Now days, it’s almost unheard of for people to stay with a company for a decade.
But Clark Thompson, Division Manager for Birmingham, AL, Montgomery, AL, Huntsville, AL and Biloxi, MS, has been with Penhall for over 25 years. What’s more is that he’s been in the concrete cutting business for 29 years.
And how times have changed.
In 1985, when Clark was just out of high school, his small hometown in West Virginia didn’t provide much in the way of work. So he and his friend (now brother-in-law) decided to head south to find more lucrative jobs.
While Florida was their destination, they discovered ample work opportunity during their stopover in Atlanta, GA. On the advice of some helpful gentlemen they met while eating breakfast at their hotel, Clark and his brother-in-law went to the outskirts of Atlanta, found a local newspaper, responded to an ad for concrete cutting, and were interviewed later that day.
The very next day they started work.
Training for concrete cutting work was drastically different back then. Their training consisted of learning how to load and unload the saw on the back of a truck and practicing cutting a 50-foot chalked line in a concrete parking lot. The thought process was that, if you could cut a straight line within a few hours, you were an operator.
One of the most daunting aspects of the new job was driving a huge one-ton truck on Interstate 285. Being from a very small town in West Virginia, Clark was relatively unfamiliar with such a heavily travelled highway and it took a few months of driving on them until he felt confident.
The strong work-ethic that was ingrained in Clark and his brother-in-law was quickly recognized by their boss. He encouraged them to reach out to their friends back in WV to see if anyone was interested in heading south to work. A few did, and for about a year there were five of them working over 100 hours a week and living together in an apartment.
In 1989, his brother-in-law started his own concrete cutting company called Metro Concrete Cutting. The company started with one flat saw truck and eventually grew to eight diamond trucks. Clark also established Metro Loading and Hauling to serve as the demolition side of Metro Concrete Cutting.
To grow their business and ensure that they were readily available to meet customers’ needs, Clark and his brother-in-law purchased the large cell phones available at the time and wired them up to the horn of their truck. Whenever they were out cutting and a phone call came in, the horn would start blowing.
Needless to say, their business grew quickly, as did their reputation for providing reliable, high-quality work.
In the late 1990s, Penhall Company was expanding East. Penhall was impressed with the service offerings and customer base of Metro Concrete Cutting and in 1998 purchased the company, keeping Clark and his brother-in-law on the operations team.
Around this time, Penhall also had the opportunity to purchase a small concrete cutting company in Birmingham, Alabama that had four, worn-out diamond trucks. Penhall approached Clark about relocating to Birmingham to get things back on track and grow the concrete cutting business in Alabama.
Clark accepted the opportunity and relocated to Birmingham in June of 1999. In a short period of time, Clark grew the business to encompass two more offices in Huntsville, AL, Montgomery, AL.
When the economy in Birmingham went through a period of decline, Clark looked around the region to see where there was more opportunity for work. The Gulf Coast was booming so he opened up an office in Biloxi, MS and was able to relocate people instead of laying them off.
From the four trucks that he started with, Clark now oversees 29 diamond trucks, two dump trucks, two compressor trucks, and a Brokk. Two additional diamond trucks will also be added to his division in 2014.
When Clark’s not hard at work serving Penhall customers and supporting his crew, he enjoys spending time with his family. He and his two sons deer hunt on their property in West Virginia every year over the week of Thanksgiving. He also takes his wife, sons and daughters out on the boat almost every weekend to enjoy the lakes in Talladega, Alabama.