Jeff Davidsmeyer '85
President of IRC
After 26 years in the company, Jeff Davidsmeyer ’85 is well aware of the ups and downs of a family business. In fact, he’s become an international expert on the topic, addressing the International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA) in Lappeenranta, Finland, at its annual conference on the “Dynamics of a Family Business.”
During his time at MacMurray, Davidsmeyer developed a passion for learning. He majored in music and recalled teachers like Richard Hanson, a music professor, who instilled that passion with his unique and interesting style of teaching. At MacMurray, Davidsmeyer had the opportunity to give elementary students piano lessons, his first experience teaching. “I think MacMurray made me a well-rounded individual and helped me to continue to improve myself,” Davidsmeyer stated.
He went on to say that, because of MacMurray, “I became a lifelong learner.” That drive to learn continues today, as Davidsmeyer recently completed his MBA in spring 2014 at the University of Illinois at Springfield.
After a few years teaching music in the nearby Meredosia School District, Davidsmeyer entered his family’s business, Illinois Road Contractors (IRC) in 1988. “The time was right,” he said, and, in 2007, he took over as president of IRC. IRC’s main work is road construction and related businesses, but his family’s business has always looked for other opportunities, due to the ups and downs associated with road work. In 2004, the company started Tarps Manufacturing Inc., which makes heavy-duty construction tarps. Their tarps have been used for work on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Freedom Tower, both in New York City, as well as other locations across the country.
Davidsmeyer spoke about the challenges of transferring management from generation to generation in his speech at the IFERA conference last summer in Finland, a thorny problem for family businesses. He, along with several cousins, is the third generation running IRC, and “A family business lasting from the third generation to the fourth generation drops to about 3 percent,” he said. The transition is one of the many pitfalls for family businesses, but one the family is determined to overcome.
Since his trip to Finland, Davidsmeyer has enjoyed several other speaking engagements, including guest lectures at both Bradley University and the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Davidsmeyer has been able to give back to MacMurray in many ways. His musical ability was recently on display as he and other MacMurray friends played for this year’s Alumni Reception during Homecoming Weekend. He is also a founding member of the New Goat Ensemble, and plays keyboards in other local bands. Davidsmeyer and his wife, Teresa, played in the Bennington Lobby in the Putnam-Springer Center in 2012 when they released their latest album, Takin’ Our Time. Some of the proceeds from the event went to the Highlander Points of Excellence Campaign, which recently helped to complete the renovation of MacMurray Hall.
His continued commitment to MacMurray has always been evident, and he continues today, serving on the Board of Trustees for the College.