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Spotlight - Steve and Shelba Buyers, Buyers Barricades

image Buyers Barricades’ Steve Buyers started his business with a 1965 Chevy pickup and a dog.

DALLAS/FT WORTH - After experiencing poor customer service from a barricade company, Steve Buyers started Buyers Barricades with a 1965 Chevy pickup, a 16ft. trailer and a dog. Today, his company has over 400 trucks and a few dogs as well, but one of the best additions to the company has been his wife, Shelba Buyers. Together, they make sure their customers receive the kind of customer service Steve deserved all those years ago.

 

How were you introduced to this industry?
    Steve: I was the coordinator for a Walker Construction, a very large general contractor and we had barricades leased from a local company out by DFW Airport. The inspector called me and told me that the barricades weren’t up to snuff and need to be serviced. I called the company we had them leased from and they said they would put me on the docket and get to me. About three days went by and
that same inspector told me that I still had to get that stuff straightened up. I called a second time and they assured me I was on the roll and they would get to me as quick as they could. Another four days roll by, and the inspector is pretty upset. He called me and told me I had 24 hours to fix it or he would shut the job down. I called the company, and I was a little upset, and the woman who answered the phone said, “I don’t have to put up with this,” and she hung up on me. I grabbed the Yellow Pages and I looked up “barricades” and under it there was only one company, and that was the one that I had rented the barricades from. So I decided it was about time they needed competition. I registered the name and within 24 hours, I was in the barricade business.
    Back then, I had a 1965 Chevy pickup, a 16ft. trailer and a dog. I still have the truck and the trailer, but I have a new dog!
    Shelba: We got together in 2001 and I started working there out in the yard and that’s when we built barricades. I worked my way from doing that to actually setting jobs up and starting to see customers. Then, I had to go into the office and start learning our books.

What was it like those first few years of running the business?
    Steve: It was tough, and everything was built out of wood so that was a challenge; now, everything is made out of plastic. The first few years of the company, I had a nail gun but I didn’t have a compressor, so I hand-drived every nail. Just to build a single Type 1 it took 114 nails. I was driving a lot of nails. When I finally got enough money to where I could buy an air compressor, I was tickled to death because I could finally use my nail gun. Then I realized I didn’t have enough money to buy the nails!

How did the business evolve?

    Steve: We started out in the yard of James Brown who owns Brown Excavators in south Fort Worth. He had two little 20ft. by 8ft. shacks. One was my office and one was my warehouse, and it’s what I worked out of my first three to four years. I finally got enough money to where I could lease a warehouse and worked out of it for 12 years. Finally, I got enough money to where I could buy a building. Once we outgrew that, we built the facility that we’re in now in Richland Hills. We now have well over 200 employees.
    Shelba: And we’ll be growing some more.
    Steve: I hope before my demise that our company is in every state in the Union.

How did your services evolve?
    Shelba: Our son, Blake, thought he was going to be a History teacher and he already had the job, but he wanted to come and work with us and he was out there working in the yard for a while, so Steve said he needed to come in [to the office side]. Blake put us in a different mode, especially with the drawings.
    Steve: That’s one of the things Blake brought to the table was his computer skills. My computer skills are very limited; I’m a caveman when it comes to computers. Blake really helped us get into the 21st century with his ability on the computer and his knowledge of books.

What have you learned over the years?
    Steve: If you get up early and work hard, you get real lucky.
    Shelba: What I’ve learned is that I go out on the job sites more, so I’m not here with all of the people and we take pictures and send it to our customers now. I’m more involved with that now rather than being in the office.

You mentioned that you still have the original truck, Steve. Does it still run?
    Steve: Oh yeah. We take it out to see customers and it has been in several parades and car shows. I delivered the first barricades in that truck, and now I have around 400 trucks.   

Shelba, it is well-known that you are an animal lover. What animals are currently in your menagerie?
    Shelba: We have a border collie, Foxy, who is my baby. We have Brandy, who is a rescue dog I picked up that had Parvo and no food and water; she’s awesome and should have been a service dog. She can open any door; she’s a genie! We also have a new dog …
    Steve: She’s three-quarters Timber Wolf and part Husky.
    Shelba: We used to have rabbits, and a skunk, who had his own room. She passed away from old age. I used to bring it to the office and let it run around here. Customers would come in and say, “Is that a skunk?” We were driving home a month ago after a big rain, and there was a ravine and a baby skunk coming up. I told Steve to stop the car so I could pick it up. I thought he would stop because there was a red light but he just went on! He said three skunks in a lifetime was enough!

What do you like to do in your free time?

    Steve: We like to travel. We have a lot of friends who like to travel, too. We have plans next month to South Africa for a couple of weeks. Then we have plans to go down to the Dominican Republic for a week. Next year, we have a trip scheduled for an Alaskan cruise. We like to go to Vegas once a year; we love the shows out there, and then we spend at least one night downtown Vegas just walking through the streets.

Share about your family.
    Steve: Through Blake, we have two grandkids. It’s great to be a grandparent! We can spoil them rotten and send them back home.
    Shelba: When I have my grandbaby – because at her house, it’s study, study, study – when she gets to my house, we have things like tortilla fights or get  in ketchup and mayonnaise and mustard fights.  Kids can get into that [study] mode but it’s okay to play and get dirty.
    Steve: They also love to come over and get into the pool.

Who has mentored you during this journey?
    Steve: I would say my dad, who I lost in 2002. From him, I got my work ethic. He was a very staunch person and a man of his word. If he told you something, you could put it in stone. Dad always taught me that if you can’t trust a man’s word, you can’t trust him for anything.
    Shelba: I’ve looked up to Steve. I’ve learned almost everything from him.
    Steve: From Shelba, I’ve learned patience!

Do you think you’ll retire from this?

    Shelba: Oh, no, we’re not going to retire!
    Buyers Barricades, which offers traffic control and equipment, has locations in Richland Hills, Spring and San Antonio. –mjm


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Tracy Peters tracy@constructionnews.net