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Spotlight - Rhonda Usher, Primitive Stone LLC

image Rhonda Usher Managing Director Primitive Stone LLC Arlington, TX

DALLAS/FT WORTH - When Rhonda Usher hears the rumble of an excavator or steps out onto the soft sand of the pit, she feels like she’s home. In many ways, she is – it’s where she spent much of her childhood. It’s also a way to feel close with her dad, who raised her in the business and helped to set her path in stone.





How were you introduced to construction?
    My father, Buddy Seay, was a single dad and he had no choice but to take me to work. He would always be in these huge holes, in the sandpit, digging. Of course, as a little girl, I wanted to ride on the loader with my father.
    Those are some of my best memories. You know, your father is the person that you look up to and admire, and he was such a hard worker. He was a self-taught person. He worked hard and read books and did everything that he could to better his life. He was an entrepreneur at heart. He managed to start out with being a truck driver and ended up with his own sandpits and excavation business in the ‘60s, running about 100 trucks and delivering all over.
    We started off being in the sandpit and excavating for other companies, and we did our own excavation. We were there until my father had a heart attack in the mid-‘80s, and then we moved to the office and started doing the office work. I worked in the office up until I married in 1994 and started having children.

What path did your career take then?
    I was a stay-at-home mom, but I had many entrepreneurial ventures. My dad had a baby furniture shop; because my father had so many daughters, he started a baby furniture shop called Baby-O. He had to buy so many cribs and baby items for his girls that he decided he would start selling those things. My venture started from there as a buyer and a seller. I also opened my own clothing apparel store. We moved to Cleburne, and I got into visual merchandising, which really helped me establish myself as a business owner.
    As an extension of his sand and gravel business, my father wanted to specialize in building stone and had started selling it, but he fell ill, so I decided to go back to work with him full-time in 2013. That’s when I started working on his websites and the more creative aspect of the businesses.

Was your father happy to have you back in the family business fold?

    He was, but although we didn’t know it, he had cancer. We closed the family business that we had for over 50 years so that he and I could take care of his health.
    The loss of the business was huge because our family was built around the business. We taught our children to respect it. My dad was all about the business, and it really was our life.
    He never quit, though; he never gave up. Even though he was sick in bed, he would still be planning the next stage of his business and how to get back up on his feet. We had a salesman who was still selling stone for us, and I was still working on the website. Thinking about what we would call the new stone business when my dad got better, I came up with the name Primitive Stone. I showed my father the name and said, “Dad, this needs to be the name of the new stone company.” Unfortunately, he passed away four years ago. It was very hard.

When did you decide to establish Primitive Stone LLC?
    Once my father passed away, it was only a few months before I decided that starting the business is what I needed to do, and it was because I had found a notebook that my father had been writing on. He loved to write everything down; he always had a yellow notepad and pen next to him. He had left a bunch of notes on his yellow pads, and I found one of them after he passed. It said that he was going to be with me all the way and to work with the best.
    That was my confirmation that my dad was there for me, that he was going to help me and guide me through whatever my next step was to be, which turned out to be starting my own business. It’s now been running four years. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to see me start it, but I hope he’s looking at me from above.

What was the first year of business ownership like for you?
    The first year was really exhilarating because once I made the decision to do it, I ran with it. It was no holds barred; what I didn’t know, I didn’t care about. I just went out there. There has definitely been a learning curve, though.

What lessons have you learned?
    I’ve learned I’m not my father. I could never fill his shoes, but I’ve learned that what I have to bring to the table is different than what he had to share with the world. He trusted me to be more creative and trusted my abilities. That’s what he admired me for. Those are the things I have to try to work on and not try to be him. I need to follow my own path and not someone else’s.

What do you enjoy about your work?
    I love the freedom to be an entrepreneur. To be an entrepreneur is the hardest role in my love for small business, but that keeps me going to keep learning. It’s important to be able to share what I know with my children and keep the spirit of the business and my father alive.
What do you hope the future holds?
    I actually have big dreams of starting my own property to dig. I want to provide some of the materials that we are lacking in the industry. I want to continue to deliver superior products in a timely manner and also connect and grow my network of workers, trucks, quarries, suppliers. Hopefully, people will connect with me on social media and join me on this journey.
    Supplier Primitive Stone LLC is a whole-sale rock supply company in Arlington. – mjm

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Author Info

Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net