"A.M. Cohron & Son is an experienced and progressive heavy highway contractor
committed to building quality projects in the Midwest while being dedicated to safety,
productivity, and integrity. A.M. Cohron is devoted to providing a profitable working
environment with opportunity for personal growth for all employees."
The company was started by A.M. (Arch) Cohron. He came to Des Moines, Iowa in 1914 from Bowling Green, Kentucky to work his trade as a carpenter. Arch was involved in helping to build facilities at Fort Des Moines Army Post and many homes and other commercial buildings on the south side of Des Moines. He began his career in contracting in 1928 when he built maintenance garages for the Iowa Highway Commission. His first bridge project was completed in 1930.
Arch was part of a joint venture in Washington D.C. on a bridge and seawall project across the Tidal Basin. The project was started in 1939 and the bridge is still in use today. The bridge can be seen across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Monument.
Arch was joined by his son, Donald P. Cohron, in the 1930’s who first began working for the company as youngster carrying water. After Don’s military service during World War II, the company worked on a variety of construction projects including pumping stations near the Mississippi River, a municipal swimming pool, and commercial buildings as well as bridges.
Upon his father’s death in 1951, Don took over the company and obtained his first bridge contract from the Iowa Department of Transportation in 1954.
Keith Harlan, the current chairman of the company, began his employment in 1957 as a 19 year old laborer. The company was incorporated in 1958 as A.M. Cohron & Son, Inc.
The company saw much growth through the 1960’s and 70’s while the interstate program was going strong in Iowa.
Seeking diversification, the company entered the concrete ready mix business in 1975 which grew to include seven rural plants in southwest Iowa. The ready mix division was later sold in 2002.
As Iowa construction work slowed down in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the firm started looking out of state for additional work. The first bridge contract was awarded from the Nebraska Department of Roads for a 923’ x 30’ welded plate girder across the Loup River near Monroe, Nebraska in December, 1980. In 1981, the company purchased 10 acres of land in an Industrial Park east of Columbus, Nebraska for use as a storage yard and office. Several crews operate on Nebraska projects under the leadership of Doug Williams, Vice-President.
The company also was low bidder for a 1056’ x 40’ welded girder bridge across the Republican River north of Concordia, Kansas in 1981. This bridge and subsequent other KDOT projects where managed from the Atlantic, Iowa headquarters until 1987 when Rick Harlan was appointed Area Manager and moved to Emporia, Kansas to direct operations there. Property for a storage yard in Emporia, Kansas was purchased in 1988 and later a maintenance building and office were erected on that property.
Under Rick’s leadership, several crews were established in Kansas and continue today under Chris Rech’s guidance as Area Manager.
The company officials today include as follows:
• Keith Harlan, Chairman
• Rick Harlan, President
• Doug Williams, Vice-President and Nebraska Area Manager
• Jesse Harlan, Vice-President & Iowa, Arkansas and Railroad Project manager
• Pam Wagner, Controller and Secretary/Treasurer
• Chris Rech, Kansas and Oklahoma Area Manager
• Doug Goecke, Safety Officer
• Kathy Somers, HR & EEO Officer/Safety Coordinator
The company continues today as a major bridge builder working in the states of Iowa, Nebraska,
Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri.