Rockford Construction is a family business in every sense of the word. Founded in 1951 by Robert Bruns as Bruns Construction Enterprises, it’s now on its third generation of workers and of Robert Bruns’ eight surviving children, all work for the company.
“Our board meetings are pretty interesting,” current RCS president Randy Bruns joked.
He explained that his father started the business over 65 years ago after finishing school and working for a time at New Idea.
“He didn’t really like that type of work, so he started working for a carpenter. He liked that work a lot better and decided to go into it on his own a few years later,” Bruns said.
He described his father as a meticulous and hard worker who had big dreams for the company.
“He took it to another level. He was always wanting to grow and do something different. But he only did that in one way – ‘do it the right way or don’t do it at all,’ that was his motto,” he said.
Bruns, whose son Jason is one of the third generation Bruns RCS employees, said that the family business also takes an interest in helping other families, especially ones in the immediate area.
“There’s so much help needed in the world but there’s also a lot of help needed locally, too,” he said, adding that while they also like to help with charities outside the area, their main focus is the surrounding community.
That’s what drew the RCS team to Lots For Soldiers. They first heard about the organization in 2014, shortly after its founding. Helping the nonprofit seemed like a good fit because of its community focus and the aid it gives to families, Bruns said.
“It was just kind of a natural decision,” he said. “It’s not only helping the veteran but it’s helping his or her whole family. … Like most people, there’s a soft spot in our hearts for children. When you help a family, you’re helping that child, those grandchildren. A good family has a sort of ripple effect.”
RCS operated as a general contractor for the recently completed Lots For Soldiers home in Rockford, the village in which RCS was founded. They helped coordinate volunteers and material donations, which both served to bring the cost of the project down.
Bruns explained that managing such a project can be a bit of handful because of the unique challenges it presents. On a normal construction project, a contractor knows where everything’s coming from because it has all been selected and planned. But in a case like the Rockford house, you can’t get too far ahead of yourself.
“The next day, someone might come along and say ‘hey, I’m going to donate all the paint for that.’ Well, if you already have that ordered, that won’t work too well,” he explained. “So it’s kind of a little bumpier process. But that’s okay.”
The company helps with both finances and management, he said.
“A lot of what we try to give is peace of mind, so [Lots For Soldiers organizers] can focus on other things,” Bruns said.
Lots For Soldiers founders Homer and Carol Burnett said the aid offered by RCS and Bruns was enormously helpful in their mission to settle veterans in their dream homes.
“Lots For Soldiers exists to provide community members an opportunity to express their gratitude to local military veterans for their sacrifices. Randy Bruns represents the epitome of this expression by putting his talents and resources in action,” they said.
Bruns credited his RCS team for their generosity and willingness to pitch in, not just for Lots For Soldiers projects but with any need that arises in the community that they can help with, such as raising money for area residents facing serious illnesses or volunteering during their free time.
A giving spirit isn’t something he’s only observed in his employees and coworkers—it’s something he’s witnessed in the surrounding area time and time again.
“Everywhere you look, there are all these pockets of good. The American people are very good people,” he said. “There’s a lot of giving back.”