Phoenix Rises

SUNDT FIRST VENTURED INTO PHOENIX during the 1964-65 timeframe, but the project was less than auspicious. The company’s leadership became involved with a man whom they met when he was the steel supplier on the Titan II project at Vandenberg Air Force Base. He hired Sundt to do the construction work on an apartment complex, called the Bougainvillea Apartments. But it turned out that he didn’t have enough money to pay all of the bills, so Sundt ended up owning some of the units and used them to house its traveling personnel.

Phoenix Area Work Expands

About that time, Sundt started to actively pursue work opportunities in the metropolitan Phoenix area. In late 1965 the company got a job from the Long Lines Division of AT&T to build a microwave relay station near Apache Junction. Then in early 1966 Sundt was successful in obtaining the concrete work for the new Western Electric cable plant. The project was very successful for the company. In 1967 Sundt built four buildings at Williams Air Force Base and a small structural concrete project for Spreckels Sugar Company in Chandler.

Throughout this period, the bids for all projects were prepared in the Tucson office. For Phoenix projects, the final bid documents were assembled in Phoenix, either in a jobsite office or in a hotel room. In early 1968, the decision was made to set up an office in Phoenix. Jim Normand was hired to be the manager. Jim had many years of experience with a major Phoenix contractor, and his contacts with the subcontractor community were invaluable in getting Sundt’s new office up and running quickly. Another early Phoenix-office employee was J. Doug Pruitt, an estimator who moved up from the Tucson office. Doug would rise through the ranks to eventually become Sundt’s Chairman and CEO.

First Phoenix Office Opens

A temporary office trailer was set up, and a short time later the company completed its first “real” office on South 23rd Place just west of the Phoenix airport. It opened on October 31, 1968, to much fanfare. But the Phoenix office didn’t stay put for very long. Six years later
the City of Phoenix condemned the property for expansion of the Sky Harbor International Airport. At that time the staff moved to a new office on South 20th Place. (The Phoenix office was headquartered there for approximately 30 years. Sundt still owns the property. The office
building today houses the employment office, and adjacent to it are the company’s warehouse and equipment yards.)

Phoenix Success Is Launched

After setting up the Phoenix office, success came very quickly. Within a few months, Sundt was awarded the Bureau of Indian Affairs Hospital. That was the first project that was bid entirely out of the Phoenix office. On the day the company opened its new office it was awarded a design-build contract by Empire Machinery to construct its new facilities at Baseline and Arizona Avenue, between Mesa and Chandler.

In 1969, Sundt got its first job at Arizona State University (ASU). The project consisted of new locker rooms and foundations for bleachers at the football stadium. Sundt also built a data processing center for American Express.