Pipeline And Manhole Rehabilitation Contractor Succeeds With Faith And Family

Faith, family and friendship create an environment for consistent growth and success in the Texas Hill Country.

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John Fuquay will tell you that a family-first philosophy has been key to his company’s amazing growth and success. The road has not always been smooth, but faith, family and friendship have provided the tools to thrive even through the toughest situations.

Fuquay is the CEO of Fuquay Inc., based in Austin and New Braunfels, Texas. The company is one of the state’s largest manhole rehabilitation and trenchless technology contracting firms.

A unique starting point

Fuquay’s father, J. Darryl Fuquay, had an extensive background in construction as a concrete salesman. Unfortunately, in 1972, long hours and stressful work contributed to a heart attack at the very young age of 32. Four short years later, Darryl suffered a second heart attack that led to triple bypass surgery. Soon after his recovery, he became the vice president of an Austin-based heavy highway construction company. In late 1984, he realized he needed to seriously consider a career change.

John remembers the day. “One evening my dad came home from work and pulled up in the driveway with a hydromulch trailer in tow, telling us that since the doctor told him he needed to slow down, we were going to start our own company.”

At the time, John was finishing his senior year in high school and preparing for his college football career. His older brother, Steve, was attending college at the University of Texas, and a friend, Jerry Schmid, was living with the family. The three boys worked it out so they would take turns operating the hydromulch machine between class schedules and football practice, while Mom and Dad secured the contracts, ran the office and performed the estimating.

Business grew slowly and steadily, providing a good income for the family and their one employee, but in February 1987, this calm was sadly interrupted when Darryl passed away after a third heart attack. His wife, Corrie, gathered her sons together after the funeral service and asked candidly what direction they wanted to take now. The consensus was that their father would have wanted them to continue what he started, so in true Texas style they pulled up their bootstraps and got to work.

“My mom, president and co-founder of Fuquay Inc., one of the strongest people I know, fought through this great loss, an economic downturn and dwindling savings to make what we have today,” Fuquay relates. “Her never-wavering faith in God and the help of friends in the Austin area that both she and my father had known for years helped us get through the tough times.”

It was this culmination of faith, friendship and family that formed the culture of the Fuquay organization and guides it in all of its business dealings to this day.

No grass growing

Although the hydromulch business was quite strong, the family knew that if they were to grow they would need to offer other services. In the late ‘80s, the father of one of Steve’s friends approached the firm to introduce them to silt fence technology. Since they had experience and contacts with erosion control from their hydromulching work, it was thought they might be a perfect fit for providing this new service.

Before jumping in, the Fuquays wanted to test to make sure that adding this service would be a profitable business decision, so they developed a plan for doing a series of dry runs. Utilizing an area on the family “ranchito” in Dripping Springs, Texas, they did a mock timing and setup of an actual silt fence installation project approximately 50 feet in length. They enacted exactly what a typical installation would involve. They started the stopwatch and timed the equipment setup, site prep, installation, tear down and pull away. Once the timing calculations were made they were able to develop an accurate price structure so the new service could be billed profitably.

As time went on and new services were added, each service was tested in the same way – performing a dry run to make sure that it could be performed in a cost-effective and profitable manner, and determining a fair market price before adding it to their service portfolio.

“This testing wasn’t always perfect. There were some things that we tried that looked good on paper and ultimately flopped, and we found some that were more successful than we anticipated. The bottom line is that in order to grow you have to be willing to try new things,” Fuquay says. “Without trying new things your company will plateau. That’s OK, but you won’t be able to keep good employees if you have no way to let them grow, expand their horizons and realize their dreams while you’re experiencing yours. They’ll just move on.”

At Fuquay Inc., keeping good employees is tantamount to success. Fuquay considers his employees family members, always working to create and sustain an environment of friendship and family inside and outside company hours. When looking for new team members, Fuquay’s motto is look to and hire friends. He knows this approach is unpopular with most business owners, but it has served him and his company exceedingly well over the years.

