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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
1955 advertisement. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

JOHN C. KAISER COMPANY. The John C. Kaiser Company was founded by John C. Kaiser in 1928. Kaiser had worked for a painting company called Hillig and Company that was working in southwestern Wisconsin.

Hillig and Company traveled throughout the mid-west doing church decorating, and Kaiser learned the art of decorating as well as working with several well known Dubuque painting firms including the Newburg company, a large commercial painting company, and the DUBUQUE ALTAR MANUFACTURING COMPANY.

Paint cap. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

In the early spring of 1927 Kaiser returned to Dubuque. Officially begun on July 1, 1928, the John C. Kaiser Company grew the next twenty 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.

Company advertising. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding.

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 a decorating studio. The company remained at that location through 1977. John Ganshirt who married John Kaiser’s oldest daughter, came into the business. Ganshirt, 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. MARY'S CATHOLIC CHURCH, ST. ANTHONY'S CHURCH as well as many smaller church projects and decorating jobs including the FIVE FLAGS CIVIC CENTER and the DUBUQUE COUNTY COURTHOUSE.

The paint manufacturing activities of the company began during this period. The trademark registered to the company remains the company logo, although the manufacturing of paint is no longer done. John Kaiser’s two grandson’s 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 property at 700 Cedar Cross Road, its current location. The retail and manufacturing part of the business was discontinued so the company could focus primarily on church decorating.

John Kaiser’s youngest grandson, Scott, became president in 1996. Under Scott Ganshirt’s watch, one of the largest decorating church projects in the Midwest, the Basilica at Dyersville was completed.

In 2010 the company was named John C. Kaiser Interior Decorators.


"Chronology" Telegraph Herald, 1979 p. 15D