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Home | HOUSTON | Spotlight | Spotlight - Wayne Schramme, Schramme Construction

Spotlight - Wayne Schramme, Schramme Construction

image Wayne Schramme, Partner, Schramme Construction, Richmond, TX

HOUSTON - Wayne Schramme took a leap of faith by jumping into the construction industry and, 38 years later, it’s paid off for him and his family.







Tell me about when you were younger.
    I was born and raised in Rosenberg, TX.

What did your parents do?
    My mom worked in the meat department at Kroger almost her whole life. My dad was involved in the construction industry.

What was your introduction to the construction industry?

    In high school, I spent my summers working jobs in the building trades, roofing, remodeling, and working with my dad at his site work business. His small company hauled dirt and gravel, built home sites, and installed driveways. I didn’t really get a chance to work with my dad though, because he had me doing the “runt stuff.” I never learned about the business itself. Basically all I did was help him fix flats and work on equipment. He passed away at an early age of 42, right after my high school graduation.

Did you continue in the construction industry for him?

    When he passed, he had some obligations he needed to fill. He had some contracts that needed to be fulfilled. I just started shredding that summer and finished those projects for him so it wouldn’t leave his clients behind. Here I was, 18 years old, just trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life. A few weeks later, I enrolled at Sam Houston State University, but wasn’t sure at the time what I was going to do – I was lost and didn’t know what to do with what my dad had started; he was just a one man show.
    Trying to figure out who all his clients were and ask if they still wanted their projects completed and deciding if I wanted to go to college was hard. I was torn between the two. I knew I had some blood instilled in me after watching my dad do some dirt work, and I figured I could do that. There was a sand pit beside our house and I decided that I would bid for some overpasses that were supposed to be built along Highway 6 at that time. I was given a chance by the superintendent, even at only 19, to work on the project. That was the deciding factor in me not going back to school.

What was your experience before Schramme Construction?

    I had just graduated from high school and my brother Bobby and I decided to bid on that highway overpass job, furnishing the dirt to build the overpasses. We got lucky and the contractor took a chance on some young guys fresh in the business. Afterwards, we started bidding on site work for other projects. Things were looking good for us, then the ‘80s came around and the economy went down and caused the construction industry to go down, too. After Bobby and I paid our extended debts, we were pretty much broke. We both had to take odd jobs for a year or two to make ends meet.

How is it working with your brother?
    Working with family is not always easy. We both have our own opinions and ways of handling things, but we always come together in the end.

What made you two want to start your own company?
     It was already established through our dad. It was started through him. To keep it going meant us getting these new jobs. In the beginning it was easy. After that overpass project, we continued to get more work, and the company just continued to thrive.

What were the challenges of starting the business?

    After we got the highway job, life was good. We were working every day, we were making money, and things were fine. When the bottom fell out of the construction industry, we ended up having to sell our equipment for 50 cents on the dollar and pay off all of our debts. We didn’t know what was going to happen, so we took odd jobs. We went back to what we were doing before.    After the economy started picking back up, Bobby and I started bidding our site work on the school district projects. This is where we started building the business back up again. We have been very lucky and have done many school projects. We’ve also worked on other projects such as car dealerships, churches, Walmart, Sam’s, Target, hospitals, convenience stores and Academy stores.

What are the challenges and rewards of having your own business?
    As you can see, being in business is not all fun and games. It’s hard work, a lot of responsibilities, and long hours away from your family. If you work hard though, the rewards are great. 

What do you like to do when you are not working?

    I like to hunt, fish, play golf, and visit with family and friends. I’m in the process of building a barndominium in Matagorda with an old high school friend and plan on doing a little fishing, relaxing, and enjoying family and friends.

Do you have any children?

    I have a daughter, Brandi, and her husband’s name is Houston. They have given me two grandsons who I adore and love spending time with. Hopefully, they’ll be my fishing and hunting buddies in the future.

Tell me about your wife.
    She’s wonderful. She takes care of everything when I’m busy working. We met when were young through some mutual friends and just hit it off. When I’m too busy handling things at work, she remembers all the other things that need taking care of – myself included. 

What are you most proud of?

    Keeping the company going, surviving, and having another day to look at things.

Who has been your biggest influence?
    John Campbell. He was the superintendent for the highway project that I bid on for the first time. Back then, there were still party lines on the phones, and he would get to the office at 6am, pick the phone up and call me. After about 10 or 12 rings, he would put the phone down without hanging up, get in his truck and drive around, then come back and check to see if the phone was still ringing. He taught me a lesson with that – construction starts no later than 7am. He also said I was going to do just fine, but I needed to pay my bills on time to my vendors so they would continue to work with me. He was also the one who called me after the downturn in the ‘80s and wanted me to bid on the project for the new Shriner’s hospital in Galveston. After that, the jobs starting coming in. He helped me get started in life and he helped me get started again when construction came back.
Is there anything else you want to share?
    The industry is somewhat like the oilfield. The oilfield can go up and down with the times, and construction can do the same thing. It’s happened before when we almost lost everything in the ‘80s. It’s a tough industry and you don’t want to start anything blind if you don’t have to. You need help along the way. Pick and choose the contractors you want to do work for so you have a good idea of them paying their bills because if they don’t pay you, it’s all on you to pay everyone else. I would advise that to anybody starting out in the business. -te

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Author Info
Tanya Erickson houstoneditor@constructionnews.net