Neosho, MO – Crowder College Foundation recently named longtime Neosho business owner and Newton County resident John Branham as the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award. Branham received the prestigious honor in recognition of years of service and generosity to Crowder College.
Branham graduated from Neosho High School in 1966. He then became the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in civil engineering from the University of Missouri – Rolla in 1970. He joined the family construction business, founded by his uncle, in 1973.
The company became incorporated as Branco Enterprises, Inc. in 1976 Branham was named president and he became CEO in 2015. Under his leadership, Branco has grown into a leader in commercial, industrial, church, school, and civil construction in the Midwest. The corporation opened a Springfield office in 2013.
In August 2016, Branco partnered with Crowder College for the joint administration of the Carpentry Apprenticeship Program they established in 1993. This valuable collaboration, the first of its kind in the country, has flourished and now allows graduated apprentices to benefit from their experiential learning and qualify for college credit through Crowder at the same time. After completing the program, Crowder College apprentices have the option to receive college credit hours and an Advanced Construction Technology certificate.
Following John’s lead, in January 2017 Branco presented a generous $50,000 gift to Crowder College Foundation to support the construction of Freeman Fieldhouse. “Branco Enterprises was one of the first business partners to commit a gift to the fieldhouse campaign. In doing so, the company led the way and set the pace for future gifts. Their generosity helped lay the groundwork for a successful campaign and, ultimately, completion of the much-needed facility,” said Jim Cullumber, Crowder College Director of Institutional Advancement.
“In my life, I have witnessed occurrences that were game changes for our community. The former Rocketdyne plant that opened in 1956 to product rocket and missile engines brought with it a significant boon for Neosho. Crowder College is another such game-changer,” said Branham. “Not only does it provide affordable, accessible education and training, but Crowder also works with local and area industry to meet workplace needs. This alliance is vital to our economic growth.”
Branham’s civic and philanthropic leadership reaches beyond Crowder College. His investment of time and resources revived the Neosho Holiday Baseball Tournament, now a premier tournament in the nation bringing thousands of dollars in economic impact to Neosho each year. Branco also serves as a Founding Partner in Education for the Neosho Charitable Foundation, the fundraising arm for Neosho R5 Schools.