The Family Thread
It seems to be a rarity these days with corporate takeovers, growth through acquisition and fledgling internet startup companies that a family owned business of three generations exists. But, that is the case with R.C. Worst & Company of Coeur d’Alene Idaho. Ken and Allen Worst are the third generation owners and operators of this water and wastewater pumping operation that began nearly 60 years ago with their grandfather, Robert Worst. And there is plenty of business history sandwiched between the startup year of 1953 and today.
In 1950 Robert, or “RC” as he was well known as, purchased a portion of Brown Construction Company, which was owned and operated by RC’s father-in-law, Fred Brown. In 1953, Bob bought out the remaining portion of Fred’s interest in the company and changed the name to R.C. Worst & Company. In the early 50’s and continuing through the 60’s, hundreds of homes were built in the greater Coeur d’Alene area including the “Worst Addition” and “Brown Addition” developments. Many of these new homes on Hayden and Coeur d’Alene Lake were either built or remodeled by R.C. Worst & Co.
In 1955, the company purchased eleven acres on Best Avenue and relocated there in an old Farragut naval Base building (the current office location) fronted by an old Texaco service station. A portion of the old Texaco building served as an office until the building on the Southeast corner of the present Best property was built in 1971. But, it was the decade of the 60’s that saw a transformation occur for R.C. Worst & Co. moving from general contracting to the water and wastewater pumping equipment company it is today. During that time, the company was called upon to supply a boom truck and operator to help pull and set pumps for local plumbing and motor repair shops. This work continued until the late 60’s when an increasing number of customers called R.C. Worst & Co. directly to perform this type of pump work. R.C. Worst & Co. had found its niche in an ever expanding market in North Idaho and Eastern Washington.
In the latter part of the 60’s Robert’s son Jim Worst began assuming many of the managerial roles previously held by his father. It was not long before Jim was influencing major business decisions forever leaving his mark on this family owned enterprise. Along with his wife Lois, Jim continued to grow and expand the reach of service being provided to the families and businesses of North Idaho. And as Robert had done with him, Jim made sure to introduce to his sons Ken and Allen some of the business practices and principles that had created success based on customer satisfaction and contractor loyalty. Today, Jim and Lois have retired and have taken on more relaxing endeavors leaving the operations of the company in the capable hands of Ken and Allen.
Like most successful, long term businesses, industry demands change over time and the Worst brothers’ desire to meet new expectations has been key in vaulting R.C. Worst & Co. into their sixth decade of business. It is all but a certainty that during RC’s reign, the environmental concerns related to wastewater treatment and disposal did not come into play. We simply did not have the knowledge related to the potentially harmful effects of wastewater on our surface and groundwater that we do today. And of course, we did not have the demand for buildable home sites that are currently being sought by an ever expanding home building industry. Meeting wastewater regulations in today’s world requires innovation in design and participation in the development of the regulations that provide guidance. Today’s R.C. Worst & Co. is a champion in both categories.
The success story of R.C. Worst & Co. is an ongoing and ever developing one. As the company continues to subtly morph to meet the pumping needs of Idaho and Eastern Washington, Ken and Allen Worst have not forgotten the valuable business lessons handed down from RC as well as their parents, Jim and Lois. Selling cutting edge water and wastewater pumping equipment and applications gets them into the door of many homeowners and contractors. Providing excellent customer service that includes reliability and fairness keeps them coming back. That is a business model that worked in 1953 and even though a rarity in today’s market, it still works today.
And who knows, someday we could see a fourth generation of the Worst family in an ownership or management role. Recently hired in a sales position is Ken’s son, Chris Worst. As Chris learns the ropes from his father and uncle and brings to the business his own areas of expertise and guidance, there could well be another chapter to write in the story of R.C. Worst & Co.