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  • Arizona Contractor & Community

Paul Brock: Digging Deep Into Gunnison Contractors and the Man Who Built It

Jeff Kronenfeld

Paul Brock was one of the biggest names in underground contracting in the Valley during the 1960s and 1970s. His company, Gunnison Contractors, specialized in excavation and pipelaying and also handled more significant projects such as constructing a water treatment plant for the City of Phoenix and renovating Mesa’s Main Street. Though Brock died in 2005, his family, co-workers, and friends still remember the curiosity and persistence that made the autodidact such a successful builder, pilot, and farmer.

Brock was born in a small town in Oklahoma in 1918. His daughter, Dianne, described him as a slight farm kid in old photos from his childhood. But, unfortunately, the kid had to grow up fast. The Great Depression started when he was 11 and the Dust Bowl when he was 12. Then, his father — a traveling pastor — died when Brock was 13.

After serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II, Brock moved to Kansas and worked as a salesman at a lumber yard in Junction City. His intelligence and hard work didn’t go unnoticed by his new employer.

“The owner of that company was the person who recognized just the pure raw talent that my dad had,” Dianne recalled. “A job developed around his skills and abilities. It really was a major stepping stone.”

Brock’s current employer wasn’t the only one to spot the young man’s mathematical ability and personable manner. Martin K. Eby Sr. was the president of Eby Construction, a Wichita company that he founded in 1937. A graduate of Kansas State University’s civil engineering program, Eby Sr. was part of the movement to integrate modern engineering methods into the construction industry.

Brock attended Central State College in Edmund, Oklahoma, but had to enter the workforce shortly before completing his degree. However, he was an eager and lifelong learner with a high natural aptitude for numbers. So Eby Sr. hired Brock as an estimator in the late 1940s. The young man did well, eventually becoming Eby Construction’s pipelaying operations manager, where his entertaining personality helped make even the most demanding jobs seem a little easier.

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, Sep/Oct 2021 issue, Vol. 10, No. 5.


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