Kennedy Brothers Induction Speech

Craig Honor Wall Ceremony

Taytum Adkins, Criterion Editor

    When William Kennedy became president and his brothers, Robert, and Stephen Kennedy became vice-presidents of Rock Road Companies, they took an oath to give the best quality and service to their customers as well as their community. The meaning behind their promise is both from the company and its employees.

     If you have ever driven on the interstate on your way out of town, or gone to the airport to travel for a family vacation, you most likely saw the work of Rock Road Companies. They have worked awfully hard both as a company and as individual people to earn the respect and admiration of the organizations they work with. While we might not think about it, the infrastructure of our city and beyond was the work of this proud local company.

     If you look at their newly redesigned website, the very first thing you see is Rock Road’s promise: “Paving Tomorrow’s Future, Today with Quality, Innovation, Flexibility, and Customer Satisfaction.”

     Different companies were merged by the brothers to make this annually awarded company and what was once a small, traveling business has now become an incredibly successful business from Southwestern Wisconsin through Northern Illinois.

    Rock Road Companies has received many awards for their impeccable service including the National Pavement Association Distinguished Service Award, Forward Janesville Employer of the Year, The Daily Reporter Top Projects of 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Annual Award for Outstanding Airport Construction, and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority Contractor of the Year. Annually from 2004 to 2017, Rock Road received the National Asphalt Pavement Association Diamond Achievement Commendation for overall quality, safety, and service.

    They started to use these skills back in high school. Stephen graduated with the class of 1975, and Robert with the class of ‘78. Steve was on the Craig football, basketball, and baseball teams. He lettered in all three of these sports and was part of the Letterman’s Club for the last three years of his high school career. Robert was involved in athletics as well. These included golf, basketball and track. All three Kennedy brothers went on to get a degree in either business or engineering. Robert Kennedy graduated from Dunwoody Industrial Institute of Minneapolis, Minnesota and Stephen attended the Wisconsin University of Stevens Point, where he continued to play football.

    It was not always planned for these three to work together. While Rock Road Companies has always been a family business, there are five Kennedy brothers, so the chance of these three inheriting the company was not definite. None of them said that they had planned work together, but that it has been a very fulfilling experience. These three have managed to work together to grow the company and further its community outreach. Robert said that working with his siblings is rewarding, challenging and satisfying. He said, “‘You can always trust family.’’’

    The name “Rock Road Companies” was newly established when the Kennedy brothers took over the company, but its start was in the year 1913 by their great-grandfather, Matthew Kennedy. Matthew and the rest of the crew would get on a train and traveled from Wisconsin all the way to the Dakotas to provide their services.

     The small start was very slow growing, but in the year 2008, Rock Road Companies won the Forward Janesville Employer of the Year, and since then, the company has grown to over 200 employees with several offices throughout Wisconsin and Illinois.

    Not only are William, Robert, and Stephen Kennedy great businessmen; they are also great husbands, fathers, sons, and brothers. The Kennedy brothers are family-oriented.  When Stephen was asked what he is most proud of about his life, he could have said his successful business, but instead, he unwaveringly chose his family. The youngest of the three, Stephen is married to his wife Karen of 37 years with 2 daughters and a son. He also has 2 grandchildren under the age of 4. William has been married for over 30 years and has since had 5 children. Robert also has been married to his wife Joanne for 38 years and has three children: Brandon, Marlie, and Joe. Robert’s two sons have been groomed to take over Rock Road Companies.

    Being men of both business and family, they set up the Kennedy Family Foundation to support not-for-profit organizations in celebration of Rock Road Companies’ 100th anniversary. This foundation supports programs that vary anywhere from public safety, to education, to health care. Some of their beneficiaries include Agrace Hospice Care, Boys & Girls Club, GIFTS Men’s Shelter, Janesville Farmers Market, and Rock County First Responder Community Initiatives.

     They work closely with the Boys and Girls Club, hosting an annual charity golf outing, which donates nearly all of the proceeds to this amazing organization.

    To know that Rock Road Companies is owned by brothers with a strong moral compass goes to show that a company can work towards a higher economic status as well as the bettering of the community. Having brothers work with each other every day to create what has become the infrastructure of their hometown shows the power of family roots. Even with all of the long-term improvements they have made, as Robert likes to say, they take it one day at a time. Now, can we get a round of applause for these honor wall recipients, the Kennedy brothers.