P&Q Hall of Fame Profile: Charles S. Luck III

By |  February 14, 2018

Charles S. Luck III

What is the measure of a man’s success in life?

Is it how much money he earned? How great his business grew? How many possessions he accumulated?

Charlie Luck IV, president and CEO of Luck Companies, explores this age-old question while reflecting on his father, Charles Luck III. To Luck IV, the makeup of a man’s success in life comes down to something far more meaningful.

“The things that really matter are the relationships and the impacts you have on others,” he says. “That’s what’s going to outlive you. That’s what your legacy is really going to be about. How did you engage people?”

Luck Stone, one of the largest producers of crushed stone in the nation, was founded on the philosophy that “if you do right by your people, they will do right by you.” Luck III carried on that tradition from his father and reinterpreted the company’s values during his tenure as president and CEO.

In an era of command and control leadership, Luck III adopted the phrase “we care” and lived it at his organization.

“We’ve always had a mindset of treating people right,” says Luck III, whose company’s headquarters is based outside of Richmond, Virginia. “Our greatest asset is our people. People have asked me over the years why we have been as successful as we have been. I say it’s simple: the people who work for us.”

A leadership precedent set forth by his father, Charles Luck Jr., people are Luck III’s priority. For more than 60 years, he’s instituted visionary methods to develop people and open doors for people in the communities he serves.

“You leave it better than you found it,” says Cynthia L. Haw, daughter of Charles Luck III. “I think that’s something he’s really worked on doing with Luck Stone. They’re trying to leave the world, our environment, a better place than what it is. I feel like that is something that can go across the board, not just in business but it can be in your personal life, at the office or wherever you are.”

Luck’s career

Charles S. Luck III, left, joins his father, Charles Luck Jr., in the Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame. Luck Jr. was enshrined in the Hall’s inaugural class in 2013. Photos courtesy of Luck Companies

Before joining his father in the family business, Luck III graduated in 1955 from Virginia Military Institute and served in the United States Air Force for two years following graduation. He resigned as a first lieutenant.

Luck III began his career with the company nearly 30 years after his father established Luck Stone.

“My dad was my mentor, a person I had an extremely close relationship with,” he says. “At an early age he gave me a lot of insights on how to live a good life [and] leadership. He was a people person. He loved people, cared about people. He was a very giving person.”

When Luck III started at Luck Stone, he worked in a number of capacities. He was named president and CEO in 1965, leading the company through three decades of expansion and innovation during his tenure.

In the early 1970s, Luck Stone demonstrated its leadership as a technological pioneer with the implementation of computerized ticketing at sales offices. Later that decade, the company developed fully automated, unattended crushing plants.

Today, Luck III continues to serve Luck Companies as chairman of the board while his son leads the company as president and CEO. The company operates 24 facilities, employs 680 people and will celebrate its centennial in another five years.

Photo courtesy of Luck Companies

Jim Van Ness, who serves Luck Stone‘s Central Region as regional vice president, admires Luck III, pictured at right, for two particular leadership characteristics: his humility and his ability to connect with people. “Whether he’s talking to the governor, [a] miner, one of our associates or an associate’s spouse, he is completely present in that conversation,” Van Ness says.

“I hope that if I reach his point in life that I have the same open-mindedness, supportiveness [and] progressive mindset that Dad has, particularly around people. At the end of the day that’s what our company is all about,” Luck IV says.

Luck III has been an industry leader beyond just his company. He has held leadership positions in many of the industry’s associations. He was a past chairman of the National Stone Association, as well as a past president of the Virginia Aggregates Association.

Always giving back

In addition to being highly dedicated to the aggregate industry, Luck III is one who has poured himself into the community.

He’s volunteered his time to a number of organizations, including the capital campaign for the Children’s Museum of Richmond, which he served as co-chairman. Luck III also served Mary Baldwin College as chairman of the board of trustees.

“He’s continued to be the great leader that he has been, whether it’s at Luck Stone, in the community or within our family,” says Terrell L. Harrigan, daughter of Luck III. “His patience, integrity, care and also his honesty… he tries to live [those] values. That is shown when he is able to support causes that he believes in.”

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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