Seventy years after Hix Smith Sr. invested in a small batch plant to complement his dirt business, Smith Ready Mix in Nashville, Ark., is still in the family. Now under the control of Matt Smith, Hix’s grandson, the family has sold the dirt side to completely focus on concrete production.
“My grandfather bought the place and my daddy built it up. When he was a kid my daddy immediately began working in the batch plant so he wouldn’t have to work on the dirt side with my grandfather; he was rather hard on him. Concrete is what my daddy learned to love, and it’s why we focus on it today,” Smith says.
That one small batch plant has expanded to now include eight plants and 60 employees in seven cities across southwestern Arkansas. Smith himself grew up working in the batch plant as his father has done, and recently took full ownership of the company with his sister, Shana.
“We really value the family part of our business. We tell our customers it’s what sets us apart and the personal attention they will get because of that. If you have a project you will see myself or my sister onsite,” Smith said.
Under his tenure Smith pushed for a number of technological upgrades, including a centralized dispatch system and truck tracking GPS. In the last decade the company has added six new trucks and is in the process of buying a mobile plant. With new technological upgrades and a stable economy, Smith Ready Mix has seen record years for sales.
But steady income is only a recent luxury, as Arkansas was hit particularly hard by the 2008 recession, slicing into construction and transportation budgets. The recession, coupled with EPA’s increased engine restrictions on mixer trucks left Smith “fighting” to remain afloat.
"Staying in business is an accomplishment in and of itself. We were nearly bought out by a major corporate ready-mix producer, but it fell through, thank goodness. None of us wanted to sell out, but at the time the future looked pretty dim. We thank the lord that it fell through. There were some hard times but we all worked hard to cut back,” Smith said.
While the days of cutbacks are in the past, Smith is content with the size of his company and has no concrete plans to expand. His only goal is to fulfill his company motto and provide the “right mix right on time.”