all started about 1937.
and Jay Barringer came home from working the Public Works projects
that were designed to pull the country out of depression.
Jay had learned
to operate the first bulldozer he ever saw, and Alton
had operated several pieces of heavy equipment.
They told stories about life in the
bunk house sleeping with a pistol under their pillow, but they also
told about some of the projects they had worked on.
They even had pictures to show.
Even then, the satisfaction of a job
well done, that would stand as a monument to the hard work and
dedication that construction men thrive on, had them hooked.
Never again would a bumper corn crop
have the same meaning.
The nation was
coming out of depression.
People actually had real jobs and some
Even the farmers became optimistic
about the future and began to build new houses and barns and clean
up land for pastures and crops.
The time was right.
and Jay managed to scrape up enough money, and maybe even a little
credit, and bought a small, Alice Chalmers bulldozer.
They began doing custom grading, mostly
for local farmers, clearing land and building ponds.
They hauled the dozer on a single axle
flat bed dump.
Getting loaded for a move was sometimes
a chore, and a big log or a hillside was often used and always
Getting unloaded was a different
matter, but probably just as scary.
Things looked rosy for a while, but construction people know that
good times end much faster than bad times.
was struck down at 33 years of age by a heart attack on January 27, 1941.
Jay needed some help.
Luther was 25,
had a good job and a wife named Rachel that was 4 months pregnant
with a child who would be named Bradford.
In spite of all the uncertainty
associated with construction and even in the dead of winter, Luther
became Jay’s new partner and business continued to get better.
Luther used to tell about clearing land
for $3.00/hour and that included everything – equipment, fuel, take
home pay, and the government’s share.
Trouble came knocking again.
Jay and the local crowd were loafing
out front of the grocery store on the square in Richfield when a Coble milk truck hit a car
that ran the stop sign and then plowed into the grocery store.
Several of the men were hurt seriously.
Jay’s legs were crushed, broken like
the limbs in a brush pile.
The doctors said he would never walk
again, but he never believed in the word “never”.
Luther hired some help while Jay spent
about six months in the hospital and another year and a half
learning to walk all over again.
Jay’s wife or one of the neighbors
would help Jay get from his hospital bed to a gurney and roll him to
the Chinaberry tree in the back yard where he would pull up to the
limbs and virtually drag his useless legs around that tree demanding
that they pitch in and do their part.
The tree was very cooperative and the
limbs grew just right, almost like an engineered playground monkey
often rode on the gurney with Jay or played in the yard while Jay
worked on getting his legs back.
Some lessons are learned early in life,
even before you realize it.
I think Jay taught us a lot under that
Ten years later, Jay was walking
without crutches or cane and Bradford
was the one swinging from limb to limb, but this time it was just
The nation had gone to war during Jay’s ordeal.
Luther was in danger of being drafted
even with two children, a business to run, and almost 30 years old.
When Luther went for his physical he
found that he had been deferred.
On the way home,
he bought Bradford and Jimmy a whole stalk of bananas in
celebration, not so much that he would not have to serve in the
military, but that he could hold together what
Jay, and now Luther had worked so hard for.
spent a lot of time with Jay during his healing.
When he became able to drive, they
would go to the store to hang out.
Jay would buy
Bradford a popsicle and
would tell stories about dealing in the Black Market and blowing up
enemy ships and other wild stories.
A good imagination is always useful in
construction so that you can visualize what the outcome of your
efforts will be.
Four years old is about the right age
to begin preparation for the future – even if you don’t realize it
at that time.
The war finally
ended, Jay returned to work and a lot of boys home from service were
looking for jobs.
Jay and Luther actually became a
company – Barringer Brothers – and started bidding on improvements
to local country roads under the Farm to Market Roads Program.
Labor was plentiful and even some of it
was skilled having served in the SeaBee’s and Corps of Engineers.
Brothers did the upgrade on Eastway Drive
from a muddy pig path of a country road to a paved artery feeding
growing city needs.
was old enough to go to work with Luther occasionally and sometimes
catch a nap on the dozer seat or the cab of the pickup.
He learned to listen carefully as the
plan for the day was discussed.
Highway System replaced the Farm to Market Roads Program, and
funding for the work Barringer Brothers had gotten pretty good at
It was decision making time.
About 1954, Luther and Jay decided they
didn’t want to get big enough to try to compete with the larger and
much more sophisticated companies that were being put together to do
the big projects.
They sold most of the equipment and
returned to custom grading.
Most of the really good operators had
been lost to the Korean War, and when they came home they took other
jobs or went into businesses of their own.
About the only equipment left was a
D-7, a small Cat grader, a pull pan which had been fabricated from a
LeTourneau scraper (Tournapull) and an old pull grader that Bradford
had worn out right there on the yard without it ever moving an inch.
