Digging Through the Archive: Joe Guinn
You know that someone was born into a profession when you see baby pictures of them on the job with their father. Joe Guinn, like many others from his generation, fits this description. As a kid, Guinn longed to join the adults working on construction projects, and eventually, he carved out a career in the field.
Arizona Contractor & Community magazine covered Guinn in our Spring 2014 issue. We'll revisit his career since he recently retired from S & S Paving & Construction after 24 years of service on August 18, 2021. Guinn's father, Bert, also played a significant role in Krumtum Contracting, which is also covered in this issue (see page 62).
I first became aware of Ajax Contracting, where Guinn started his career after seeing its concrete sidewalk stamps around Phoenix in 2014. Arizona concrete expert Lonnie Lattimore referred me to Guinn. “His family was Ajax, and they have been working here for decades,” he said.
Joe Guinn and I met at S & S Paving, and he brought along old photos that included some of Krumtum Contracting. “Jim Krumtum was my uncle, and before Ajax, my dad [Bert] and Jim worked together,” Guinn says.
Guinn’s a low-key guy with an extensive background in contracting and estimating. “In 1959, there was an operator’s strike that lasted three months, resulting in several jobs being shut down,” he says. That’s when this 8-year-old earned his first paycheck of $6.50 for two weeks of work keeping things moving during the strike.
“In 1975, Ajax Contracting decided to cut ties with the operator’s union and continued working out of town in Wickenburg, Tucson, Lukeville, and Kayenta,” Guinn says. After his father retired in 1979, Guinn took command of Ajax.
During the 1970s, Ajax Contracting had contracts with the City of Phoenix. “My dad, Bert, told Johnny Newell, GM at Union Rock & Materials, of a big project coming up,” Guinn says. “He asked if they would use their ready-mix trucks to pull a sled they developed, which formed the sidewalks using no forms.”
With a donated load of concrete furnished by Union Rock, Ajax Contracting sold the idea to city officials during a trial run. During the demonstration, Ajax would stop operations by changing the chains holding the sled to meander the sidewalk when needed. “We did five-to-six projects for the city’s big push on bike paths. We were pouring 350 yards on an 8-inch sidewalk a day,” he says.
To read the rest of this article, you are invited to purchase the digital issue here.
This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2023 issue, Vol. 12, No. 1.