Get To Know Bob

Early Life

It took me approximately nine years of being alive to discover the path I would take in life.  And then, it took me only a few more years to encounter the person who would join me during the many exhilarating ups and downs of youth, building a business, and starting a family.

I was raised in Bridgeton, Missouri, on the outskirts of St. Louis, and had little interest in education in the traditional sense. As a fourth grader, I spent a significant amount of my school day observing the construction of the Ozark Airlines headquarters outside the classroom window. I then supplemented those observation hours by walking on the construction site every day to learn everything I could about building. My dad took notice of my burgeoning passion for building, and nurtured this interest by buying me books on architecture and taking me along on the projects he worked on as a painting contractor. 

When I was fourteen, I met Ellen, the girl who would eventually become my wife and shape many of the things that have become important to me in business and community impact. Shortly after becoming acquainted with Ellen, I suffered a severe injury to my eye during a shooting accident, the result of which was hospitalization and countless surgeries. This experience essentially ushered me into adulthood; it certainly had a lasting effect on my character.

Get To Know Bob

Early Life

It took me approximately nine years of being alive to discover the path I would take in life.  And then, it took me only a few more years to encounter the person who would join me during the many exhilarating ups and downs of youth, building a business, and starting a family.

I was raised in Bridgeton, Missouri, on the outskirts of St. Louis, and had little interest in education in the traditional sense. As a fourth grader, I spent a significant amount of my school day observing the construction of the Ozark Airlines headquarters outside the classroom window. I then supplemented those observation hours by walking on the construction site every day to learn everything I could about building. My dad took notice of my burgeoning passion for building, and nurtured this interest by buying me books on architecture and taking me along on the projects he worked on as a painting contractor. 

When I was fourteen, I met Ellen, the girl who would eventually become my wife and shape many of the things that have become important to me in business and community impact. Shortly after becoming acquainted with Ellen, I suffered a severe injury to my eye during a shooting accident, the result of which was hospitalization and countless surgeries. This experience essentially ushered me into adulthood; it certainly had a lasting effect on my character.

Business Beginnings

Business Beginnings

I lasted about five weeks in a college architecture program before dropping out to continue my work for my painting business. By the age of nineteen I was a partner in an equipment company, but I eventually sold my interest and parted ways with that path too. I felt that I belonged in the building industry and needed to create the right opportunity. One of life’s greatest opportunities came in 1984 when I started Clayco, though I had very little idea of what I was doing at the time. I may not have known how it would turn out, but I had no doubt that this adventure was worth embarking on.

Those first years of Clayco, and truthfully every year since, were full of learning the business and banding together to grow the company from two people to more than 2,000. I surrounded myself with brilliant and compassionate people and together we re-wrote the book on doing business in a transparent and personal way that treats everyone as we would like to be treated. It was then, and still is now, work that I am committed to. Building structures to house the activities that are important for the life and well-being of our communities is part of the legacy that my family has inspired me to leave.

I lasted about five weeks in a college architecture program before dropping out to continue my work for my painting business. By the age of nineteen I was a partner in an equipment company, but I eventually sold my interest and parted ways with that path too. I felt that I belonged in the building industry and needed to create the right opportunity. One of life’s greatest opportunities came in 1984 when I started Clayco, though I had very little idea of what I was doing at the time. I may not have known how it would turn out, but I had no doubt that this adventure was worth embarking on.

Those first years of Clayco, and truthfully every year since, were full of learning the business and banding together to grow the company from two people to more than 2,000. I surrounded myself with brilliant and compassionate people and together we re-wrote the book on doing business in a transparent and personal way that treats everyone as we would like to be treated. It was then, and still is now, work that I am committed to. Building structures to house the activities that are important for the life and well-being of our communities is part of the legacy that my family has inspired me to leave.

Family Life

In the meantime, Ellen and I were learning the ropes and experiencing the rollercoaster of parenthood and family life. We were blessed with five children and currently, seven grandchildren. Raising our children, sustaining our marriage, and building a company came with as many moments of heartache as it did moments of joy. We suffered the gut-wrenching loss of one of our sons, the mysterious death of Ellen’s beloved father, and then Ellen’s own rare disease diagnosis—cerebroretinal vasculopathy (CRV)—in 2005. For the next five years, Ellen lived just as fiercely as ever, and with a smile on her face, before leaving us to be with the angels in 2010.  To contend with her death, I turned to my love for travel and the outdoors by roaming the globe alone before ending up in Kathmandu, Nepal and trekking a few hundred arduous miles with a guide. 

