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NABHOLZ.

Robert Daniel Nabholz, Sr. went from building a bungalow he hoped to live in with his bride to a multi-million dollar business.

Not bad for a guy who couldn't afford to complete his formal education.

One thing for sure - he decided early on that he wanted to be a builder. Today he is chairman emeritus of Nabholz Construction Corp., one of the largest Arkansas-based building contractors in the state.

Nabholz started his business in 1949 in Conway, his hometown, which was then considered a sort of sleepy college town with two relatively small schools, Hendrix College and Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) - although even then each had disproportionately large impact on higher education in the state.

After a 37-month tour of duty in World War II, Nabholz went to ASTC for a year, decided that he needed to be an engineer to be a builder and enrolled in the University of Oklahoma. But the job situation was unsatisfactory there, so he dropped out.

He had, however, met Barbara Harpe, a nursing student from Lawton, Okla., and they planned to be married. He was building a home for themselves in 1949 when he had an opportunity to sell it at a profit.

That launched his building career, which reached a milestone in 1993 when his company did more than $1 billion in sales in Arkansas. The company has been listed since 1986 as among the top 400 constructors in the United States.

In the 50 years since he founded the company, Nabholz has added services and divisions such as Nabholz Client Service, Nabholz Cranes and Rigging, Nabholz Industrial Services and Conark Builders. The company has divisions at Conway, Little Rock and Rogers in Arkansas and in Tulsa, Okla., and Springfield, Mo.

In 1955, Nabholz Construction became the only general contractor ever to receive the Arkansas Quality Achievement Award and the company is listed as an "accredited quality contractor" certified by the Associated Builders and Contractors for demonstrating a commitment to excellence in four areas of corporate responsibility: safety, training, employee benefits and community relations.

The company's most noted projects include Arkansas Children's Hospital, St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Hot Springs, Hendrix College and a number of major commercial and industrial plants.

Nabholz started an apprenticeship program in 1972 (certified the next year by the United States Labor Department) consisting of four years of classroom training. It is open to the public and graduates carpentry journeymen.

Nabholz has also been active in government, civic and industry organizations. He has served the Associated General Contractors on the national and state levels, serving as president of the Arkansas Chapter in 1967. On the national level, he has served AGC committees dealing with membership development, public relations, manpower and training, open shops, construction education, construction management, ethics, and project delivery systems.

He also is a member of the American Institute of Constructors, founding the Little Rock chapter. Nabholz was national president of the organization in 1981 and was honored as a Fellow of the Institute in 1979.

In Conway, Nabholz has served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Young Business Men's Association and the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

A member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway, he has served on both parish and diocesan levels in the development of scriptural study program and construction programs.

Nabholz was named to the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission in 1981 and was chosen chairman in 1983. He also served the state Board of Higher Education and is a past member of the Arkansas Waterways Commission and has served as chairman and president of the Arkansas Basin Association, where he strongly supported opening the Arkansas River to navigation.

He has served on the board of the Arkansas Children's Colony and is a former vice chairman of the Institute of Politics.

He helped found the Conway Industrial Development Commission and served as vice president. He has served on the boards of First National Bank of Conway and the First Commercial Bank Holding Co. of Little Rock, both of which have become Regions Bank.

Nabholz was recognized in 1990 by the Arkansas Wildlife Federation for conservation practices on his land and was chosen top coordinator in the Arkansas Acres for Wildlife Program in 1987.

He also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Conway Chamber of Commerce in 1983, the Businessman of the Year Award from the Conway Rotary Club in 1992 and the 1997 Business and Professional Leader Award from the Little Rock Rotary Club.

Nabholz was selected in 1988 as "Construction Entrepreneur of the Year" by Venture magazine and Arkansas Business chose him as "Executive of the Year" in 1989.

Nabholz also was inducted in 1992 into the Arkansas River Historical Society Hall of Fame.
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Title Annotation:Robert Daniel Nabholz, Sr.
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Apr 3, 2000
Words:798
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