The D-7 had been bought Army surplus,
was delivered in a big olive drab box, and was coated with cosmoline.
The box served as a parts shed for many
This time there
simply wasn’t enough custom grading to support two families, so
Luther took a job selling Mutual of Omaha and then as foreman at
Young Stone Company.
Jay stayed with the dozer, and Luther
helped when he could.
In 1958, a local
highway contractor, Ray D. Lowder, approached Jay and Luther about
starting up a utility division within his company.
They met Ray and talked it over.
The decision was made to organize a new
company with Ray owning half and Jay and Luther owning half.
Rand Construction Company, Inc. was the
outcome of that meeting.
In 1964 Ray Lowder died suddenly.
Jay and Luther
purchased Lowder’s portion of the business and made
their new Vice President.
was finishing college, had his military obligation behind him, was
married, and had a son on the way.
Having a job to go directly to was a
Company, Inc. was one of the charter members of NCUCA, and B.R.S.,
Inc. continued that membership.
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, Rand
weathered the storms of the Bid Rigging Scandals, labor shortages,
fuel prices, the birth of OSHA, the retirement and death of Jay, and
the semi-retirement of Luther, but the failure of several
sub-contractors was almost too much to weather.
Having temporarily lost its bonding
ability, lines of credit, and facing legal battles made it
impossible to bid work as a prime.
Thanks go to the contractors who
offered work on a sub-contract basis during those times.
Most contractors are really good
B.R.S., Inc. came into being in 1986 with all intentions of it being
a temporary fix until Rand Construction had its problems resolved.
During about a 3
year period, Bradford and the team he had assembled were keeping the
B.R.S., Inc. crews busy while defending and defeating the charges
During that time
also Bradford acquired full ownership of
With the fight
won and two companies to consider,
decided to merge the two in order to simplify bookkeeping.
The question was which company name
would be used.
B.R.S., Inc. had
established itself and had acquired a favorable reputation so the
assets were folded into B.R.S., Inc.
– The letters
Bradford, Ruby, and Sons.
There’s an old joke about what’s left
if Ruby drops out.
We wanted a name that was short,
simple, and had some meaning, something that people could relate it
We were a little concerned about
possible confusion with R.D.R., Inc., another outgrowth of the Ray
Reese, the last R, assured us he had no
objection so B.R.S., Inc. was chartered.
B.R.S., Inc. has always strived to do
top quality work in an unwritten partnering atmosphere with our
We have never failed to complete any
work we have undertaken, even some tough bores.
We’ve grown over
the years from one small crew who agreed to transfer from
to B.R.S. to about 80 employees in three divisions – Pipe, Tunnels
and Bores, and Water and Sewer Service installations.
As of this date
we still employ 8 of the
employees who made the switch 19 years ago.
Luther retired from construction completely
was merged into B.R.S., Inc. and enjoyed several years of farming,
traveling, and community work before passing away in 1997.
Many of our
employees are long term and several are close to retirement,
is one of them.
One of the points we’ve always stressed
is to teach someone to do your job so you can move up.
The next generation has already moved
into the management positions and they’re producing a generation to
Construction people build more than
B.R.S., Inc. has
always had the attitude that a tough, challenging job was an
opportunity to learn and we’ve taken on some tough jobs over the
We did a bore that required a pit just
over 40’ deep.
We did a combination bore/ram under
and followed up with several other such crossings under water over
We do our own drilling and blasting and
shot over 66,000 lbs of explosives last year.
For many years, we would blast graves
for the local undertaker when the digging got too tough.
911 and our insurance carrier put a
stop to that.
One of our most
challenging jobs was a raw water distribution system at the Franklin
Water Treatment plant in
The pipe size ranged up to 120”
weighing 63,000 lbs per 16’ joint.
Some of the 84” pipe was about 30’ deep
and installed in steel sheeting driven 55’ deep.
We drove the sheeting with our own
The project had numerous tie-ins to
PCPP and all of them went well.
We offer our clients the best value
available and will never sacrifice safety or quality to meet
unrealistic low pricing.
Safe, Productive, Dependable.
unofficial motto, which is used on much of our advertising, is: Lay
With The Best.
We strive to achieve and maintain a reputation
as the safest, most respected utility construction company in the
Piedmont area of
One of our most prized possessions is a
Pinnacle Award from the Carolinas AGC as the best subcontractor of
We also have numerous other NCUCA, AGC,
and LICA awards.
A successful business depends on a lot of factors and all of them
are people related.
B.R.S., Inc. employs some of the most
dedicated, knowledgeable, efficient, construction people to be found
We want to take this opportunity to
thank all the employees, contractors, engineers, associations, and
everyone who has played a role in the success of B.R.S., Inc. and
the North Carolina Utility Contractors’ Association.
Written By: Bradford Barringer