4 years ago

One of America’s largest sign-making companies is employee owned; It’s also based in Alabama

Vulcan, Inc. Facility in Foley
FOLEY, Ala. — Alabama has received a lot of attention the past few years for the incredible growth of its manufacturing sector; and rightfully so. The state has attracted car companies, defense contractors, and major airplane manufacturing plants all in the past decade.

But there are many companies that have been in the Yellowhammer State long before luxury automakers and state-of-the-art defense contractors came along. One of those companies is Vulcan, Inc.

Vulcan first started in 1966 out of Birmingham as Vulcan Signs and Stampings, with only two facilities purchased from another materials company in the city. Two years later, the company moved one facility out of Birmingham to Foley. By 1975, Vulcan moved all of its operations to the South Alabama town where it continues to operate today.

Over the past 40 years, the company has grown from two to five individual units. Two are specifically involved with the highway industry making the signs you’ve surely seen when driving around the country. Some make markers for utilities like the famous “Think before you dig” signs. When it comes to utility signage, Vulcan is the largest supplier in the United States.
Vulcan utility sign
However, the largest division is aluminum rolling mill which is used internally for parts and also to produce aluminum for sale to companies around the world.

Vulcan is very proud of their facilities. However, CEO Tommy Lee joked that tours of them are rare during the hot Alabama summers. But unlike most of their competitors, Lee pointed out that some of Vulcan’s facilities are air-conditioned, which he noted was rare.
Sheet metal vulcan
Perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the company is that it is employee owned. Vulcan has an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) that has been in effect since 1975. Lee feels the program has “been a very very good model for us.”

All employees are owners in the company and stock is given to the employees each year at no cost to them. “It’s a model that’s worked for us extremely well,” Lee said in an interview with Yellowhammer. “It shows in the quality of product that they produce and how hard they work.”

Vulcan operates on a six year vesting schedule but employees can cash out at any time. There’s only one caveat: employees need to leave Vulcan in order to get their stock dividend.

“It’s good and bad [regarding employees leaving]. We have a very loyal, very mature workforce and the ESOP is one of the reasons for that,” Lee told Yellowhammer. “At the same time we have had a lot of opportunities to help a lot of people improve their lives. The only bad thing is that we lose employees, but we’re proud of where they end up after their time here.”

Vulcan strongly believes that only employees should be the owners of the company and has no outside investors. “They are working for themselves and for each other,” Lee said.

Tommy Lee has been President and CEO for the past three years and his brother, Robert “Bubba” Lee, held both posts for the 27 years prior. Their father was one of the first five founders and eventually became president, CEO, and chairman of the board. Bubba Lee currently chairs the board.

“That might lead someone to believe ‘well the Lee family owns this company.’ That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Tommy Lee said. He pointed out that no single employee, including company management, owns more than 5 percent of the stock and the ESOP owns 100 percent of Vulcan, Inc.

On top of his duties at Vulcan, Lee is a key player in the Business Council of Alabama (BCA) where his company has played an active role since its inception. Lee is the first vice-chairman of the BCA and chairman of the progress PAC, the political arm of the group.

“Businesses are stronger when they band together and speak with one voice,” he stated in an interview. Lee believes that even non-members of the BCA benefit from its activities because of its pro-business, pro-job stances.

Vulcan has been at the forefront of the BCA since the beginning and the group even has an award named after former Vulcan CEO Bubba Lee for political courage.

Vulcan, Inc. believes that Alabama is “attractive because we have hardworking people that live in this state that are willing to give you great work for an honest wage.”

Although the company has been around almost 50 years, it is still looking to the future. Starting in 2012 and going through 2016, their facilities will be undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion to install two new melting furnaces and related equipment upgrades, doubling the capacity of our aluminum mill.

“All of this is to ensure our customers the highest quality products available today,” their website reads. “Vulcan is dedicated to the many markets we serve, and we aim to become your supplier of choice.

Yellowhammer’s Alabama Business Spotlight is a new series highlighting some of the state’s most successful businesses working to perfect their craft and share it with the rest of the nation.

12 hours ago

Bradley Byrne campaign announces launch of ‘Farmers for Bradley’ coalition

Bradley Byrne’s campaign for United States Senate announced Friday that key leaders from Alabama’s agriculture community have launched a “Farmers for Bradley” coalition to support Byrne.

Agriculture remains the top industry in Alabama, and we need a Senator who will not only vote right, but who will actually fight tooth and nail to support our farmers, landowners, and agribusinesses,” Byrne said in a statement. “To have such a strong group of agriculture leaders backing our campaign is a real honor and a testament to the hard work we have done over the years to support our Alabama farmers.”

