Through the founding of his company, Las Vegas Paving Corp., Bob Mendenhall has changed the landscape of the Western United States with his innovative discovery of many new technologies.
Born in Canada, Mendenhall moved to Springville, Utah, with his family when he was eight years old. Constantly fascinated by all things mechanical, he spent much of his spare time taking machines and toys apart to see how they worked. His grandfather, G.W. Mendenhall, owned a construction company, and Mendenhall began working as a water boy for the family business when he was very young. In addition to this duty, he also helped construct fences, nailed barbed wire to posts, and performed other responsibilities as assigned.
After the start of World War II, he worked for his grandfather at Utah’s Tooele Ordnance Depot, an installation used to store ammunition and other war supplies. He graduated high school in 1947 and continued gaining knowledge of the construction industry by working for his father, W.D. Mendenhall, at his company, Deal Mendenhall Construction Co. After that, it was on to Vernal, Utah, where he worked as both a timekeeper and on a Cat DW-10 scraper building roads for the state.
In June 1948, he married Paula Clements and the couple moved to Las Vegas in January 1954. In October 1958, Mendenhall established Las Vegas Paving Corp. and became a licensed general contractor and a general building contractor in both Arizona and Nevada.
In 1970, Mendenhall began research and development on processes and equipment for the recycling of asphalt pavements. His work led to America’s first recycled freeway being completed in 1975. Using 100 percent recycled asphalt for construction, the project was completed using equipment Mendenhall designed.
Mendenhall was honored by the U.S. Patent Office on Dec. 28, 1976, receiving the Bi-Centennial Patent No. 4,000,000 for the softening agent technology in Asphalt Pavement Recycling. To date, Mendenhall has 47 different patents in his name. In 1977, he received the industry’s recognition award for his outstanding contribution to the Asphalt Pavement Industry from the National Asphalt Pavement Association. That same year, he started developing the single port direct-fired method of recycling 100 percent asphalt aggregate compositions. This led to the production and sales of the mini cycle plan, which helped to solve the national pothole problem. This self-contained revolutionary invention is now used worldwide to fix potholes.
Mendenhall has held many distinctive titles during his years in Southern Nevada, including president of the Southern Nevada General Contractor’s Association and president of the Southern Nevada Chapter of Associated General Contractors. In 1969, he was commissioned by Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt to serve a four-year term on the Nevada State Contractor’s Board and was recommissioned to that post by Nevada Gov. Mike O’Callaghan.
Mendenhall is a member of the UNLV Palladium Society and received an honorary Doctorate of Law in 2006 from the university. He holds a position on the Mendenhall Innovation Program Advisory Board, and in the College of Engineering, the Mendenhall Innovation and Design Laboratory provides space for students to create, invent, and design prototypes of their projects. In 1984, he was inducted into the Nevada Inventors Hall of Fame for his processes that improve the construction industry and conserve natural resources.
Mendenhall believes in giving back—to his community and to the environment as well. He could be called one of the original members of the “greening of America” movement. He has continuously encouraged the asphalt paving industry to recognize the importance of conservation of natural resources through recycling. He has presented numerous papers on the subject to universities and public agencies, including suggested specifications and guidelines for the entire industry to benefit from his experience.