Family Run and Community Oriented: Smith Midland Corporation

By Kara Thorpe

Above: Smith-Midland’s Chairman of the Board Rodney Smith (center) and his sons (from left to right) Jeremy, Easi-Set Building Products Manager; Matthew, Vice President of Sales and Marketing; Roderick, General Manager, Smith Carolina; and Ashely, CEO and President. Photo by Kara Thorpe

A Local Business with International Outreach

Perhaps without even being aware, you probably have been protected by traffic barriers and sound minimization walls along I-66 built by Fauquier-based manufacturing company Smith-Midland Corporation. You may also have used prefabricated restroom facilities at nearby parks or visited schools or other public buildings constructed in part with walls and other architectural products built by the same company, which has its headquarters along Catlett Road near Midland.

Smith-Midland’s Chairman of the Board Rodney Smith posing in front of their concrete barrier products at their Midland plant. By Kara Thorpe

Chatting with Smith-Midland’s Chairman of the Board Rodney Smith at the company headquarters, I was impressed by the fact that this is a company born of a local farmer’s need to control his cattle that has grown into a major successful enterprise — still family-run, community-focused, and concerned about its employees. Despite only a high school education at former Bealton High School, Rodney has excelled because of his own ingenuity, determination and hard work. When I asked Rodney why he has been so successful, he said simply, “I dream up something and make it happen.”

Smith-Midland and its predecessor, Smith Cattleguard Company, have been making these dreams come true by building and selling prefabricated products for almost 60 years, during which it has earned a national and international reputation for innovation and high quality products. Its history clearly verifies the company motto — “Attention to Detail is the religion of success.”

It all started simply enough when David Smith, a local farmer and father of current owner Rodney Smith, decided he was tired of repeatedly opening and closing gates surrounding cattle pastures to keep his cows from escaping. The solution was installing into the ground at the gate’s opening a simple but cleverly designed frame with round bars on top that cattle hooves could not cross but that could withstand the heavy weight of farm machinery and vehicles. With very little advertising—the older Smith thought advertising was like bragging—Mr. Smith sold 12 cattle guards to local farmers in 1960, and 60 the following year.

As young Rodney Smith became more involved in Smith Cattleguard, his ingenuity and talent for marketing served as a catalyst for the company’s expansion. In 1966 the company designed and started marketing cattle feed droughts and in 1968 the company produced its first brochure, designed by Rodney himself. Two years later the company’s expansion prompted a move to its current 20-acre location on Catlett Road, and in 1971 Rodney took over leadership of the company. One of his first major contracts he negotiated after becoming chairman of the board involved creating road barriers for Washington, D.C.’s new Whitehurst Freeway, then under construction.

The company proudly displays a wall chronology of its successes and expansion over the years in the large company break room at its Midland headquarters:
1975 Development of a precast home
1977 Commonwealth of Virginia accepted Smith’s newly designed traffic safety barriers
1979 Expanded by opening new office in Reidsville, North Carolina
1980 Rodney Smith named small business person of the year in Virginia
1982 Construction of Liberty Bank using pre-cast walls
1985 Transformed from Smith Cattleguard to Smith-Midland Corp.
1993 Provided JJ hook barriers for Presidential inauguration in D. C.
1993 ACI award for excellence for Smith-Midland’s role in construction of Reston Town Center
2000 Provided Slenderwall panels for 42nd Street renovation in Manhattan
2002 Blue Ridge restrooms for parks
2003 Provided retaining walls for Pentagon repairs/construction
2010 Received award for I-66 roadway panels.

When this chronology is Ωupdated, it will need to include establishing a new office in Columbia, S.C. and licensing of Smith-Midland products in a number of foreign countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Canada, and Chile. Rodney says he has traveled to some 60 foreign countries for business or pleasure, or both.

Rodney inspecting Beach Prisms, a Smith-Midland product developed as a cost-effective solution for shoreline erosion prevention.

Smith-Midland has also been a major contributor to the community, and Mr. Smith sits on the Board of Visitors for Bridgewater College. The list of local community organizations supported by the company includes Midland Christian Academy, Wakefield Country Day School, Fauquier Community Theatre, Boys and Girls Club of Fauquier, the Fauquier County Fair, Habitat for Humanity, and Fauquier County Public Schools. It also currently employs some 150 workers living in the area.

Smith-Midland became a publicly traded company in 1995 and currently is valued at almost $60 million. The family is still very involved with the company — in addition to Rodney as Chairman of the Board the team also includes his four sons: Ashely as CEO and President, Matthew as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Jeremy as Easi-Set Building Products Manager, and Roderick as General Manager Smith Carolina (the North Carolina office). For more information on the company, its products, and job opportunities, you may access its comprehensive website, www.Smith-Midland.com.

Avatar
About Gary Carroll 2 Articles
Gary Carroll is a Fauquier native and, except for seven years living abroad, has lived here throughout his life. He has a B.A and M.A. from University of Virginia where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He served in the U.S. Government for 25 years where he worked as an analyst, supervisor of analysts, and an instructor for analysts. After retiring, he has continued to work as an instructor for the military and several government agencies where he teaches a variety of communication skills including analytic writing, briefing and public speaking, and supervisor-employee communication. He is married and has two daughters.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.