P&Q Profile: Memphis Stone & Gravel’s Hal Williford

By |  May 30, 2018

For Hal Williford, joining the aggregate industry was a way to get back to working outside during the summer. Now 30 years later, Williford is a fixture in the Tennessee market with Memphis Stone and Gravel Co.


Williford

How did you make your way into the aggregate industry?

I had a good friend who worked for Memphis Stone and Gravel as an engineer and I was looking for a way to get out of the office and get back out in the field. I had been a park ranger when I first got out of college and I was used to being outside. He told me [Memphis Stone and Gravel] had a position open in quality control and, of course, I didn’t know anything about it. I came in as a trainee and I learned how to run sand and gravel samples, and then I was trained on doing quality control on asphalt. It was a job for me to do just for the summer until I found something else, but then 30 years later I am still here.

Are there any equipment and technology upgrades you plan on making in the near future?

In the last two years, we have gone to utilizing one of our material suppliers, as far as rolling stock, in a lease program. We have never done that in the history of the company. We might have leased a piece of equipment for a month or so, but now we have gone into a long-term lease [program] to the Komatsu supplier here in town. It has worked out really well. We are looking to maybe doing that at some other facilities.

Memphis Stone and Gravel Co. Photo courtesy of Hal Williford.

What challenges are you currently facing at your company?

Two of the major challenges we face today, and what’s going on in the industry all over the country, is finding the personnel that will stay with you. Our 15- to 30-year employees are very loyal and have very little turnover. It is our one- to two-year employees that work a season and then decide this is not their cup of tea or they will find something else in a different industry. [Graduating high school students and vocational students] can make a good living for their family and have a lot of opportunities in the construction industry, especially in the aggregate industry.

What is your outlook for the rest of 2018?

We are real positive. Our sister company is in the asphalt business and they have a nice backlog of work. Our ready-mix company said they don’t know how they are going to get everything done this year with what they have on the books. It’s very positive. Residential is starting to pick up outside of the Memphis area and in the suburbs. There is a lot of warehousing going on, of course, with FedEx and UPS being here in Memphis. With the river and the rail systems coming through Memphis, there are a lot of storage containers, so warehousing has really been a boom for the last two years and it is still continuing. We feel real positive. There is a lot of pent-up demand.

Five things

FIRST JOB – I took piano lessons when I was 12 years old from the lady across the street. My mom gave her five dollars for piano lessons and I would cut her grass, so she would pay me five dollars for cutting her grass.

TRAVEL SPOT – Down in south Alabama, a place called Kiva Dunes.

HOBBIES – The gym and golf.

BOOK – Seven Days in Utopia: Golf’s Sacred Journey by David L. Cook

SPORTS – University of Memphis football and basketball. Sons went to the University of Alabama, so it is very easy to be an Alabama football fan.

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