January 2024

Defining a Legacy of Giving Back

Like many individuals and organizations during World War II, JE Dunn stepped up to support the United States’ efforts. Under the direction of John Ernest “Ernie” Dunn Sr., the company’s founder, JE Dunn built a wartime supply facility, the Quartermaster Depot, in Kansas City, Missouri. Upon completing the building a month ahead of schedule despite an accelerated timeline that necessitated two shifts totaling 20 working hours per day, Dunn learned his company stood to make a significant profit from the project. He partnered with the federal government to renegotiate JE Dunn’s contract, insisting on payment that would only cover the company’s cost for the Depot and no additional profit. “I have two sons in the armed forces,” Dunn said at the time. “I would feel it an empty victory if I lost one of them in winning this war. But I believe I would feel a lot worse if I made a lot of money out of the war and lost a son. It is my feeling that I am helping protect them by doing at cost whatever war work I do.” 

Although Dunn initially had no desire to publicize his demonstration of resolute responsibility to the country, the war department insisted on telling the story, and he relented. His patriotism garnered national attention from the media all the way to then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who recognized the magnitude of Dunn’s contribution in a written letter. 

“My father was one of the first building contractors to make this patriotic commitment, and it resulted in many others throughout the country taking the same stand,” said Bill Dunn Sr., Ernie Dunn’s son. 

Dunn’s decision to give back more than 80 years ago laid the foundation for the community impact that JE Dunn has had for decades and carries on today. JE Dunn’s corporate philanthropy impacts the many markets around the nation where we build, investing 10% of net income and empowering employees to make an impact through volunteerism and an Employee Match Program.