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New Roy Anderson CEO knows he must gain employees’ trust

J Mark Smith

By NASH NUNNERY

J. Mark Smith is fully aware that he’s not just taking over some corporate construction conglomerate. After all, Mississippi-made Roy Anderson Corp is highly regarded in the industry for its devoted client base and for delivering quality construction “on time and on budget.”

But Smith, who recently was named president and CEO of one of the state’s most iconic construction brands, believes the heart of Roy Anderson Corp is its employees.

“The loyalty of our employees is seldom seen in business, and that comes from their trust in Roy (Anderson III, former CEO),” he said. “That loyalty is manifested in their performance and client services. To gain their trust will take time, but I’ll work hard to gain their confidence.

“There are challenges stepping in behind a leader of Roy Anderson III’s stature. And there are no shortcuts.”

Launched 63 years ago by Roy Anderson Jr. with one pickup, two employees and a mere $3,000, Gulfport-based Roy Anderson Corp has grown from one man’s dream into one of the South’s most successful construction firms. Roy Anderson III took over leadership duties from his father in 1992 and later added Harrell Contracting Group and Brice Building Company to the company’s portfolio.

In 2011, Roy Anderson III sold the company for $64 million to Tutor Perini, one of the nation’s largest general contractors, but continued in his CEO role until Smith assumed the reins last December.

In his first few weeks on the job, Smith says he’s enjoyed getting acquainted with his new team.

“I’ve learned the Roy Anderson culture is client-focused with a passion for exceptional service and integrity,” he said. “It’s ingrained in everything we do.”

Prior to joining RAC, Smith served as a senior vice president at multi-national engineering company AECOM, where he established the firm’s industrial manufacturing business unit.

Making the transition to life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast will not be difficult, he says.

Having grown up in Mississippi, Smith recalls fondly the many beach vacations he enjoyed on the Coast as a teenager. And, he’s quite familiar with the professional reputations of both Roy Anderson Corp and parent company Tutor Perini.

“I had friends working with Roy Anderson and TPC in California, so it was easy for me to get an employee’s perspective of the companies,” Smith said. “All the feedback I’ve gotten from employees and clients has been positive.

“It’s a pleasure to see so many long-tenured team members at Roy Anderson.”

An admitted consensus builder, Smith’s leadership style draws from collaboration between all parties involved in the process.

“There are always good ideas from many sources that should be considered,” he said.

“Each year, projects become more technically demanding, with greater budget and schedule pressures. The path to success involves everyone.”

With over three decades in the construction industry, the affable Smith has seen significant changes in the business but none more important than worker/workplace safety.

“Our jobsites are much safer now compared to 30 years ago,” he said. “After safety, I feel that Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Visual Design and Construction (VDC) are the future if we are to continually improve productivity.”

Projects, big projects, are the name of the game in the construction industry. In addition to expanding the World War II Museum and constructing The Children’s Museum in New Orleans,  Roy Anderson Corp has several active gaming projects, and are performing hurricane recovery efforts in multiple states.

In December, the company was awarded the bid to build the Mississippi Aquarium, a $52 million project set to be constructed on nearly six acres of beachfront property in Gulfport.

“We have a great mix of projects and the Aquarium will jumpstart other adjacent developments in the area,” Smith said. “It should be completed in 2019.”

Does he expect to make wholesale changes at Roy Anderson Corp? Not necessarily.

“I don’t expect to ‘change the recipe’ but I do want us to diversify into new markets to minimize the impacts of our cyclical markets,” Smith said.

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