Lou Richardson: Building Las Vegas
It is not possible to list with brevity and without awe, the commercial, federal and civic projects managed and completed by Lou Richardson, founding CEO of Richardson Construction Inc. From the palm-lined sweep of the Downtown Entry Corridor to the soaring student spaces of CSN’s Telecommunications Building and the Office of Admissions and Student Services on the campus of UNLV, to the 148‐acre addition to Sunset Regional Park and the aging solidity of the Housing Authority’s Marble Manor and Ruby Duncan Manor, to the award-winning reconstruction of the Historic Fifth Street School, Richardson, married for over thirty years to artist and gallery owner Vicki Richardson, is a man of few words who has allowed the depth, scope, beauty and range of his work to speak for him.
What brought me here was just the curiosity of the West Coast. I lived in New Jersey. I was going through divorce and got tired of shoveling snow, so I thought I’d try West. I had a friend who lived out here, actually, lived in California, who invited me to come out and work for him. And Vicki had a brother who lived in Vegas. We decided to come visit him. After I visited, I decided, “Hey, might not be a bad place.” And, so we settled here in Vegas. The weather the landscape, there was a lot of building going on. I felt there was an opportunity for me to do something. I worked for another company for a few months, then got my license here and started my own. This was in 1979. I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina and went to school in Hampton, Virginia. After I finished school in Hampton, I went to service. After the service, I got a job in Camden, New Jersey with Campbell Soup. I stayed in New Jersey about seven years. Contracting wasn’t a passion, actually. It was just sort of by accident. I was working with a friend in New Jersey; we were just doing a little fixing up of houses and things, and he said let’s go into business. We were going into business and I looked around one day, and it was just me — nobody else. Then I figured that I can do it. It was kind of hard to break into contracting here. You had to have your license to bonding and your own insurances, and a lot of companies were skeptical of giving me the opportunity, giving me the bonding. I had to go to California to get some of the things that I needed to actually do business and bid jobs. I’d go through the bidding process and get the papers and everything together and then when it was time to turn everything in, I’d be told, “Oh, you can’t get this because you need something else.” Then another friend of mine, from the other community, sort of whispered to me, “Hey, you need to do this.” There were a few Black contractors but none were doing the magnitude of work that I was doing. I was doing schools and parks, and those jobs that require competitive bidding. I’ve done work with the city, county, state — the Pearson Community center, Walnut Community center, Fitzgerald school, Cunningham school, Carey school, Thorpe school, Black Mountain Community Center in Henderson, Gibson Middle School in Henderson. We did parks for the Department of Reclamation, projects for the Water District. Presently, we’re finishing up a major baseball field for Clark County, Mountains’ Edge. We did Lone Mountain Park; we did Lorenzi Park; we did Ed Fountain Park. We did a lot of miscellaneous small parks for the city. The opportunities came up and the bids came up. As you walk around, you’ll find that I have various things sprinkled throughout the entire city, not just one part. I feel pretty satisfied that I was able to accomplish those things.
Jeff Scheid of Jeff Scheid Photography