Five Generations of Success and Counting: R.F. Meeh Company

April 29, 2024|

In 1910, long before air conditioning and central heating systems were prevalent, Robert Fredrick Meeh opened his St. Louis shop, specializing in architectural sheet metal and gutters. R.F.’s son – and his son – at one time worked together, representing the first three generations of a company known for putting its people and its customers first.

Early photos of the R.F. Meeh Company founder show its founder with his mule and buggy. The company survived the Great Depression.

As the industry evolved, so did R.F. Meeh. In the 1950s, as heating and cooling systems became popular, Robert Fredrick II was joined by Robert Joseph, his son, who was returning from serving in the Korean War (second and third generations). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Robert Joseph was joined by his sons, Bob and Bill Meeh. Their vivid memories as young workers include the memory of their overalls covered in black soot from tearing out coal furnaces and converting them to gas furnaces. The two would briefly leave to pursue their goals – Bill at engineering school, Bob in baseball – before they returned to the family business.

The founder’s son retired in the late 1970s and Bob Meeh, Sr. in 1992.

In 2019, Robert Fredrick’s great-great grandson, Rob, assumed the role of company president. Rob and Bill (the latter of whom serves as VP) lead the firm whose early roots are still visible on the walls of the Sheet Metal Workers Local Union No. 36 on Chouteau Avenue. These walls are covered with wallpaper that replicates an original hand ledger scrawled by Rob’s great-grandmother, Mary.

Bill Meeh says it’s no surprise that R.F. Meeh and its third-generation sister firm, MJ Products, have remained successful. The biggest reason for their success? The longevity of their people. Bill says whereas larger companies may hire seasonally in excess and then lay off those they no longer need, R.F. Meeh’s longstanding philosophy has been to “always maintain two guys short” to keep everyone employed. Proof in point, the company’s current shop foreman, Matt Williams, has worked for three generations of Meehs. Rob Meeh adds, “Without the great commitment of our current and former staff, R.F. Meeh wouldn’t be as successful as we are today.”

Instilling a genuine work ethic in their kids and staff is a thread that has also woven the company culture into what it is today. Bill’s grandfather – the company’s second-generation owner – told him that if he showed up 15 minutes early to a job, he was really 15 minutes late.

This hard work ethic that has shown itself in every generation of leadership over the past 114 years.

Today, R.F. Meeh Company’s work is seen on many project sites around St. Louis, including at Washington University School of Medicine and at the just-completed Chicken N Pickle restaurant in St. Charles, Mo. and various retail and educational facilities.

R.F. Meeh is the ASA-Midwest Council’s 2022 MEP Contractor of the Year and the AGCMO’s 2023 HVAC Specialty Contractor of the Year.



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