A Rich Tradition of Family, Resilience, and Treating Clients Right
The Roaring 20s: An Amazing Story of American Determination
- Founded in 1918 the Lichtefeld family business began as a partnership between two young entrepreneurs Fred J. Lichtefeld and Fred Metzner. When Fred J. Lichtefeld began working as a carpenter apprentice at the age of 15 working for the Frey Planing Mill Company, Fred Metzner, was a bookkeeper for the company. Later, the two became friends and eventually decided to leave and start a new venture in the construction business. They called the partnership “Lichtefeld Metzner & Company.”
- Lichtefeld and Metzner began in the home repair and remodeling business with small projects, but their reputation for quality construction practices spread quickly. They became known around the Louisville area then expanded their capabilities. In the early 1920s, they began custom home building. The two continued with the same quality craftsmanship and moved into large, upscale residential construction during one of the most beautiful periods of architecture in American history.
- Before the fateful events in late 1929, Metzner was heavily invested in the stock market while Lichtefeld chose to save money towards his children’s future college expenses. This decision saved Lichtefeld Inc. After the crash later that year, Metzner was unable to keep up with the business and Fred Lichtefeld struggled and used this savings to keep Lichtefeld Inc. in business — when so few couldn’t say the same.
- The construction industry also collapsed and Fred Lichtefeld made the decision to do what he knew best. Going back to his roots, he focused on quality home repairs and meticulous renovations. He used his family’s savings to buy materials for small home repairs, sometimes bartering in trade for food or clothing. Fred’s dedication kept the business running during these dark times, food on the table, and a familiar face eventually stepped in to help the determined carpenter — his only son Stanley F. Lichtefeld joined in the 1930s.
- The only son of nine, Stanley F. Lichtefeld was born on March 24, 1915, and joined the family business in the 1930s. In 1935, Stanley became responsible for bookkeeping, estimating, and office management. This was the beginning of “Fred J. Lichtefeld and Son Construction Company”. For nine years Stanley helped his father grow the business back to the same reputable residential construction company the Lichtefelds were known for.
War Changes The Nation and The Company
- WWII once again challenged the determination to succeed for the Lichtefelds. In 1944 Stanley was drafted in the US Navy and went to serve his country proudly. A double-edged sword saved the family business: Fred suffered a heart attack while Stanley was serving. Fearful of losing the business and unwilling to let his illness see his family business crumble, Fred formally requested with the U.S. Navy to release his son, Stanley, to keep the firm in operation.
- Knowing that “serving” sometimes means on the home front, the Navy agreed to release Stanley with all honors around the same time the war was ending. A new business dynamic was formed, and the proud father saw his son, the craftsman and soldier, grow into an expert in field procurement and construction management.
- Stanley continued to service Fred’s clients and continued upscale home building through the 1950’s in Louisville. Because of their reputation, an architectural firm approached Lichtefeld Inc. to bid on a new church construction project — this was the beginning of the company’s commercial, office, and industrial era.
Becoming A Leader In Commercial Construction Through Strategic Partnerships
- The third generation of Lichtefeld Inc. began after Stanley’s oldest son Paul A. Lichtefeld was pressed to help the family business continue to prosper. Paul A., born in March of 1942, graduated from Trinity High School in 1960. While enrolled at the University of Louisville’s Speed School, Paul chose to leave college in 1962: Stanley was facing a cancer diagnosis.
- Like his own father returning home from WWII, Paul’s sacrifice not only cemented Lichtefeld’s continuing prosperity, but continued the family tradition of dedication, honor, and respect. Not one to be outshined by a particularly perseverant family tree, Paul chose to take the company in a new direction and left the home building business forever.
- Partnering with Pruden Building Systems (later known as Varco-Pruden Building Systems) Paul gained quite a bit of knowledge regarding project fast tracking, value engineering, and new selling techniques of the times. Because of his success in the pre-engineered building business, Paul was approached and recruited by the leading pre-engineered building company in the country: Butler Manufacturing
- Impressed with Butler’s product line, Paul decided to partner and sell buildings for Butler in the mid-1960s. As Butler is the leading pre-engineered metal building company, Paul learned a great deal regarding sales techniques and the design/build method of construction. He used all generations of knowledge passed down, combined it with his own, and drove Lichtefeld Inc. into a new era of building
Lichtefeld Inc. Now
- Now in their fourth generation, Paul A. Lichtefeld has been joined by his three sons, Paul Jr., Stanley, and Mark. Construction has been a way of life for the Lichtefeld family for over 100 years, and office, commercial and industrial buildings are their specialty. Their fundamental belief is to give each project, regardless of size and cost, the same quality construction processes while working within the clients’ budget. Their dedication to clients never ends as they stand behind their workmanship years after a project is complete.
- When you select Lichtefeld, Incorporated, you’re choosing more than 10 decades of experience and quality-assured construction methods. To this day Lichtefeld Inc. continues to represent Butler Manufacturing systems, the world’s premier manufacturer of pre-engineered metal building systems.
- See how we can help make your building a reality. Contact us