A few years later, I met an amazing woman with whom I share similar passions and who is just as dedicated to community impact as I am. Meeting Jane brought magic back into my life, and my lucky streak in life continued on the day that Jane agreed to marry me. Jane was trained in dental medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and then worked in St. Louis as a partner at Premier Dental Partners for 18 years before deciding in 2016 that she would like to focus on community and non-profit work. Since then we have taken two trips to Nepal for Jane to provide dental treatment in remote areas. Jane also believes in mentoring and helping to develop the next generation of great healthcare providers so she currently supervises dental residents at the Mercy Hospital’s Department of Dental Medicine, where she is also a board member. 

Home is wherever Jane and I are together. Currently, we split our time between our homes in St. Louis and Chicago, as well as our ranch in Colorado—Rosebud Ranch. We have also just begun a new project we are really excited about: the building of Buttercup Ranch down the road from Rosebud in Old Snowmass, Colorado. Together, we are art aficionados and advocates; we love collecting art and have focused our collecting on the work of emerging Black artists from around the world. We are both members of the St. Louis Opera Theatre and I am on the Business Council at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jane and I at our ranch, Thanksgiving 2020

The Whole Family. Summer 2020 in Aspen, Colorado

“The experiences I have been through in life have taught me to always keep my priorities straight, to surround myself with people who are just as giving as they are inspiring, and to invest my time and energy into the community in whatever way I can. I begin each day with a hike and an assessment of my priorities, and make sure that my family always comes first. Besides hiking, I also love to cook, to read, and to be active in politics.”

Family Life

In the meantime, Ellen and I were learning the ropes and experiencing the rollercoaster of parenthood and family life. We were blessed with five children and currently, five grandchildren. Raising our children, sustaining our marriage, and building a company came with as many moments of heartache as it did moments of joy. We suffered the gut-wrenching loss of one of our sons, the mysterious death of Ellen’s beloved father, and then Ellen’s own rare disease diagnosis—cerebroretinal vasculopathy (CRV)—in 2005. For the next five years, Ellen lived just as fiercely as ever, and with a smile on her face, before leaving us to be with the angels in 2010.  To contend with her death,  I turned to my love for travel and the outdoors by roaming the globe alone before ending up in Kathmandu, Nepal and trekking a few hundred arduous miles with a guide. 

A few years later, I met an amazing woman with whom I share similar passions and who is just as dedicated to community impact as I am. Meeting Jane brought magic back into my life, and my lucky streak in life continued on the day that Jane agreed to marry me. Jane was trained in dental medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and then worked in St. Louis as a partner at Premier Dental Partners for 18 years before deciding in 2016 that she would like to focus on community and non-profit work. Since then we have taken two trips to Nepal for Jane to provide dental treatment in remote areas. Jane also believes in mentoring and helping to develop the next generation of great healthcare providers so she currently supervises dental residents at the Mercy Hospital’s Department of Dental Medicine, where she is also a board member. 

Home is wherever Jane and I are together. Currently, we split our time between our homes in St. Louis and Chicago, as well as our ranch in Colorado—Rosebud Ranch. Together, we are art aficionados and advocates; we love collecting art and have focused our collecting on the work of emerging Black artists from around the world. We are both board members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and I am on the Business Council at the Art Institute of Chicago

Jane and I at our ranch, Thanksgiving 2020

The Whole Family. Summer 2020 in Aspen, Colorado

“The experiences I have been through in life have taught me to always keep my priorities straight, to surround myself with people who are just as giving as they are inspiring, and to invest my time and energy into the community in whatever way I can. I begin each day with a hike and an assessment of my priorities, and make sure that my family always comes first. Besides hiking, I also love to cook, to read, and to be active in politics.”

What’s Next

My work with Clayco continues to be of vital importance to me and one of the primary ways I can work on projects that make a difference in the community. I’ve created this website as a way to share my thoughts and some of the things that inspire me, the initiatives that are important to me, and to encourage others that it is easy to do small things that can impact the world for the better.

My work with Clayco continues to be of vital importance to me and one of the primary ways I can work on projects that make a difference in the community. I’ve created this website as a way to share my thoughts and some of the things that inspire me, the initiatives that are important to me, and to encourage others that it is easy to do small things that can impact the world for the better.

My work with Clayco continues to be of vital importance to me and one of the primary ways I can work on projects that make a difference in the community. I’ve created this website as a way to share my thoughts and some of the things that inspire me, the initiatives that are important to me, and to encourage others that it is easy to do small things that can impact the world for the better. 

WHAT’S NEXT

My work with Clayco continues to be of vital importance to me and one of the primary ways I can work on projects that make a difference in the community. I’ve created this website as a way to share my thoughts and some of the things that inspire me, the initiatives that are important to me, and to encourage others that it is easy to do small things that can impact the world for the better.

