Puetz Corp. founder diesMitchell businessman, 89, started firm in 1950s.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
Clarence Puetz started Puetz Construction with a few employees, toiling in South Dakota’s unpredictable weather to form the foundation of the large, family-owned business Puetz Corp. has since become.
He died Saturday at the age of 89 at Avera Brady Health and Rehab, which he literally had a hand in constructing in 1960. He founded Puetz Construction in 1952.
Puetz somewhat stumbled into a life of running a construction company, said Wayne Puetz, Clarence’s son, who is the second generation to be involved in the business. After his time in the Marines during World War II, Clarence and his wife, Josephine, lived in California. At one side job, Puetz worked as a carpenter replacing screen doors for $1 a door. He also worked for a small construction company renovating and remodeling houses for about two years.
“When we moved back from California, we had everything we owned in a pickup truck,” Wayne said. “My dad didn’t really know what to do. He said to mom, ‘What do you think we should do with the tools?’ Mom said, ‘Let’s put ’em to work,’ and that was the beginning of Puetz Corporation.”
Josephine Puetz, who preceded Clarence in death, was “integral to the company,” Wayne said. She did payroll and bookkeeping. Clarence Puetz was the one in the field working with his employees on every project, both directing and constructing.
Some of the company’s early projects in Mitchell and the area were residential remodels and grain bins. The first commercial project was the Gann Valley School. Clarence also built a school building in Emery.
Puetz Corp. now employs 65 people, all based in Mitchell. The company is involved in project development, architecture, construction, and construction management and has had a hand in many significant Mitchell structures, recently including the McGovern Library, Longfellow Elementary School, Joe Quintal Stadium and the health sciences center under construction at Dakota Wesleyan University, among numerous others.
Clarence Puetz’s grandson, Mark Puetz, also is involved in the family business. Mark did construction work for the company during high school and had a chance to work with his grandfather, who Mark described as “very passionate” and someone who “did everything with a big energy.”