A Continued Legacy
Story by Lauren Sable Freiman | Feb 27, 2018
Photography by Anthony Jinson
Construction is in the blood of the Markway family.
At 6:30 a.m., Jude Markway arrives at Markway Construction Company to prepare for the daily 7 a.m. construction meeting. During that meeting, Markway and his team of four full-time employees review the work of the day: who will work on which jobs, what work will be completed, and which subcontractors will be on site to assist. As the sun rises, his team dispatches to their various work sites, and Markway climbs into his white Chevy pickup to begin his day’s work, traveling from job site to job site, where he oversees kitchen and bathroom renovations, full house renovations, the addition of outdoor kitchens, all-season rooms, sunrooms, decks, and, on occasion, new home construction.
While on site, he answers questions from excited and anxious clients and meets with subcontractors. At 3:30 p.m., when the hammers and nail guns are tucked back into toolboxes and the job sites are quiet until the next day, Markway’s work continues. He records the progress of the day while making to-do lists and scheduling subcontractors for the following day. He fields questions from current clients and puts together estimates for potential clients. Markway’s day comes to a close at 10 p.m., when he thanks God for the blessings of the day, including the work he has been doing for more than 40 years.
“My favorite projects are the ones we’re working on every day of the year,” Markway says. “We work for some amazing people. They trust us to come into their homes and disrupt their lives, and they’re all very understanding and appreciative of what we do to transform their homes.”
Behind the scenes, Markway’s wife, Mary, manages the books for the business, but she also showers the business and its clients with love.
“This business would not even exist without Mary Markway,” Jude says. “We had a customer in St. Louis whose sister passed away, and while she was out of town, Mary and her friend went over and cleaned her house. Customers sometimes become very close friends to us. Mary isn’t just a bookkeeper; she is compassionate enough to help customers out when needed.”
Jude Markway, a Wardsville native, began working for his dad in construction while he attended Blair Oaks High School and continued while he attended Lincoln University. After spending hours and hours working with his dad and learning the ins and outs of the construction business, Markway decided to take on a side job in 1976 — building a spec house.
“After the house was completed, a friend asked me to build him a house,” Markway says. “My Dad gave me his blessing to start my own business and said he would help me if needed.”
Over the years, as the economy ebbed and flowed, Markway’s business changed. When interest rates were between 13 and 16 percent for home mortgages in 1976, Markway was lucky when he had work, he says. Along the way, he discovered that his niche (and his true passion) was remodeling.
“I liked the challenge of restoration or, if it was an addition, making it look like it was part of the original structure,” Markway says. “As we all know, in 2008, the economy went from good to bad. People decided if they liked their neighborhoods they would stay and update their homes. I was busy during that time.”
This year alone, Markway Construction has completed work on more than 50 job sites. While some projects may only take one week to complete, others can take four to six months. Over the years, the internet, particularly sites like Houzz and Pinterest, have impacted the industry and the way Markway works with clients.
“The options used to be just A, B, and C, but with the internet, people have all the choices that they see on Pinterest and Houzz,” Markway says. “Tina Davis [from Designs by Tina] helps us sort through all of that and helps us get the products that people see online.”
Markway also works overtime to stay current on industry trends and new building solutions that benefit his clients. He stresses the importance of customer service to his employees and his subcontractors.
“I do a lot of reading to keep up on new and innovative ideas and products to improve construction or remodeling projects, and my expectations of my employees are that they pay attention to details, be professional, and be respectful of the job site, which includes any kind of floor protection, dust barriers to other rooms, daily clean-up, and proper lock-up,” Markway says. “If pets are involved, we make sure there has been communication about their well-being, and we maintain constant communication with our client about the project.”
One of Markway’s favorite projects came about in 1998. Over the course of 18 months, and with family and friends logging many hours of labor after work and on the weekends, Markway renovated the Bolton Home, which was first built in 1833.
“The home was once owned by my great-grandfather, Herman Winkelmann, so it has more sentimental value to it as well,” Markway says. “Its historical value to the area is a treasure.”
Markway is currently in the process of building a new home close to the Bolton Home, adding special touches from other homes he has remodeled over the years.
Though Markway says his retirement is merely in the early planning stages, the plan is for his oldest son, Gabe, to take over the business. Perhaps prophetically, Gabe was born the day Markway was scheduled to pour the footings on his very first solo project — the spec home he built in 1976 — and Markway says Gabe has become the mainstay of Markway Construction.
“He has worked in the business from junior high school age, when he was just cleaning up, to the present, where he’s lead carpenter and on-site foreman,” Markway says. “I am very proud of him. He’s an extremely talented young man. He has several large projects he has done totally on his own.”
Though he’ll eventually step back from the construction business, Markway won’t go far. He says he’ll still work for Gabe, looking at new jobs and putting together estimates, and he’ll work on reassembling an 1850s log cabin that he disassembled this past summer. His to-do list for the future, much like his daily to-do list, is long. He’ll hunt deer with Gabe and sons Luke and Levi and hunt pheasant and elk with friends and his lab, Sadie. One day, he plans to write a book filled with his hunting stories. He’ll spend time on his farm with his family and grandkids, Bridger, Claire, Henry, Hazel, and Lance, and he’ll travel and continue his volunteer work with the Knights of Columbus Building Finance Committee, St. Stanislaus Church, Historic City of Jefferson, HBA, and City of Jefferson Building Code Change Committee.
As he reflects on Marcellus Markway Construction, the business his dad ran for more than 30 years, and on Markway Construction, the business he has run for more than 40 years, Markway says he knows the family legacy is in good hands with the next generation.
“Each generation builds and improves on the previous one,” Markway says. “When I retire, Gabe will have more than 20 years in construction, and I know he will do just fine and will incorporate some of his own creativity.”