Going the Extra Mile
From unlikely beginnings, Scurlock Industries has found great success. The company was started by Vance Scurlock who was a certified professional accountant (CPA) for Price Waterhouse in the 1930s and later worked for the FBI and the Mercantile Bank of Jonesboro. In 1953, he decided to cash in his retirement to start Jonesboro Concrete Pipe.
His son and company president Jim Scurlock explained: “He didn’t know much about concrete, He just thought it would be easy. He just wanted to start a business, and over the years, he learned it was a lot harder than he thought it would be, but we make a quality product. We can do anything, and I say that literally,” he said.
“He was stationed here at Jonesboro. We have sand and gravel in the ridge that we’re on,” so concrete made sense, Scurlock said. “He would come down after work, and he would water the pipe and keep it moist so it wouldn’t crack. He did payroll at home, and his office was a four by eight sheet of plywood nailed on the side of the building where he could put paperwork.”
Vance Scurlock was known for his unwavering desire to succeed, and he worked long days to do so, his son recalled. “The bank came up to him and said, ‘Vance, you’re doing a great job, but you can’t have two bosses. You’ve got to either work full-time at the bank, and I’ll make you president, or you need to go work full-time at the pipe company.’” The rest was history.
Jonesboro Concrete Pipe manufactured small-diameter sewer pipe, four inches through eighteen inches and four feet long. After developing that operation, Scurlock purchased a concrete plant in Springfield, Missouri called Rose Con Pipe in 1966.
Scurlock continued to expand, building a new plant in Fayetteville, Arkansas called Tri State Precast. In 1995, he purchased a plant in Miami, Oklahoma called Three Rivers Precast. While all plants operated under Scurlock, each plant had its own name because that was what he felt would be best for business.
“My father felt that Springfield, Missouri would not want to buy from Jonesboro, Arkansas, so we moved that way for a long time, and then we realized that our reputation was so good that we could get orders from somebody who would ask, ‘Can you make concrete pipe like the pipe company in Fayetteville?’” Scurlock explained.
“It’s a big yellow truck that pulls up,” Brad Johnson, general manager of the Fayetteville location noted. “The customer doesn’t know where it came from. He doesn’t care. He just wants to make sure he got his product, and that’s what we do.”
As of December 27, 2007, the various entities that make up the company were renamed. Scurlock Industries of Jonesboro Inc., Scurlock Industries of Springfield Inc., Scurlock Industries of Fayetteville Inc. and Scurlock Industries of Miami Inc., all fall under the ownership of Scurlock Holdings Inc.
Scurlock Industries remains family-owned and locally operated while competing in a market of large multinational industry players. It has found success by offering quality products with an unbeatable service standard and by building strong relationships with repeat customers – relationships that they hope will outlast even their products.
One such example of its ability to satisfy even the most unusual demand is when Scurlock Industries of Jonesboro got a request to build an order of oversized box culverts for Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Apparently the air force was looking to test some of their newest deep penetration bombs and needed someone able to precast a box that would replicate an underground bunker. Noting that Scurlock Industries has forms that adjust to pretty much any need, Scurlock said, “we told them we could make it, but trucking was going to cost more than the product.” He was assured that price was not the issue; they were having trouble simply finding someone willing to quote such a massive box. A couple months later, seven oversized loads were on their way to Florida, never to be heard from again.
Scurlock Industries’ commitment to quality and service while completing projects like this quickly made it a leader in its small corner of the concrete pipe industry. It now offers a variety of drainage solutions such as concrete and plastic pipe, box culverts, bridges, inlets and junction boxes, manholes, wetwells, grease traps and numerous other precast concrete products.
The company takes great pride in its local roots and providing the level of service upon which its reputation has been built. Doing more than what is required for a customer is just part of the job.
When flooding in northwest Arkansas wiped out a bridge for Washington County that was a necessary part of the transportation infrastructure in the community, Scurlock Industries provided a replacement bridge in a hurry.
At the time, the company was debuting a new line of three-sided precast bridge structures, and Scurlock rushed to produce one that worked perfectly for this job. The bridge was functional in no time – as was the community –thanks to each of the Scurlock plants rapidly coming together to produce results which would not have been possible otherwise.
“We are part of the community. We are a family-owned business, and we compete against the big behemoths of the world, and we have to go the extra mile to take care of people and do the uncommon, and that’s kind of what we did on the bridge project to get the road back open again,” explained Johnson.
The collaboration of each of its locations gives it the ability to respond quickly to the needs of its customers, and this is why Scurlock Industries is so well regarded in the industry. When Arkansas State University (ASU) decided to install Astroturf in its football stadium, they quickly found out that the new turf did not absorb rainwater the same way as their grass field and their entire drainage system would need to be replaced. Luckily, they knew the company for the job. A new underground detention system was designed including 1,300 feet of 42” concrete pipe with custom inlets, and Scurlock teamed up with local contractors working tirelessly to produce, install, and relay the turf before ASU’s opening game against Army. Within sixty days the entire job was complete and the football team was back on the field practicing for their big game.
Though it has multiple locations, these and many other project examples prove that the company operates seamlessly as one entity with open lines of communication and no bureaucratic chain of command. This allows it to use the full capacity of each of its locations to benefit its customers.
“Each one of our facilities has the expertise, the engineers, the production people, the salespeople. We all produce the same lines of products, where one of us isn’t a pipe plant, and one of us isn’t a bridge plant, and one of us isn’t a box plant. When you have a special project like that, people can come to us and say, ‘This is our idea. Make this happen,” said Johnson. This is where Scurlock Industries excels.
Scurlock Industries’ service area covers a radius of 200 to 250 miles around each of its plants but, “we will do almost anything we can if it is practical.” Sometimes, projects happen even if they are impractical, as the Eglin Air Force Base project shows.
As a member of American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) and the American Concrete Institute (ACI), Scurlock Industries takes advantage of the associations’ resources and support. To be competitive, it actively engages its employees through participation in training opportunities.
Its employees are an extension of the Scurlock family. While hard work plays a role in the company’s success, the relationships that have been developed with its employees have certainly played an important part in the company’s culture.
“It’s kind of a family company. Of course, they’re not all Scurlocks, but like Brad, we’re like brothers, or father and son,” Scurlock joked. Johnson chimed, “We had this conversation earlier this week. I’d rather go father and son. I already admitted to that.” Their laughter and banter was truly infectious and genuine.
As a smaller entity operating in the market, the ever-increasing regulations and red tape sometime make it difficult for companies like Scurlock to compete with the resources of their larger rivals but Scurlock has found a way to hold its own.
“It’s not a big deal when you are a large shop, but when you are a small shop that is competing against these larger shops, it matters to us, and it makes a big difference,” stated Johnson. More and more companies are being bought up by the larger players in our industry to reduce some of these burdens, but our commitment to quality products and customer service has done well to solidify our place among the competition.”
Small but mighty, Scurlock Industries intends to carry on with more of what it has done throughout the years while identifying growth opportunities for the future. “We’re just trying to do the same thing better and more efficiently. It’s a hard row to hoe sometimes, but the goal is just the same,” said Scurlock.
“Jim’s dad used to say that the goal was not to make himself rich, it was to provide a living for local families,” Johnson acknowledged. And that is what it will continue to do. “We don’t drive fancy cars, and we don’t have fancy offices, and sometimes you didn’t like it, but you understand it, and I’ve been here twenty-nine years, and I’m sure glad we did it that way.”
As it grows, Scurlock Industries is staying true to its past. The hard work, dedication and drive of its founder are still alive and well within the company today.