Foy Tatum is carrying on a family tradition at Halstead Construction, the commercial construction company his grandfather founded and where he serves as managing member. The bulk of the company’s work is outside of the River Region, giving Tatum a different perspective on Montgomery’s strengths.
When was Halstead started? My grandfather started the company in 1946, and my father bought the horizontal construction side of the company in 1976. My sister and I bought dad out in 1998. We were a vertical [buildings and such] and horizontal [roads and bridges] construction company until my grandfather died, and dad started moving us into real estate development as well as horizontal construction.
What are your principal duties? I am the day-today operations manager, and I really do a little bit of everything, including a lot of sales. I continue feeding the company with work. On the development side, I am the numbers guy.
What does Halstead build? Since the early 1970s, we’ve been in a lot of repeat business. We work with fastgrowth companies all over the 14-state Sunbelt area, and these companies build multiple units a year. For example, we’ve worked with CVS, building many of their stores, for the last 22 years. But that train is actually about to get to the station, so to speak, in our market. We are now changing our focus some. We’re doing a lot for Dollar Tree in the Carolinas; they have just started a freestanding store program. We’re also in the real estate development business, so we try to couple the development with our construction capabilities and build our own products.
Number of employees: We have 15 in the company. Nine are in this office, and others are outside personnel. We have an office in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well.
With your company doing work all over the Southeast, why stay based here? That’s easy. It’s home. I was not born here, but I was raised here, and all my family is here. Some of my kids work in the company. We are probably, at most, a 12-hour drive from the farthest place we need to go for business or a short plane ride, so we don’t find it hard having our central office here at all.
What do you love about what you do? It is rewarding to see something grow, see something build up out of the ground and become a building. I love finishing them and seeing tenants get placed in them. I enjoy knowing that I’m giving my employees a living for them and their families. With our 15 employees, that probably represents approximately 45 people that this business supports. That is important. And it is a family business, so I want to keep it going for that reason. We have a great reputation that I want to keep and enhance. Recently, we went back into Louisiana to do some work after not having worked there in five years, but we were able to very quickly pick up and open accounts with the same folks we’ve worked with in the past thanks to our reputation. That is very gratifying.
What are your interests outside of work? I hunt and fish and have a farm in Bullock County. I also have a farm in Kentucky where I hunt. My wife and I like to travel, especially now that all of our kids are grown. Our greatest joy is our grandchildren; we have eight. I’m also heavily involved with the Boy Scouts and with my church, Woodland United Methodist.
What are your thoughts on the business climate in Montgomery? Very little of our business is actually in Montgomery; even though we built and developed probably 130 CVS stores statewide, the bulk of that was outside of the city. But we’re still based here, and I live here. I like what is going on downtown. I like the fact that we have some amount of the population that wants to be urban; I think that is healthy for any city. I credit our leadership in Montgomery for making all of that happen. And that includes the Chamber. We’re involved because it is so proactive. When you work in as many different markets as we do, you see what a strong chamber does versus a what a weak chamber does, and it’s so clear that we have an amazing chamber here compared to many other cities our size in the Sunbelt.