Krumtum Contracting: Paving Post-War Arizona
Contractors have a knack for understanding and operating all sorts of equipment, whether it’s a vintage cable-operated blade or a ‘60s muscle car that inspires “thumbs up” from fellow motorists. Another machine contractors gravitate to is airplanes, including James Krumtum, who was part of the “Flying Contractors.” This group of business owners piloted their planes across the Southwest to supervise construction projects.
Krumtum was a high-flying contractor in more ways than one. His decision to expand into paving and concrete curb and gutter work made him a big-time player in the construction industry, aided by his friendship with some of Arizona’s biggest home builders, including John F. Long, Hallcraft Homes, and Flagstaff developer Tom Pollock. Let’s trace Krumtum’s contribution to Arizona’s post-World War II boom.
Born in Oklahoma in 1916, James M. Krumtum met Floy Belle Guinn in Texas. The two married in 1934, and would remain so until Krumtum’s death in 1991. Krumtum enlisted in World War II, where he became a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After his discharge in 1944, Krumtum moved to Phoenix with his wife and two young children, Virginia and Kenneth.
In Phoenix, Krumtum offered services for yard leveling, and moving granite, dirt, and fertilizer. He advertised his services in The Arizona Republic with the heading, “Yes, I am A Veteran.”
Krumtum’s wife’s, Floy Belle, asked her brother, Bert Guinn, to move from Edinberg, Texas, to Phoenix to help with Krumtum Contracting. By 1948, the two, along with mechanic John “Wesley” Pesterfield, led a crew who offered excavation, driveway paving, and blacktop services. One of their first jobs was paving a parking lot at Downing Drug Co. at 1801 East Indian School Road.
The company expanded, offering curbs, gutters and sidewalks to its list of services for residential subdivisions. In 1949, Krumtum hired John W. Lattimore and his younger brother, Harry, to join the new concrete division. John was the oldest of nine brothers and two sisters, with most of his brothers working in construction.
Krumtum and the Lattimores had more in common than work, as John’s younger brother, Bob, would later marry Krumtum’s daughter, Virginia. John Lattimore worked several curb and gutter projects for Krumtum, and with his blessing, left to launch John W. Lattimore Contractor, in 1951.
Keeping up with the post-World War II housing boom, Krumtum kept busy after befriending home builder, John F. Long. The company laid curb and gutter for Long’s first tracts: Glenwood Terrace at 26th and Glendale avenues (1949), and Palm Terrace at 10th Place and Glendale in 1950.
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2023 issue, Vol. 12, No. 1.