CASCO + R|5 History

CASCO History

CASCO evolved from a civil and structural engineering firm originally established by E. George Cassis, P.E. in Litchfield, Illinois in 1959.  Mr. Cassis was a Civil Engineer, earning his B.S. at the University of Missouri, his M.S. at Yale, and ultimately his Ph.D. at Yale and Columbia Universities. Mr. Cassis relocated his firm to Kirkwood, MO in 1962 and it became incorporated as Cassis Associates, Inc. in June of 1963.  Around 1965, in a joint venture with William Tao and Associates, Cassis Associates built a new office building at 2357 59th Street in south St. Louis.  The new facility was shared by both firms.


Within a year of the firm’s inception, services were extended to include architectural work for commercial and industrial clients. Subsequently, services were expanded to cover site selection, interior furnishings, mechanical and electrical work, industrial engineering, materials handling and construction management.


Becoming one of only a few full-service firms in St. Louis, CASSIS Associates, Inc. billed itself as an organization of Engineers, Architects and Construction Consultants rendering comprehensive professional services to Industrial, Commercial, Institutional and Governmental clients. A broad range of services was offered from feasibility studies through planning, design and construction management.

Historical photo of people gathered around a blueprint

The firm’s projects were located in a great many states across the U.S., as well as a number of foreign countries. CASSIS Associates performed projects for office buildings, grocers, restaurants, banks and other sectors. The firm especially thrived in light industrial projects including those for oil and ware and cable companies, and particularly for the paper industry.


In June of 1980 the assets of Cassis Associates were acquired by six of its employees and the firm was relocated to 10820 Sunset Office Drive in Sunset Hills, MO. James C. (JC) Alberts, P.E. became the company’s President, and its other “Principals” were James G. Govaia, P.E., James C. Tegethoff, P.E., Paul J. Huber P.E., Ralph R. Shaw, R.A. and Paul R. Doering.


Initially, light industrial remained the firm’s focus. One of the first large scale projects built under this new management was a corrugated paper box plant in Georgetown, Guyana, South America for the Guyana Liquor Company, a project complete under very challenging conditions. The Principals of the company took turns rotating at the job site to make sure the construction was completed correctly, usually for two weeks at a time, supplying the workers of Guyana with the knowledge and tools necessary to complete the job. Meanwhile, the company was also completing its first projects for a small retailer that would soon sweep the United States, Toys ‘R’ Us.

Historical photo of office workers

J.C. Alberts graduated with his B.S. in Architectural Engineering from the University of Kansas in 1971 and obtained his Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Illinois University in 1977.  Seeing an enormous opportunity, J.C. would apply CASSIS’s national capability to a segment that was served only by a fragmented and locally focused architectural community at the time, retail store development.  The firm would pioneer prototype development and adaptation as a construction document preparation process.


In April of 1985, the company took the name of CASCO Corporation. In the fall of 1987, CASCO relocated to 10877 Watson Road, Sunset Hills, MO. Under JC’s leadership, the firm would enjoy an era of explosive growth by serving retailers developing stores nationally. Toys ‘R’ Us would become the first “category killer” big box type store. CASCO would go on to add The Home Depot, Circuit City, PetSmart. Bed Bath and Beyond, and many, many more. Thousands of successful projects were completed during this era, and the company grew to more than 250 people at one point. CASCO also began offering Site Development Coordination for national retailers and developers and became an early adopter of BIM technology.

Historical photo of a man surveying

JC and the Principals of that era would instill a lasting culture at CASCO, insisting that each client felt a sense of urgency from the firm on every project. Dedicated Project Management, Account Management, and strict adherence to schedules all stressed CASCO’s commitment to Service and to the Client. A weekly thorough review of all work ensured this discipline. The company continues to employ these principles today.


In March of 2009, JC Alberts passed away, far too soon. The remaining Principals decided to stay together and the firm was for a time managed by a committee including them and several in senior management. At the end of 2016 the company was sold to its third generation of ownership.


CASCO is now owned by 10 Principal Shareholders: Daniel E. Cutter; Daniel M. Birke; Darren D. Ditto; Jack W. Reynolds; Michael C. Grapperhaus; Michael T. Lee; James A. Schmitt; Mark A. Spalinger; Michael S. Sundermeyer, and; Peter M. Puskuldian, as well as 20 others holding smaller stakes, all full-time employees in the firm. Plans are now in place to provide for a continuously growing and evolving employee ownership base, providing CASCO stability and certainty for the future.

Old photo of an office building

In 2014, the Board named Daniel E. Cutter, P.E. President, and CASCO’s new Board of Directors ratified that again in 2017. Dan is a 1989 graduate of the University of Kansas, B.S. Architectural Engineering, and is a Professional Engineer in 25 states. Dan began work at CASCO in 1993 as a structural engineer and began a successful career as a Project Manager and Site Development Coordinator shortly thereafter. He went onto manage three of CASCO’s architectural and engineering departments at various periods, as well as two of its major accounts.


Under Dan’s leadership, much of the organization’s cost structure has been streamlined, a new generation of leadership empowered, a new design company, the R|5 Design Agency developed, and CASCO added back civil engineering to its capabilities. Under Dan, the company’s mission grew to providing a complete package of high quality engineering and architectural design services to a wide variety of sectors, public and commercial. Our long-standing commitments to high levels of service, attention to the Client’s needs, and exhibiting an aggressive problem-solving style remained guiding principles.

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CASCO and the R|5 Design Agency relocated to new offices in June of 2018 and relaunched as CASCO + R|5, representing the combination of the rich history of our architecture and engineering company of 59 years with the R|5 Design Agency founded 3 years ago and its amazing portfolio of experiential retail and restaurant design. With the addition of our new the civil engineering group and the development leadership of our seasoned project management team, CASCO and R|5 presents the value proposition of a complete suite of services and experience to help our clients realize their vision and development needs.

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CASCO + R|5 Lobby