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Home | DALLAS / FORT WORTH | Spotlight | Spotlight - Charlie Stewart, President and Tim Underwood CEO; Southwest Construction Services

Spotlight - Charlie Stewart, President and Tim Underwood CEO; Southwest Construction Services

image L-R Charlie Stewart and Tim Underwood

DALLAS/FT WORTH - SCS is celebrating their 25th year of service to the DFW area and there is no stopping them any time soon. Starting back in 1993, with just a sealing business, it has grown to multiple companies within the SCS Group including Southwest Demolition Services, Concrete Preservation and their newest company, Southwest Landscaping Services.

 

 

    It appears their paths were destined to cross when Tim Underwood’s father introduced these two and, with the leadership and support from both their fathers, came the beginning of what is now Southwest Construction Services. Inspired by their fathers’ examples, they have built a company that employs over 500 people who are more like family; they believe that is the type of environment that promotes growth and respect for everyone involved and it shows in their work.
    With Charlie Stewart’s performance drive approach and Tim Underwood’s strategic and analytical methods, this duo is in a class all of their own.
 
Why do you think you connected so well?
 
Tim: Charlie definitely has an entrepreneurial spirit that never gives up and I had the spirit to say, “let’s go for it.” I think that resulted in a supportive friendship, then a partnership to help grow into what we are now 25 years later.
Charlie:
I really enjoyed working for Tim’s father when he hired me at Lofland Steel, who was the largest independently owned rebar fabrication company in the U.S. in 1983. He was a great man and Tim is very much like his father, so it works. Tim and I have gone through everything you can go through as business partners. We have become really good friends and I think our company is solid; its amazing to me.
Your fathers’ were very influential to you both separately and together, it seems. Would you consider them your mentors?
 
Tim: Yes, we both learned a lot from our dads. That helped us succeed both personally as individuals and in business. We try to pass that on to our employees so they can be successful as well.
 
Charlie:  Absolutely! I had zero construction experience prior to Mr. Underwood hiring me. In 10 years, I was in the field working with all of the major players in Dallas and was a part of major projects that changed most of what we see today as the Dallas Skyline. I had really learned the trade through studying and working with all of these general contractors. 
     Our job now is really to mentor our employees, find ways to help them become better people, not just in the construction business, but for their families and life in general.
 
Share with us about the Charlie A. Stewart Memorial Training Center.
 
Charlie: My dad retired when he was 60 years old and found that retirement wasn’t what he wanted to do. My dad was here in the business’ growing stages and he was a very intelligent man in regard to mechanical work. He knew everybody and they called him “Poppy.” He stayed here until he passed away eight  years ago. He was dedicated, and kind and it showed throughout his relationships. I was surprised four years ago when some of our employees here named the training center after him. It is a great memorial to who he was.
Tim: Big Charlie was a great man! It was an easy decision for the management group to dedicate his name for the training center.
 
What lessons have you learned throughout your 25 years in business?
 
Charlie:  I was very fortunate to work for Mr. Underwood Sr.  I learned a ton about the business and I was very fortunate to have been involved with the best contractors and subcontractors in DFW. I was always an entrepreneur at heart, but I had to have a place to learn and I learned it all at the Lofland Company. I was only 32 when I launched the waterproofing division of my company in 1993. Now I’m 57 and training the next guys to take my place. Throughout my career so many lessons had to be learned and I realized that the most important lessons were to be yourself, be honest and do the right thing  – that never takes a day off.
Tim: To Charlie’s point, we know that we have and will make mistakes, but no matter what, we fix them.
Charlie: We repair the mistakes we have made. We’ve grown by that and we tell the truth. We treat our employees and our customers equally. The lesson we have both learned together is that there are no shortcuts in life.
Tim: The plan, when I first started thinking about a career, was very different than what my father had in mind. He wanted me to get a construction degree, but I told him I wanted to get a finance degree and become a banker. When he passed away from cancer at the age of 49, I had finished school and Lofland hired me in sales. So like Charlie, I started my construction experience at Lofland in 1991. Some of my biggest lessons I took away from Lofland, and growing our business was priding ourselves in not burning bridges. We don’t want just a one job customer relationship, but rather a 10-20-year customer relationship. The guys we work with are our friends and that is why doing the right thing is so important to us. It is engrained into our motto here at SCS. As for the people who work here at SCS, we really do consider them family and we pride ourselves on our family here.
 
With 500 employees, how do you stay connected with them?
 
Tim:
We try and have small company events throughout the year for office, field and other team members. They range from cookouts, hunting trips, poker tournaments and golf outings.
Charlie:  We have annual parties with our employees and our favorite is our big annual field Christmas party. We love to buy a ton of prizes and hand them all out. These guys work so hard and they deserve it.

Do you have any of your own family working for the business now?

Tim:
Charlie’s nephew, Chris Owens,  works here and has been here since he was 18.
Charlie: My son Jeremy is now my “friendly” competitor. He worked here for about eight years, learned the business and is now an entrepreneur doing architectural concrete, and is making a name for himself. His company is the same as we built ours, on the same principles. I am so proud of him and my daughter.
Tim: My wife is an interior designer and my kids are attending college right now and enjoying the good life. 
 
What do you like to do with your leisure time?
 
Tim: When I get the opportunity to go on golf or fishing trips with customers and friends. I also love traveling with my family, especially when my kids get some down time from school. I try to spend as much time in those moments as I can because it’s easy to get wrapped up in work.
Charlie:  I like golf and travel as well. For he first few years I didn’t have any vacation time. But after 25 years, I’d better have some time!
 
Tim:  After so many years we found that maintaining balance with our work and families is why we work.
Charlie:  Exactly!
 
Your company’s 25th anniversary is in October. What are your plans to celebrate?
 
Tim: We are very excited to be celebrating this milestone. We plan on having a couple of parties. One will be here at our office and another will be for our customers and friends in the industry at the Star in Frisco – but you have to bring a contract to get in the door! HAHAHAHA! All kidding aside, we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for our families at home, our SCS family, our customers and friends who have supported us along the way.
 
Has the past 25 years gone by fast?
 
Tim: It seems to have gone by fast, but if you look back, there are so many memories. There have been so many good times with great people and some bad, but we are stilling standing strong. I consider myself and SCS truly BLESSED!
Charlie:  I can remember when we started. I cherish every moment from being broke and growing to where we are today. I think it’s a process everybody needs to go through to respect their business and to fight hard to deliver an excellent product.  Those qualities make a great company and we are proud to be here.


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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net