It is with a heavy heart that Western Specialty Contractors announces the passing of former COO Jim Rechtin Sr. on Sept. 17 following a battle with cancer.
Rechtin officially retired from Western on Jan. 1 after 46 years of dedicated service to the company. He started working for Western in 1971 as a laborer, then was promoted to foreman two years later, then to Superintendent in 1975.
Rechtin was promoted to sales/project manager in 1977, then department branch manager two years after that, and then branch manager in 1982. In 1992, he was promoted to region manager, where he served for 14 years before being promoted to eastern division manager, where he oversaw 18 branch offices.
In 2009, he was promoted to vice president of operations, then to COO in 2014.
All who knew and worked with Rechtin described him as a dedicated business partner, family man and friend whose leadership qualities and expertise helped to grow Western.
“I will always think of Jim for his instinctive way of communicating with people, no matter who they might be,” Western CEO Ben “Butch” Bishop Jr. said. “He truly was a person who led by example, never asking anyone to do something more than he would do himself. The loss of Jim will be felt by all, but his spirit and reputation will be with us forever.
"Jim had a famous line at work he used for decades — 'Who loves you?'" Bishop continued. "Well, Jimmy, the simple answer is we all do.”
Prior to his retirement, Rechtin worked to prepare his successor, Tom Brooks, for the COO position and had plans to continue working with Western's senior management team on a consulting basis during his retirement.
Brooks fondly remembers the time he spent learning from and working with Rechtin.
“Jim was a boss, mentor, friend and father-figure. He was able to draw the best out of people through firm authority, company dedication and a larger-than-life love of people," Brooks said. "Jim was the leader you never wanted to let down. The operations department will miss him dearly."
A mass celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, 9:30 a.m. at Queen of All Saints Catholic Church in St. Louis County, Missouri. Contributions in Rechtin’s name can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.