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Long-Time Road-Building Relationships

Mister Goodloe Yancey had been in business for eighteen years in 1932 when Walter B. Stewart founded Stewart Asphalt Products Company. No doubt the two men had already been friends for many years. Stewart had served for the previous six years as a Fulton County commissioner, including several years as Chairman. In 1931 he was been president of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, an organization that Mister Goodloe and Earle Yancey had helped organize in 1915. Stewart expanded his operations into Alabama and Florida to pave defense related projects in anticipation of and then support of WW II. After returning from the war Walter’s sons William C. Stewart and Donald B. Stewart Sr. acquired the company and changed the name to Stewart Bros., Inc. During the 1980s the reins were turned over to Donald’s sons Don and Bill Stewart, and today yet a fourth generation of Stewarts is firmly engaged in the business.

More than eight decades later, Stewart Brothers remains a customer of Yancey Bros. Co. A subsidiary operates four asphalt plants in the metro Atlanta area and the organization relies on Caterpillar equipment to handle base and paving for large commercial projects as well as highways, airports, and subdivisions. Key projects have included airfield work at Hartsfield Jackson International and others airports, original asphalt paving on Georgia 400 from Lenox Road to I-85, asphalt paving to relocate I-285 through the fifth runway tunnel at Hartsfield Jackson International, and parking lot construction at Perimeter and Lenox Square Malls.

Don Stewart, grandson of the founder, says the handoff of the company from generation to generation was not always a smooth, straight line. With the ups and downs of the economy and the industry over the decades, he says, “The successive generations didn’t just get it handed to them. There was no inherited wealth. We all did manual labor, and we all ran equipment.”

Another long-time relationship, between Yancey Bros. Co. and the Shepherd family, continues with Seaboard Construction in southeast Georgia. Seaboard was founded in 1947 by Harold James Freidman, with Alfred Jones serving as a senior partner. In 1980 the Shepherd family purchased Seaboard from the Jones family.

Harold Shepherd was familiar with coastal highway construction, his company having built almost all of I-95 in Georgia. Company president Jeff Kicklighter says the company came full circle, as it widened and paved twenty-six miles of I-95 in recent years. Jeff says economic conditions demand that road builders manage their budgets tighter than ever. Efficient and effective use of machinery is a key. For example, a machine may be needed on two ongoing projects at the same time.

“It all comes down to planning,” he says, “communication and planning. Communicating with all parties to make sure that every day, every week, every month you’re lined up so there’s no down time and you’re not waiting for equipment.

“We also have a stringent maintenance program, with shutdowns the weeks of July 4 and Christmas break, when we pull two track machines every year. Yancey goes through those machines at their shop, so they’re back when we return to work. We want to make sure we have no failures during work time.”

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