Lloyd Jones paved the road for the company in the 1970s, when he began assembling hardwood construction mats for use in his personal logging operation. In 1979, by recognizing the necessity for the mats in the timber industry, he founded Dixie Mat and Hardwood. He placed son Brett in charge of the new company.
Flash forward to 2009 and now Brett’s son, Jonathan, is involved in the operations of the company, the nation’s largest single-site producer of hardwood construction mats. In addition, Brett’s wife, Lisa, handles office duties for the operation.
According to Brett, Dixie Mat and Hardwood has experienced nearly 100 percent annual sales growth over the past four years, a distinction that earned the Adams County company a number two ranking in the Journal’s 2007 Fast 40 listings.
“The goal of Dixie Mat was to be, and continues to be, the largest producer and marketer of top-quality hardwood mats while maintaining the highest level of customer service,” he said. “The premise of our vision is simple – to be the number one provider of commercial hardwood construction mats that are used for cranes, draglines, excavators and barge and bridge decking.”
Dixie Mat has grown to employ more than 100 full-time workers and produces more than 600 mats per day, far outdistancing its nearest competitor. The mats are sold all over the country and shipped by truck or rail freight.
The core use of construction mats is to protect environment-sensitive wetlands.
“The U.S. has seen record growth in new right-of-way development in the last several years, primarily because of more pipelines being needed to transmit natural gas to new markets,” he said. “This has enabled Dixie Mat to expand production and distribution of our products.”
With the expansion of the oil and gas industries, Dixie Mat has implemented a new marketing plan of selling its products directly to the end user. Historically, hardwood mats were sold to brokers who then re-sold them to the pipeline contractors.
The greatest challenge the company has faced in the past year?
“Obviously, it’s been coping with the economic downturn,” he said. “While demand has remained steady, we’ve had to make ourselves more unique and different to avoid the threat of increased competition. Dixie has done this by more powerful marketing, and offering additional services that make us more of a turn-key operation.”
Jones says the biggest change in company for the last decade has been keeping up with the ever-changing marketing aspects and incorporating them into his business.
“In the past 10 years, we have gone from using brokers to having outside salesmen to make the sales directly, building long-lasting relationships with our customers,” he said. “The biggest change that I anticipate in the next ten years will depend on what the needs of the market are. In other words, we will adapt to what our customers’ needs are.”
The oil and gas industries make up the bulk of Dixie Mat’s customer base. But Jones says the company won’t rely on a single market in the future.
‘With the renewable energy market booming right now, we’re preparing to change our marketing strategies to cater to the wind power industry,” he said. “We also are making a push into the northern Canada market. With more locations and strong marketing tactics, Dixie is poised to gain even more market share.”
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