True to its Kentucky Roots
Stephens Manufacturing Company of Tompkinsville, Kentucky is celebrating its sixtieth anniversary making a range of stationary and portable concrete plants, mixers and environmental and material handling equipment. It takes on projects for customers across the United States, Canada, and even as far away as New Zealand, yet remains loyal to its local roots and commitment to quality.
Stephens Manufacturing is proudly family-owned and operated, as it continues to build on the tradition of its founder Bill Stephens.
Bill was in the ready-mix business with his own truck and ready-mix plant. He needed a silo, and not wanting to lay off his drivers in the winter, went to the scrapyard, bought some steel and built his own silo with his team. The quality attracted the attention of curious cement salesmen who came by asking who made it.
In a short time, the demand for silos became so great that Bill gave up the ready-mix business entirely and focused his attention on construction for clients in the concrete industry. Bill and Tommy, his son, ran the business for several years before their deaths in 2002 & 2003.
Stephens has a network of dealers who represent the company to a broad array of customers across the United States and Canada. The majority of dealers focus on one state, which has helped them to develop and build business relationships with ready-mix crews in the area. “Everybody knows Stephens,” says Max Stephens, Bill’s son and current chief executive officer.
Stephens Manufacturing has welders and fabricators, electrical department, paint and preparation area and a machine shop of about four thousand square feet, which will more than double in size. The company continues to reinvest in itself and has added a paint booth building with 8,400 square feet.
Today, the business carries on with Max and his daughter Alanna Stephens Deckard, who fills the role of sales and marketing assistant. In a few years Leah, Alanna’s younger sister, who has just graduated high school, will be going to college to study business in preparation to join the company.
The family tradition extends to staff, suppliers and satisfied clients. “It’s about the personal level with us,” says Alanna. “Our customers know they are not buying from somebody they don’t know. The Stephens name has been around for sixty years, and they buy from us because it’s a family business and we work together.”
The company has earned the loyalty of its staff. Many employees have worked there for twenty to thirty years or even longer. One worker retired last Christmas after thirty-eight years and one employee is still working after forty years.
From just a handful of employees back in Bill’s day, Stephens Manufacturing has grown to a combined staff of about 120 working from its 180,000 square-foot main factory in Tompkinsville, Kentucky and a second, 20,000-square-foot building about forty-five minutes away in Burkesville, Kentucky.
Stephens Manufacturing Company provides quality, made-in-the-USA products and services to concrete producers worldwide. These include the Empire Series, the DC Colt, Eagle, Stallion, and a host of mixers, material handling apparatus and environmental equipment such as central dust collectors.
The naming of its products is deliberate, says Max. The state is home to the world-famous Kentucky Derby, and so the company’s portable plant was named Thoroughbred. From there, the company began naming its equipment after other animals, including birds like falcons and eagles.
Stephens Manufacturing is committed to the innovation and development of new products, including the Stephens Workhorse Reversing Drum mixer, and the RCC Portable Twin Shaft mixer. Recent new plant additions are the Falcon, Mustang, and Clydesdale Plants, and the Pony Express Silo.
The Pony Express Silo is portable, has a storage capacity of 1,648 cubic feet and a single 20,000-pound dual wheel axle. It comes outfitted with standard equipment including a screw conveyor, four mechanical leveling jacks, high and low-level indicators and more. The Pony Express can also be used with optional accessories, including a low-pressure aeration blower, dust collectors, larger screw conveyors or even a self-erecting package.
The company’s two newer plants – the Falcon and the Clydesdale – have the same quality workmanship and an assortment of features. The Falcon, the company’s biggest portable plant, can be manufactured to store up to four hundred tons of aggregate and comes with a fifteen horsepower, 240-gallon compressor. It can be upgraded with a wider transfer conveyor. The skid mounted Clydesdale can easily be moved from one location to another and comes with a 440 barrel cement silo with seventy-ton capacity aggregate bins, the plant includes a self-erecting hydraulic package.
To better serve their customers, Stephens also carries an array of parts for the equipment they manufacture and competitors’ plants. It is all in keeping with the company’s commitment to its clients and their needs.
“We build plants to the specifications the customer wants,” says Max Stephens. “We don’t have a production line building the same thing, so we built exactly what the customer wants, all custom-made.” Since properties are never the same size, Stephens Manufacturing has representatives available to go directly to client sites and take measurements and then check for planning requirements.
Back at its headquarters in Tompkinsville, the company’s team of eight in the drafting department work on plans for numerous client projects and in-house prints for its shop allowing “all our fabricators to know what to build and how to build it correctly,” says Max.
It sometimes takes months to build a custom-designed concrete plant from scratch. However, Max says the company is extremely busy and recently sent out fifty-six truckloads in one month.
Stephens Manufacturing Company is well-known throughout the industry and is promoted though a variety of means trade shows, associations, marketing programs and by word-of-mouth from satisfied repeat customers. Many of its dealers have been with the business for years. It also has a company website and appears at the famous construction industry tradeshow, the ConExpo-Con/Agg, held every three years in Las Vegas, most recently this past March.
And after six decades in business, the team at Stephens still maintains its family atmosphere and approach to business. The company is planning to host an open house and factory tour later this year to celebrate its anniversary and welcomes visits from the public along with existing and new customers.
“Tompkinsville is a small town, and a lot of people know the name Stephens, but they don’t actually know what we do or that we build such large equipment which goes across the United States and around the world.”