History of Sundt Construction
Sundt was founded in 1890 by Mauritz Martinsen Sundt, a Norwegian ship carpenter who immigrated to the United States as a teenager. The company’s early projects – mostly homes and farm structures – centered around its headquarters in Las Vegas, N.M., until it was hired to build a Methodist Church in Tucson, Ariz., in 1929.
The project was directed by John Sundt, one of Mauritz’s 12 children, who liked Tucson so much that he decided to stay. During the 1930s he bought out his father’s interest, relocated the company to Tucson, and renamed it M.M. Sundt Construction Co. During the 1930s, Sundt was awarded six projects for the University of Arizona in Tucson that were funded by the Public Works Administration, a depression-era federal agency.
In 1942, the company was given the daunting task of building an entire town in New Mexico for a super-secret government project. In just 14 months Sundt built homes, research buildings, and the infrastructure to support a community of military and technical personnel. It wasn’t until 1945 that the company learned the facility’s true purpose. The project was Los Alamos, where the first atomic bomb was developed that ended World War II.
In 1952, Sundt diversified its operations by entering the heavy construction field. Its first project of this type was a new 14,000-foot runway at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson. Over the ensuing years, M.M. Sundt would become one of the state’s leading heavy construction contractors.
During the 1960s Sundt continued to be one of Arizona’s top contractors, building highways, commercial buildings, schools and medical facilities. Milestone projects built during this decade include the Kitt Peak Observatory in southern Arizona.The company ventured into the international arena in 1962 with the construction of sewage treatment facilities in Trinidad, West Indies. In 1966, the company opened a regional office in Phoenix, and in 1965 the company took its first steps to becoming an employee-owned corporation.
The 1970s were explosive years for the company, with more than 700 projects completed within the decade, including the relocation of the London Bridge to Lake Havasu, Arizona. Sundt also expanded its overseas operations, formed and acquired subsidiary companies and opened branch offices. The ’70s also saw the company’s largest international project, which involved the construction in Saudi Arabia of condominiums, detached homes, schools, and petroleum engineering facilities. This work lasted into the mid 1980s and had an estimated total value of $750 million.
In the 1980s, Sundt embarked on a remarkable expansion and became a prominent industrial contractor, building major mining projects and power plant additions in Arizona and New Mexico. The company’s many commercial projects included office buildings, medical facilities and educational projects in the Phoenix area.
Sundt also built numerous projects in Southern Arizona including the award-winning Loews Ventana Canyon Resort Hotel and several buildings at the University of Arizona. The company’s Highway Division was awarded several major Arizona freeway projects, and Sundt became known as one of the country’s top contractors for slipformed concrete building cores.
During this time, Sundt also entered the field of military family housing and added a new subsidiary, Ninteman Construction Co., Inc., a well known general contractor in San Diego. (Ninteman later became Sundt’s Southern California office.)
During the 1990s the company continued its expansion into the California market by acquiring Earl Construction Company, which served clients in the Sacramento area. (It is now the company’s Northern California office.) Thanks to its rapid growth, both geographically and in the types of projects it constructed, the company was consistently listed by ENR Magazine as one of the 100 largest contractors in the nation. From its humble beginnings, Sundt has grown into a company that now operates throughout the United States, building a wide variety of projects for public and private clients.