Kiewit Corporation traces its history to 1884, when Peter and Andrew Kiewit formed Kiewit Brothers, an Omaha, Neb., masonry contracting partnership. It was a logical move for two sons of a brick maker, who moved to the booming city a half dozen years before.
In 1889, Kiewit Brothers was awarded its largest masonry contract, the 7-story Lincoln Hotel. The brothers ventured into general contracting in 1900 with construction of the Bekins Warehouse. They dissolved their partnership in 1904, and Peter continued the business as a sole proprietor.
Peter Kiewit had six children. His fifth child and youngest son, also named Peter, was born in 1900. This is the Peter Kiewit best known for developing the company into a major national contractor during the 20th century.
In 1912, 23-year-old Ralph and 21-year-old George joined their father as partners in the business. When the elder Peter Kiewit died in 1914, Ralph took charge of the business. In 1924, the company reached the 40-year mark and landed its first million-dollar contract — the 10-story Livestock Exchange Building in the South Omaha meat-packing district. Young Peter served as project superintendent. When George left the firm that year, the burden of running the company fell to Ralph and Peter. Peter ran the field operations, while Ralph supervised the estimating and bidding activities.
The company landed several significant projects in the late 1920s that remain Nebraska landmarks: the Nebraska State Capitol Tower (1927), Joslyn Art Museum (1928) and Union Station (1929).
When Ralph Kiewit moved to California in 1931, Peter dissolved the family firm and reorganized as Peter Kiewit Sons', Co. The new firm had assets of $125,000. To conserve cash and motivate employees, he began selling shares of company stock to key managers. This philosophy of employee ownership would become a major factor in the company's future success.