Jim Kissick grew up helping out with his family’s construction business.
It was a company started by his great-grandfather in the late 1800s, and each generation of his family continued the business until it went defunct in 1971.
“As a young guy growing up, I was doing this kind of work all the time,” Kissick said.
After a 23-year hiatus, Kissick brought back the family business named Kissick Construction. Before he got it started again, he worked for different contractors after college and was the public works director for Jackson County for six years. In 1993, he started investigating how he could start his own business.
“I just took a leap of faith, and I figured if I worked hard, maybe good things will happen,” he said.
The business has grown to manage $100 million single projects during the past 24 years. His company has helped construct sports stadiums for Rockhurst High School, Notre Dame de Sion High School and St. Teresa’s Academy. His company has also done underground pipe work and has built bridges for the state of Missouri.
While Kissick has run a successful business, he’s also been heavily involved with community service work in the metro area, including Grain Valley. That’s why Mayor Mike Todd named Kissick as the city’s Truman Heartland Community Foundation Citizen of the Year.
“The impact that Jim and his company have had on the economic development in Grain Valley is beyond measure,” Todd said in his nomination letter.
Some of the things Kissick has contributed to Grain Valley have included donating office space to the Grain Valley Partnership, sponsoring the Grain Valley Fair Daze and supporting the Grain Valley School District Foundation Scholarship fund.
“He also owns large portions of downtown (Grain Valley),” Todd said. “He’s refurbishing that and bringing new businesses in.”
“We had several candidates for (the Citizen of the Year) nomination, but (Kissick) found his way toward the top.”
So how did Kissick get involved in Grain Valley?
“Back in late 90s, early 2000s, I had a friend who was involved in a lot of land development in Grain Valley, and he asked me to get involved,” Kissick said. “My goal is to stay in tune (with the city) and help them with my contributions in terms of education. And I want to help where I can with in terms of what the city is doing.”
Kissick also led the movement to have 75 dilapidated homes in Kansas City demolished as his company partnered with competitors.
“We offered to tear 10 of those down at no cost to the city,” he said. “We took down 10 homes, and a year later, the police chief of Kansas City was talking about, he thinks crime, drug operations and prostitution revolved around these small, abandoned homes.”
“We then took it upon ourselves to engage other contractors in town to help tear down 75 other houses.”
And Kissick plans to do much more whenever he is needed.
“I want to be active,” Kissick said. “I want to be a good citizen. I want to be a guy that if they need someone to do something, they are more than excited to call me about it.”
Kissick and other citizen of the year honorees will be recognized at the Truman Heartland Community Foundation’s 23rd annual Toast to our Towns Gala this Saturday at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.