Midway Development Co., Inc. – Columbia
Midway Development Co. might be located in the middle of the country and middle of the state but there’s nothing middling about its work.
The veteran owned general contracting firm, which works on sports field and synthetic turf projects, grounds maintenance and landscaping, cemetery construction and renovation, among other jobs, recently completed one of the largest national cemetery synthetic turf installation in the U.S., on the elegant Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.
Keith Ragsdell, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Marne Corps, retired, principal owner of Midway Development, considers it an honor to landscape the graves of these brave men and women.
“The Marine Corps is all about mission accomplishment, no matter how difficult or complicated that mission might be,” he says. “I was surrounded by heroes, patriots and dedicated men and women who made great sacrifices to ensure the freedom we all enjoy in the United States of America. We are honored to be a preferred prime contractor with the Veterans Administration and National Cemetery Administration.”
He and co-owner Joe Bechtold of the Midway Travel Plaza complex (as seen on “Truck Stop Missouri”) have also secured good contracts with the U.S. Forest Service, Air Force, FBI, Navy and Marine Corps for products as diverse as lumber and breathing apparatuses.
Ragsdell retired from the Marines in 2010. He and Bechtold, Hickman High School swimming teammates, began to pursue government contracts in earnest in 2012, boosted by Ragsdell’s veteran status, entrepreneurial drive and timely advice from the Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (MO PTAC). This is a BDP program that assists businesses, including veteran-owned firms, obtain federal, state and local government contracts.
As a result, Midway Development has grown to about $1 million in revenue. The firm also continues to bid on and win good contracts, and is expanding.
“We started with no employees and currently have 25 full and part-time employees,” says Ragsdell. “Yes, we are still a regional contractor, but see ourselves expanding nationwide over the next five years.”
He, Bechtold and Ragsdell’s brother Tom were all on the Hickman High swim team. In Ragsdell’s senior year, the team placed second in the state finals, but was first in the 400-meter free relay, the last event of the meet. During their time at Hickman, the brothers won state championships, Keith in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and Tom in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle. Ragsdell still holds the Hickman school records in the 50 freestyle. Their kids swam for Hickman, too.
After studying parks, recreation and tourism at MU, Ragsdell joined the Marines. He was deployed around the world, including in swimmers’ paradise Hawaii. The last 10 years of his career were spent mainly in special operations, including a stint at the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command and a tour of duty at the Pentagon.
But entrepreneurship was in his blood. He and brother Tom had operated a small car detailing business called Car Clean in Columbia. The entrepreneurial itch had to be put on hold for 20 years while in the Marine Corps, but quickly came back after retirement, says Ragsdell.
“I always had a great deal of respect for Joe’s (Bechtold) ability to create business ideas, sell them and make them function for the long term,” he says. He and Bechtold started Midway Development after Ragsdell and his family left the Washington, D.C. area to return to Columbia. Their first award was with the Air Force for a variety of lumber products, worth barely $17,000. But the partners kept plugging away, kept learning and kept asking PTAC staff the right questions.
“PTAC was a great support mechanism when we first started our company,” he says. “Bill Stuby (PTAC procurement specialist, retired) was always available to answer questions as we moved forward. And both Jana (Weitkemper, current PTAC procurement specialist) and Bill are still on the ready to answer questions and support our efforts to bid on federal contracts. Bill had a great deal of experience with the federal government and was willing to share and help us along the way. Jana took over for Bill and has been a great supporter.
“PTAC is a great resource for business startups and other business looking for support and information on dealing with the federal government. I would give them the highest grade as a support organization for small business.”
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