When Joe and John Riley started their construction business in the spring of 1974, they bought a 1948-model loader to do some small jobs on weekends and evenings. A few months later, the brothers purchased a dozer and added some jobs for farmers. Since they didn't own hauling equipment, they would crawl the dozer along the road from one job to the next. Joe Riley began working the business full-time, but because the work wasn't bringing in a lot of money, John kept his job working for a Morris construction company. The brothers would split John's paycheck and whatever else their business brought in to make ends meet. When they were able to buy a scraper, John quit his construction job, 'we were not into contracting then' Joe Riley said, 'we did not have enough equipment, we had no employees and we couldn't get a bond. We did private work, a lot of site work', 'He ran the dozer, and I ran the scraper' John said.
Today, Riley Bros (including Riley Bros. Construction, Inc. and Riley Bros. Properties, LLC is a multi-million dollar operation employing 150 people in three states. Over 40 years after beginning with little more than ambition and the dirt under their nails.
From their humble beginnings, Riley Bros. Construction now specializes in road construction, building site preparation, building demolition, land clearing, bituminous paving, sand and gravel work. The 1948 loader with which they started the business has given way to hundreds of pieces of construction equipment, including: dozers, scrapers, loaders, cranes, backhoes, motor graders, rollers & packers, semi-tractors & quad-axle dump trucks, service trucks, water trucks and utility trucks. The operation today includes equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, mechanics, foremen, construction supervisors and office personnel.
In 2018, the company embarked on a $56 million project in Sioux Falls SD. Riley Bros. which included reconstructing Veteran's Highway, built on and off ramps to Interstate 90 and oversaw the construction of five bridges. But while Riley Bros. is well equipped and well managed to take on large projects, the company still does a lot of private work for area farmers, including farm drainage and land clearing.
And the Riley Bros. reach doesn't end there. Since 1979, when Joe and John bought into an apartment building in Cyrus, they have operated what is now known as Riley Bros. Properties, LLC. The brothers cite a strong interest in helping develop the communities in which they live.
Which all leads one to think back about how the Riley's got involved in the construction business in the first place. Their mother and father, Elizabeth and Thomas, farmed about five miles outside Morris. One day, a construction crew was working on the road near the farm and Joe went out and asked if they had a job for him. He got the job and the rest is history; a rich and productive history. Joe Riley said, 'we like what we do and we've been fairly successful at it'