company to his sons Jim and Jeff.
During his time at Subsurface Constructors, Mr. Morgan was involved with the construction of many of the major structures in the St. Louis area, including: the Arch, the Hyatt Regency at the Arch, much of the BJC complex, parts of the University of Missouri in St. Louis, Alton Memorial Hospital, Boeing, the Missouri Historical Society, the Scott Trade Center, the Metrolink Cross County Extension, I-270, and Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
He also was active in industry associations, serving as president of the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis and the St. Louis Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Under the leadership of his sons Jim and Jeff, Subsurface Constructors has continued to embrace useful new technologies, such as vibro stone columns, and expanded nationwide. Last year the company opened its first branch office in Massachusetts.