In the late 1890s, when Americans relied heavily on trains and waterways to travel the country, and giant corporations like General Electric were just getting started, forward-thinking Charles Alfred (C.A.) Sheppard embarked on a path as an entrepreneur.
He could not have known that leaving his post as a professional engineer for Louisville and Nashville Railroad to offer land surveying and engineering services was the start of a legacy, a legacy still going strong after more than 120 years.
At the turn of the 20th century, C.A. partnered with his brother-in-law, W.H. Morgan. Together, the men solidified their business in Edwardsville, IL, and continued to offer land surveying and engineering services to a variety of clients.
While Sheppard and Morgan were cultivating their business, C.A.’s son, C.H. Sheppard, attended engineering school and obtained his degree at U of I in 1917. Rather than immediately joining his father’s firm, C.H. chose first to serve his country in World War I. After completing his military service, he gained experience in both the public and private sectors until he formed his own partnership with John Schwaab in 1921. The pair operated in Alton, IL.
Although working in two separate partnerships, the four men helped each other build strong businesses and reputations. But in 1928, an automobile accident took the life of C. A. Sheppard and led to merging of the two firms. That year, the company formally became Sheppard, Morgan & Schwaab Engineers, with offices in Alton and Edwardsville.
By 1945, both Schwaab and Morgan had passed away, leaving no heirs and C.H. Sheppard with the company. Ten years later, C.H.’s son, C.L. Sheppard, joined his father in the business and remains today as the Chairman of the Board. His son, C.A., who goes by Cas, joined the firm in 1981. Cas assumed the role as President in 2001 and continues to manage the day-to-day operations of the company.
Today we live in a world wherein just a few hours, one can travel to the other side of the country by plane and small business is the backbone of our economy. At SMS, our tools of the trade may be different, but the traditional values on which the company was founded still guide us: hard work, dedication to clients and attention to detail.