A prime example was David Springfield. Springfield was introduced to Fuquay through a mutual friend. His background was not connected to construction or trenchless technology in the least. Regardless of this, Fuquay spotted a strong work ethic and eagerness to learn and felt he should give Springfield a shot to prove himself. Taking this chance led to the development of one of Fuquay’s strongest team leaders and the explosive growth of one of its most profitable divisions. Springfield took on any challenge placed in front of him, one of which was learning and leading the firm’s Sprayroq spray-applied polyurethane trenchless technology and UV-cured CIPP rehabilitation divisions.

New direction

In the late ‘90s, prior to Springfield coming on board, the firm was heavily involved in erosion control, dry and wet utility construction and was a subcontractor for many prime contractors in the Austin and San Antonio municipal arenas. This connection led to an opportunity to become involved in a unique project in Austin involving a retail furniture establishment that needed its sewer line realigned due to a building expansion. The project involved installing two manholes, and a City of Austin ordinance requires all new manholes installed within the city to be coated with a protective lining.

Fuquay performed some due diligence and located a contractor who could perform the lining utilizing SprayWall, a structural spray-applied polyurethane lining from Sprayroq, to meet the city requirement. As he watched the installation of the lining he recognized a great opportunity and began researching how Fuquay could become an installer of this trenchless technology.

Fuquay contacted Sprayroq immediately to learn what was involved.

“They told me they were interested in speaking to me but that there were other candidates seeking the same territory and if I really was serious, I would need to come immediately and meet with them at the Pumper and Cleaner show in Nashville the next day. This was my first real business trip so it was exciting, but I had no idea what I was getting into. ‘What’s a pumper and cleaner anyway?’ I thought. The show was an eye-opener and I hit it off right away with the Sprayroq folks and left with a strong feeling that this was going to be a great fit for us.”

They quickly struck an agreement. Over the next several years, Fuquay’s SprayWall division entrenched itself in the market. However, not until Springfield’s arrival in 2004 did Fuquay see the division explode. Fuquay recalls, “My mother-in-law, Beverly Katzmark, had been diagnosed with lung cancer; my wife, Kaye, and I had to take her to MD Anderson in Houston for treatment and I needed help with the SprayWall division. I approached Springfield to see if he would be interested in leading the division. He readily agreed to take it on. Little did I know what a difference one person could make in the success of a division.”

This series of events would be the start of record-breaking sales and installations by a Sprayroq certified partner.

Following its usual model, Fuquay wasn’t content to just focus on manholes with its Sprayroq license and expanded the product’s use in projects involving storm drainage system rehabilitation and protection, DOT applications, wastewater treatment plant installations and rehabilitation, among others.

Because of the proactive business development approach, Sprayroq has recognized Fuquay Inc. with its coveted President’s Award, “The Roq,” along with its Volume Leader and Project of the Year awards numerous times since Fuquay joined its network. In 2012, Sprayroq recognized Springfield as its Person of the Year, an accolade recognizing those in the industry for their contributions to the betterment of trenchless technology, leadership, work ethic and contractor standards. The well-deserved recognition unfortunately was bittersweet for the entire Fuquay company family as Springfield lost an incredibly brave battle against cancer about a year later. The loss was deep for Fuquay, as he and Springfield had developed a close friendship over their years working together, fishing and enjoying time with each other’s families.

Again, as in years past, the Fuquay organization’s deep faith helped them overcome this great loss and find a way to fill this tremendous gap in the business family.

“Hindsight has given me divine glasses to see that God had already placed the people in our company to carry the load when Springfield got sick,” Fuquay emotionally recalls. The “family” rallied and in the short year and a half since his passing, they have done Springfield proud, working together to grow the business to approximately 200 employees, adding new technologies, territories and continuing active recruitment of new “Fuquay Family” members to tackle upcoming projects.

“Like any family, we have our ups and downs, our joys and sadness, victories and failures, but at the end of the day, we’ve all got a sense of place and belonging and that’s what I believe has led us to where we are because whether it’s your work or where you live, there’s no place like home.”

More Information

Sprayroq, Inc. - 205/957-0020 - www.sprayroq.net


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