Founded in 1932 in Elizabethton, Tenn., Summers-Taylor has experienced a great deal of evolution since its earliest days. Originally a maintenance and construction company working with local textile mills, the company moved into asphalt paving and Department of Transportation work primarily as a grading and paving company with both asphalt and concrete plants. About 10 years ago, Summers-Taylor underwent substantial expansion into bridge and pipe work. 

Today, Summers-Taylor has roughly 350 employees and operates in eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and southwest Virginia. It operates four asphalt plants and six concrete plants. 

“Our asphalt paving is still a core competency and we are proud of the many paving awards our guys win year in and year out,” President Grant Summers says. “However, we are also known as a turnkey site work and road project firm, utilizing our various capabilities to control as many facets of a job as possible. Our ready-mix division is first-class in our area, and we take pride in providing exceptional products and service to our many customers.”

Established Presence

Working with the Tennessee Department of Transportation is a large part of the company’s operations. It works on everything from state resurfacing and standalone bridge and pipe jobs to multiphase highway reconstruction and expansion projects. The company has developed strong working relationships in this arena and enjoys working on state projects. 

As for private clients, they range from residential and commercial developers to industrial and governmental plant clients. Summers-Taylor has shown its ability to work in any environment while adhering to every owner’s unique rules and regulations. 

“We feel that the best way for us to establish and grow reach is to cultivate a reputation for quality and professionalism,” Summers says. “We like to keep an open mind when evaluating work and will often work in difficult or unconventional environments. Typically, the more complicated or difficult a job is, the better we do.” 

Tools of the Trade

Summers-Taylor has made a number of investments into technology and equipment. In cost tracking, the company has integrated field reporting, estimating and accounting software systems so it can better track job cost. “All of our field supervisors carry iPads, and they are able to turn in time and productions electronically, which drastically reduces redundant input and speeds up job costing,” Summers says.

As for GPS, the company now has GPS units on all of its heavy equipment, rolling stock and pickup trucks. This allows Summers-Taylor to maximize idling efficiency, analyze and optimize haul routes, and dispatch equipment in the most effective way. 

“Equipment time is directly imported from the pieces of equipment into time sheets, so accuracy of job costing is improved as well,” Summers says. “Equipment hour tracking is also much more reliable, which in turn improves our maintenance cycles and reduces equipment cost.” 

GPS grade control and modeling have also been impactful. Many of its dozers, graders and excavators are now equipped with GPS. This allows for much more efficient grading operations, as well as reduced cost in surveying. “We utilized GPS grade control while milling a large airport runway job last year, and it was absolutely crucial to our success,” Summers says.

Lastly, the company has made substantial investments in asphalt and concrete plants. “We are able to produce more at each plant, supplying both our own crews as well as other customers,” Summers says. 

Future Focus

Key trends impacting the future for Summers-Taylor include safety and quality control. Summers says that a focus on safety is the No. 1 priority because it keeps employees safe and helps the company build an exemplary safety record so it can work in some environments. “Owners today want to know you will be safe on their jobsite, and we pride ourselves on putting safety at a high priority,” he says.

As for quality control, Summers says that winning projects is more competitive and rework is devastating to job costing. In addition, specifications on asphalt and concrete materials are getting tougher. “As such, we have invested in an extremely well-trained quality control department,” he says. “Our quality control techs are first class in mix design and materials testing, allowing us to be confident in supplying any job, no matter the specifications.”

Finally, another key to the company’s future is the quality of its people. Summers-Taylor believes in making investments into human capital, promoting and retaining its people to build the best-qualified team it can. Retention and recruitment will continue to be challenges, but the company will continue to emphasize the ongoing development of a staff of people who want to work in the construction industry and are technologically savvy.

“Our priorities going forward continue to center around developing and retaining our great team,” Summers says. “That way, we will be successful for years to come.” 

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