Get To Know Bob

Early Life

It took me approximately nine years of being alive to discover the path I would take in life.  And then, it took me only a few more years to encounter the person who would join me during the many exhilarating ups and downs of youth, building a business, and starting a family.

I was raised in Bridgeton, Missouri, on the outskirts of St. Louis, and had little interest in education in the traditional sense. As a fourth grader, I spent a significant amount of my school day observing the construction of the Ozark Airlines headquarters outside the classroom window. I then supplemented those observation hours by walking on the construction site every day to learn everything I could about building. My dad took notice of my burgeoning passion for building, and nurtured this interest by buying me books on architecture and taking me along on the projects he worked on as a painting contractor. 

When I was fourteen, I met Ellen, the girl who would eventually become my wife and shape many of the things that have become important to me in business and community impact. Shortly after becoming acquainted with Ellen, I suffered a severe injury to my eye during a shooting accident, the result of which was hospitalization and countless surgeries. This experience essentially ushered me into adulthood; it certainly had a lasting effect on my character.

Business Beginnings

I lasted about five weeks in a college architecture program before dropping out to continue my work for my painting business. By the age of nineteen I was a partner in an equipment company, but I eventually sold my interest and parted ways with that path too. I felt that I belonged in the building industry and needed to create the right opportunity. One of life’s greatest opportunities came in 1984 when I started Clayco, though I had very little idea of what I was doing at the time. I may not have known how it would turn out, but I had no doubt that this adventure was worth embarking on.

Those first years of Clayco, and truthfully every year since, were full of learning the business and banding together to grow the company from two people to more than 2,000. I surrounded myself with brilliant and compassionate people and together we re-wrote the book on doing business in a transparent and personal way that treats everyone as we would like to be treated. It was then, and still is now, work that I am committed to. Building structures to house the activities that are important for the life and well-being of our communities is part of the legacy that my family has inspired me to leave.

Family Life

In the meantime, Ellen and I were learning the ropes and experiencing the rollercoaster of parenthood and family life. We were blessed with five children and currently, seven grandchildren. Raising our children, sustaining our marriage, and building a company came with as many moments of heartache as it did moments of joy. We suffered the gut-wrenching loss of one of our sons, the mysterious death of Ellen’s beloved father, and then Ellen’s own rare disease diagnosis—cerebroretinal vasculopathy (CRV)—in 2005. For the next five years, Ellen lived just as fiercely as ever, and with a smile on her face, before leaving us to be with the angels in 2010.  To contend with her death,  I turned to my love for travel and the outdoors by roaming the globe alone before ending up in Kathmandu, Nepal and trekking a few hundred arduous miles with a guide. 

A few years later, I met an amazing woman with whom I share similar passions and who is just as dedicated to community impact as I am. Meeting Jane brought magic back into my life, and my lucky streak in life continued on the day that Jane agreed to marry me. Jane was trained in dental medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and then worked in St. Louis as a partner at Premier Dental Partners for 18 years before deciding in 2016 that she would like to focus on community and non-profit work. Since then we have taken two trips to Nepal for Jane to provide dental treatment in remote areas. Jane also believes in mentoring and helping to develop the next generation of great healthcare providers so she currently supervises dental residents at the Mercy Hospital’s Department of Dental Medicine, where she is also a board member. 

Home is wherever Jane and I are together. Currently, we split our time between our homes in St. Louis and Chicago, as well as our ranch in  Colorado—Rosebud Ranch. We have also just begun a new project we are really excited about: the building of Buttercup Ranch down the road from Rosebud in Old Snowmass, Colorado. Together, we are art aficionados and advocates; we love collecting art and have focused our collecting on the work of emerging Black artists from around the world. We are both board members of the St. Louis Opera Theatre and I am on the Business Council at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Jane and I at our ranch, Thanksgiving 2020

The Whole Family. Summer 2020 in Aspen, Colorado

“The experiences I have been through in life have taught me to always keep my priorities straight, to surround myself with people who are just as giving as they are inspiring, and to invest my time and energy into the community in whatever way I can. I begin each day with a hike and an assessment of my priorities, and make sure that my family always comes first. Besides hiking, I also love to cook, to read, and to be active in politics.”

What’s Next

My work with Clayco continues to be of vital importance to me and one of the primary ways I can work on projects that make a difference in the community. I’ve created this website as a way to share my thoughts and some of the things that inspire me, the initiatives that are important to me, and to encourage others that it is easy to do small things that can impact the world for the better.