John C. Kaiser Company was founded by John C. Kaiser in 1928. John
Kaiser was born on a farm in Louisburg, Wisconsin in 1899. He left
the farm in his twenties to pursue other interests. He joined a painting company called Hillig that was working
in southwestern Wisconsin. Bernard Hillig was a noted decorator and
a gratuate of the Fine Arts Academy of Copenhagen.
Hillig and Company traveled throughout the mid-west doing church decorating
and John Kaiser learned the art of decorating during his years with
the Hillig company as well as working with several well known Dubuque
painting firms including the New burg company, a large commercial
painting company, and Dubuque Altar Company.
In the early spring of 1927 he married Eileen H. Bernsden, an accomplished
young concert violinist from Dubuque, in Ludington, Michigan, and
came back to Dubuque and started his own company. The company officially
began on July 1, 1928. The John C. Kaiser Company grew the next
20 years doing all types of decorating and painting work. The company
had its office building at the corner of Dodge and Alpine
streets that was purchased by John Kaiser in 1944. The building
was not only the company bookkeeping office but also was the corner
store that provided a place for Mary Ellen his oldest daughter to
work part time while going to school.
In 1951, the Kaiser Company purchased a building at 68 Main Street
in Dubuque and expanded into a retail paint and wallpaper store
as well as an expanded decorating studio. John Ganshirt who married
John Kaisers oldest daughter came into the business. Ganshirt
was a chemist and Loras College instructor and brought a new
dimension to the company. This period of the company saw large painting
projects, including the Julien Dubuque Bridge, St. Marys Church of Dubuque,
St. Anthonys Church of Dubuque as well as many smaller church projects
and decorating jobs including the 5 Flags Theater Restoration and
the Dubuque Court House.
The paint manufacturing activities of the company also began
during this period. The trademark registered to the company endures
as the company logo, although the manufacturing of paint is no longer done. John Kaisers two grandsons David and Scott
both worked at the business. David, after his Navy service and Scott
both during and after school. David moved to California and Scott
continued at the business learning all facets of a quality decorating
business as well as bringing new generation skills to the business.
John Kaiser died in 1980 and John Ganshirt became president of
the corporation. In 1985 the company purchased
the property at 700 Cedar Cross Road, its current location. The
retail and manufacturing part of the business was discontinued shortly
thereafter, so the company could focus primarily on church decorating.
John Kaisers youngest grandson, Scott, became president in
1996 and continues the family tradition of the finest quality
decorating in the Midwest. Under Scott Ganshirts watch, one
of the largest decorating church projects in the Midwest, the Basilica
at Dyersville was completed. The John C. Kaiser Company continues
as the premier decorating firm, exhibiting skilled techniques and high
quality workmanship in keeping with the traditional art of decorating,
carrying on the old world skills and employing modern technology
to ensure the enduring craftsmanship and standard of excellence
started nearly three quarters of a century ago.