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Virginia-based Luck Stone settling into Georgia

By |  April 15, 2020
Charlie Luck, whose company expanded into Georgia in 2018, represents the third generation of Luck Stone family leadership. Photo: Luck Companies

Charlie Luck, whose company expanded into Georgia in 2018, represents the third generation of Luck Stone family leadership. Click to enlarge | Photo: Luck Companies

Luck Stone will celebrate its 100th anniversary in another three years, and so much of the company’s growth over the last century transpired within the state of Virginia.

Much of the company’s growth in the years to come, however, is likely to happen outside of Virginia. Recent deals, including the 2018 acquisition of Stephens Industries near Atlanta, indicate as much.

“We knew there were limited opportunities for us to grow in Virginia, where we have a large market share,” says Charlie Luck, president and CEO of Luck Companies, during an interview at the Georgia Construction Aggregate Association’s 2020 Management Workshop & Expo. “We saw the Southeast as an opportunity. We saw all of the mega trends point to population growth in the Southeast. We also looked at where we felt our values and beliefs would culturally match the best.”

Luck Stone found a match in the state of Georgia with the company John D. Stephens founded two decades ago. The Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant, adjacent to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, represents Luck Stone’s entry to the state of Georgia.

“We’ve been down here now since October 2018,” Luck says. “We really enjoyed the first 12-plus months. It’s been a lot of work just like any new integration, learning from our new associates while introducing them to our values and safety culture and building relationships with customers and partners in this exciting new market.”

Connecting people

An aerial view of the Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant, which is situated near the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Photo: Luck Companies

An aerial view of the Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant, which is situated near the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Click to enlarge | Photo: Luck Companies

Within Georgia, Luck Stone’s focus remains on optimizing the Stephens Industries purchase. The acquisition, after all, was the largest in Luck Stone’s long history, meaning the integration is ongoing.

According to Luck, the integration in Atlanta has been very positive thus far.

“We have found that the customer base is largely family oriented,” Luck says. “That’s been wonderful. We work the best with other family-owned businesses. To have a multi-generation mindset – a long-term approach – we are able to do things to partner with them that are a lot easier to do than if they had a 10-year mindset.”

But the customer base in Atlanta isn’t the only component of the integration that excites Luck. The Stephens Industries acquisition also brought to Luck Stone a number of individuals who know the customers, the market and how to efficiently produce virgin aggregate and a variety of recycled aggregate products.

A Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant associate inspects the quality of the 89 product as it is conveyed into a stockpile. Photo: Luck Companies

A Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant associate inspects the quality of the 89 product as it is conveyed into a stockpile. Click to enlarge | Photo: Luck Companies

“We have super talented people down here who know the site, the equipment, the geology and the people,” Luck says.

A number of Luck Stone leaders migrated to Atlanta to introduce resources to employees, including new equipment, competitive benefit options, and technical training.  Joe Carnahan, for example, is regional vice president of Luck Stone’s Southeastern Region, which consists of Georgia and South Carolina. Carnahan now lives in the Atlanta area and is regularly involved with the Atlanta-Stephens Plant, as well as the company’s Kershaw Plant in South Carolina.

In addition to Carnahan, Luck Stone brought Warren Paulson, a veteran plant manager, to the Atlanta-Stephens Plant for about a year to help lead through the integration and mentor others. Luck Stone’s Katie Kosloski, who relocated to Atlanta, recently succeeded Paulson at the plant. Additionally, Luck Stone associate Trevor McLouth moved to Atlanta upon the acquisition to take on a leadership role at the plant.

Luck’s son, Richard is also expected to move to Atlanta in the spring. Richard, who represents the fourth generation of Lucks to work within the company, will spend a couple of years in the Southeast market, according to Charlie.

“As we think about him succeeding me in the company, we feel it’s really important for him to work in each of our markets up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” Charlie says. “That’s a critical part of his growth and development.”

Pursuing growth

Associates at the Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant pick deleterious materials, such as wood, asphalt and plastic, from a conveyor belt. Photo: Luck Companies

Associates at the Luck Stone Atlanta-Stephens Plant pick deleterious materials, such as wood, asphalt and plastic, from a conveyor belt. Click to enlarge | Photo: Luck Companies

Luck Stone’s decision to expand into the Southeast stemmed from a Vision 2020 initiative that company leaders embarked on several years ago. The company is currently on to another initiative – Vision 2025 – that’s made up of 24 people across four teams.

“We’re challenging those 24 people to envision the future, to envision what Luck Companies is going to look like five years from now” Charlie says. “By the time we get to 2025, how will we evolve, grow, change and meet the changing world of employment, the changing customer demand, the changing environmental challenges?”

The Vision 2025 teams have traveled the United States to benchmark leading companies in data, culture, financial best practices and efficiencies.

“We want to push our focus on positively impacting people to the next level,” Charlie says. “We believe there is yet another horizon for us to make our company that much more attractive to a very competitive workforce.”

“I think every organization has to decide, based on their shareholders and owners, what philosophy they want to pursue when it comes to growing the company,” he says.

However Luck Stone pursues growth, it is important to the company that the people who become a part of the organization embody specific values. Luck Stone’s core values include commitment, leadership, integrity and creativity.

“We’re looking for those four characteristics in people,” Charlie says. “Our leadership approach encourages individuals to lead in alignment with organizational and personal core values.” 

With Stephens Industries, Luck Stone realized through the due diligence process that the companies were a match on values.

“On all fronts, everybody has grown tremendously,” Luck says. “We’ve all become one. It’s been a super cool experience.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

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

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