BSI Constructors: Building St. Louis Landmarks for More Than 50 Years

May 7, 2024|

Images of (left) Lorry Bannes and Joe Shaughnessy (right) courtesy of BSI Constructors


Just two weeks before Christmas in 1972, Lorenz (Lorry) Bannes and Joseph (Joe) Shaughnessy found themselves suddenly, although voluntarily, unemployed. They had served as president and vice president, respectively, for the 55-year-old, St. Louis-based Gamble Construction Company. Lorry and Joe had become uncomfortable with the direction of the firm after it had been sold to outside investors a few years earlier. If they were going to do things “their way,” it would have to be at a new company.  They incorporated as Bannes-Shaughnessy, Inc. on December 18, 1972.  Unlike many startups, they established a policy that they would not grow at the expense of their former employer and co-workers. Although not subject to a non-compete agreement, and even at the expense of their new venture’s growth in the early years, they vowed to build their company without soliciting past clients nor pursuing personnel from their prior employer.

The first ownership transition at Bannes-Shaughnessy, Inc. occurred in early 1989.  After 16 years of steady but controlled growth, Lorry Bannes had decided to leave the company and pursue other interests.* Through execution of a previously established buy-sell agreement, Joe Shaughnessy became the sole owner and renamed the company BSI Constructors. Also in 1989, two of Joe Shaughnessy’s sons joined BSI – Paul in March and Jim in May.  Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s they continued to build a reputation for tackling some of the most unique and complex projects in the region.

The year 2000 saw the beginning of a management transition when Joe Shaughnessy handed over the CEO role to Paul Shaughnessy.  Not long after, Jim Shaughnessy became EVP.  In 2005, the company’s second ownership transition began with Paul and Jim taking the first steps to buy out Joe as well as other family members, with the final purchase of remaining shares occurring in 2020.  This set the stage for BSI’s third ownership transition which began in 2021 when, for the first time in company history, non-family members were offered the opportunity to buy stock. This first group of new shareholders consisted of executive committee members Tim Hudwalker, Steve Schrage, Paul Sharamitaro and Brian Bell. Since then, BSI has added nine more shareholders including third-generation family members who work at the company.

While BSI manages a very diverse mix of institutional and commercial projects throughout the St. Louis area, it is often most recognized for its many area landmark cultural projects and clients such as the Pulitzer Building, Central Library, Soldiers Memorial, Citygarden, Forest Park Forever, the Missouri History Museum and Powell Hall (underway).

Achieving excellence on this type of work demands an ingrained culture of quality and a laser-like focus on what’s important, while minimizing the distractions of what’s not.  BSI has never had any revenue goals or five-year plans. It has always just been about building great projects for great clients.

*Note:  After an impressive “Post-BSI” career of consulting, teaching, mentoring and volunteering (and touching many lives along the way), BSI co-founder Lorry Bannes passed away earlier this year.

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