By Abby Hoover

Industrial Salvage and Wrecking Co. (ISW), based out of 3570 Gardner Ave. in the Northeast Industrial District celebrated 60 years of business on Saturday, Nov. 13, making it one of Missouri’s longest running companies specializing in demolition.

With only a Ford flatbed and a Bobcat skid steer loader, in 1961 Charles Cacioppo Sr. started his company located in Northeast Kansas City. Chuck Sr.’s vision was to tear down houses in the dilapidating areas where he grew up to better his community. Since ISW’s first project, the company has steadily grown and was incorporated in 1984. 

Chuck Sr.’s vision and dedication was instilled in his son Charles Cacioppo Jr., who joined his father full-time in 1972. Chuck Jr. currently serves as the president of ISW.

“When he came on full-time, he encouraged my grandpa to expand the fleet, buy more equipment, and get into the commercial demolition field,” said Anna Cacioppo, Chuck Jr.’s daughter. “We started commercial demolition, it was actually Chuck Jr. that kind of started that generation of business.”

Joining the family business in 1996, Charles Cacioppo III, the current vice president, integrated interior demolition. In 1998, ISW imploded a 10-story hotel, the Heritage House Hotel downtown, and demolished a whole block of buildings for the City of Kansas City, Mo. The younger Cacioppos grew up hearing that ISW was the first company to do an implosion in Kansas City, and now they’ve done five, more than any other local crew.

Together, Chuck Jr. and Chuck III, along with Anna, have operated the company with dedication, staying true to family values. Chuck Jr. started his family in Northeast, the neighborhood where he and his wife grew up.

“There’s a lot of rewards in working with your family,” Anna said. “We’re an animated Italian family, so sometimes it gets interesting, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

Now, ISW has grown to 35 employees, and they’re looking to hire even more. ISW offers their services across the metro, and is licensed in both Kansas and Missouri. Safety is essential to the Cacioppos and their crew – ISW complies strictly with all local, state, federal and city ordinances, and is bonded and insured.

The Hollywood-style push of a button and immediate collapse isn’t real life. Demolishing a large building could take weeks, once all the permits are pulled and prep work is done.

“When we’re actually on site, a big building – if we’re just wrecking it with machines – it could take three weeks, let’s say,” Anna said. “There’s a lot of different processes.”

ISW’s wrecking crews recycle as much as they possibly can, which takes time. 

“The guys will separate it all on site – they’ll use a big, heavy excavator – and they’ll separate rock or metal to recycle those types of materials,” Anna said. “Then we haul all the rest of the debris to a landfill. Houses are a week, some of the smaller houses in Northeast take a couple days.”

Working in tight spaces, especially in historic neighborhoods or in dense urban areas, is no easy task. Sometimes crews dismantle buildings by hand when a machine can’t get the job done, which is time consuming. The demolition of the old Capital Grill and parking garage on the Country Club Plaza took five months.

Continuing the company’s founding mission, ISW has been key in the demolition of various dilapidated buildings in and around Northeast, including the “House of Cards”.

On March 20, 2017, ISW demolished the Royale Inn at 600 Paseo Boulevard as one of the first steps in the $12 million Paseo Gateway Project. At the time, then-City Councilman Scott Wagner called it an opportunity to celebrate the revitalization of the Historic Northeast.

In 2018, ISW demolished the former Ramada Inn, also Park Place Hotel, located in an industrial park on Universal Avenue near I-435 just north of Front Street. After a series of fires and attracting illegal activity, the City awarded the demolition contract to ISW.  The crew drilled 2,200 holes in the hotel to aid the implosion.

“We’ve spent the last 30 days taking out walls and drilling holes for the implosion,” Chuck Sr. said in 2018. “We’ve also been working closely with the city’s Dangerous Buildings Department, the police department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and MoDOT on all the road closures.”

ISW has been contracted for the demolition of various other buildings in Kansas City over the past six decades. In 2018, they demolished Metro North Mall, in 2017 the CenturyLink building at I-435 and Nall, in 2016 Commerce Bank on 89th and State Line Rd., in 2012 6700 Troost.

To celebrate 60 years, the Cacioppo family hosted a small party with their employees, customers and subcontractors. They’d postponed the celebration all year due to COVID-19 risks, but with so much to celebrate, it gave them a much needed boost in morale.

“Now we’re doing rock crushing, focusing on salvaging and recycling is important, and we’re doing bigger and better jobs,” Anna said. “For the future, I think we’re just getting started. We’re always planning on growing, expanding the business in any avenue that presents itself.”

Just a few years ago, Anna and Chuck III opened a construction dumpster company when they found ISW was spending a lot of money for their interior demolitions.

Chuck Jr. has said many times, and shared again with his employees at the anniversary celebration,“I am the trunk and you are the branches. When the trunk grows, the branches grow and that’s what makes a strong tree. Without you none of this is possible.”

Editor’s note: Congratulations to the Cacioppos for 60 years of ISW! This article was Anna Caccioppo’s idea to honor her family’s legacy, making it a complete surprise for Chuck Jr. and Chuck III. Be sure to send them your best wishes for another 60 years!