Land improvement and conservation go hand-in-hand for Montgomery City contractor

Mont Gilbert’s passion for land conservation started when he was a young boy, working with his father on their family farm back in 1953. Currently, he owns his own excavating company while holding the title of the LICA (Land Improvement Contractor of America) Contractor of the Year. Gilbert spends his days working to better conservation throughout mid-Missouri and develop future generations in the industry.

“Once I got involved with networking, the main goal of LICA is conserving soil and water, and that’s what we were all about,” Gilbert said. “It was saving the environment.”

Spending time working on the farm and being surrounded by heavy machinery led Gilbert to start his own business involving different forms of land improvement, such as terrace building, communication work, sewer and water work, surface draining, and much more. As his son got older, they changed their business to Gilbert and Son Construction in 1992, but continued to maintain the same skills and services.

“I have worked for Mont for several seasons,” said Jacob Peak, a senior at the University of Missouri. “He is a great guy that truly wants to leave a lasting impact on the world and make it a better place for his community and his grand kids.”

Throughout Gilbert’s career, he has had opportunities to work with other individuals in the industry, mainly through connections gained from the Land Improvement Contractor of America, LICA, organization.

LICA began as the Ozark Terrace Contractors in Missouri in 1941, with the goal of bringing together individuals of the profession in order to collaborate on different ideas and problems, while also having a social aspect. As the organization grew older, the name transitioned to LICA and a national organization formed. Currently, there is a LICA presence in all 50 states.

“[I got involved in LICA because of] a good friend of mine,” Gilbert said. “We had Continental Western Insurance, and at that time, LICA [offered] insurance and it was grouped together. After the first two years we were in it, I became a district officer. I was the district president for two years and then I got on the state board. I was the secretary and treasurer for two years, vice president and then state president.”

With the networking events, members have the opportunity to meet to discuss different issues and topics facing the industry.

“We are family oriented,” Gilbert said. “We want them to bring family to conventions and the meetings. Try to move it around [to different places]. We always try to have kids stuff.”

On top of trying to make different meetings and conventions accessible and a vacation-like event for families to attend, LICA also tries to prepare the next generation to take over the businesses in the industry.

“We are in the process of making a junior program, which will include us going to different trade schools where we could offer different apprenticeships and internships to students,” Gilbert said.

LICA also hosts different field days and workshops for youth and new comers to the industry to learn about different tricks of the trade.

“Everyone is building their business not to sell but to pass it on,” Gilbert said.  “It is that kind of a group.”

“I have known Mont for most of my life, and the work he has put in to helping change our community for the better is amazing,” said Sydney Queathum, a freshman at the University of Missouri-Columbia. “He is a community leader and a role model for those around him.”