Both State Senator Andrew Jones (R-Centre) and Mark Kaiser from Baldwin County, who lead the coalition, believe Byrne will fight for farmers in the Senate.


“When I first met Bradley, it was clear he is a fighter,” Jones said. “Agriculture is a very difficult industry with a wide range of challenges, so it is so important we have a U.S. Senator who will work with our farmers and leaders at the state level to make life a little easier.”

Kaiser echoed Jones’ comments and said, “Bradley just gets it when it comes to agriculture. He has taken the time to learn about the various issues impacting Alabama’s agriculture community, and he has used that knowledge to fight for us in Washington. Bradley doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk.”

“Bradley has an impressive record as a champion for Alabama’s farmers,” a press release stated. “From supporting the Farm Bill to cutting bureaucratic red tape, Bradley has always fought to ensure the farm economy remains stable and fair. Bradley plans to continue the fight for farmers by seeking a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

Kyle Morris also contributes daily to Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter @RealKyleMorris.

13 hours ago

Did a police officer go for his gun or not? This is not an appropriate resolution to the Alabama A&M/UNA issue

Last weekend, the Alabama A&M Bulldogs upset the University of North Alabama Lions in a football game that most of you didn’t know even took place by a 31-24 score.

After the game, a series of allegations were made that were pretty serious and require further investigation.

Here are the problems Bulldogs’ head coach Connell Maynor pointed out:


  • “It ain’t 1959, we don’t have to put up with that type stuff.”
  • Alabama A&M received no free tickets or tickets to sell to the public
  • Alabama A&M player weren’t allowed access to the field prior to two hours before the game
  • Alabama A&M coaches were told to have their credentials hanging around their neck, UNA coaches had theirs around their waist
  • His assistant coaches were not able to use the elevator right away because of fans being given priority
  • “There was too much stuff that went on off the field, behind the scenes that was not professional on their part at all.”
  • “And we were very very disappointed in the way they treated us, in every aspect off the field.”
  • The teams will not play again

And most importantly, according to the Florence Times Daily:

Maynor also alleged an incident occurred in which a police officer put “his hand on his gun” and saying “Did you hear what he said?” during an argument between a coach and security.

Whoa… what?

A police officer put his hand on his weapon during an argument with staff?


A police officer put his hand on his weapon during an argument with the staff of a Historically Black College and University at a football game?

Why don’t we know what agency this officer was with?

His name?

The name of the coach involved?

This is a serious allegation and is, no doubt, a racially tinged accusation.

There must be an investigation of this entire situation.

Only, there will not be an investigation. Alabama A&M has made it clear neither the coach nor the school will be commenting further, which is insane.

Alabama A&M’s head coach is alleging some pretty serious stuff, including a police officer going for his gun over a coach’s access to part of a football stadium.

Instead, we got a statement from the two schools that says the following:

“Alabama A&M University and the University of North Alabama are vital educational institutions that serve the North Alabama region and beyond. Both institutions are committed to working collaboratively to advance our respective missions. We are separated by 76 miles; however, we remain united in ensuring the viability of our institutions and the success of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and programs, both academically and athletically. As part of that collaborative commitment, both universities have been in communication since Monday about the recent UNA-AAMU football game at Braly Stadium to decide what, if any, next steps are necessary. Both institutions are committed to providing a safe, accommodating, friendly, and inclusive environment. We remain dedicated to furthering our relationship and enjoying a bright future, both on and off the field.”

The highlight is this (bold text added for emphasis):

As part of that collaborative commitment, both universities have been in communication since Monday about the recent UNA-AAMU football game at Braly Stadium to decide what, if any, next steps are necessary.

To put it bluntly, that statement is complete garbage.

Was there racism or not?

Was this just normal rivalry stuff?

Was there an effort by the University of North Alabama to behave in a way that Alabama A&M’s coach, staff, and players led to these words by a state employee about another state institution?

Is Coach Maynor lying?

If he is, why is he still employed?

If he is not, why don’t we know what actually happened?

Why is this police officer still on the job?

Shame on everyone involved in this situation, especially the leadership of these universities who have no interest in getting to the bottom of what actually happened.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN

13 hours ago

OIG report: ‘Serious issues,’ possible misuse of taxpayer dollars at Alabama Women’s Business Center locations

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report identifying “serious” material deficiencies with Women’s Business Center, Inc., an Alabama-based recipient of the SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) grant program.

Women’s Business Center, Inc. is responsible for operating two WBCs, located in Mobile and Brewton.

In the course of the OIG’s audit of SBA’s oversight of the nationwide WBC program, Women’s Business Center, Inc. denied OIG auditors access to both coastal Alabama center’s offices and records.

After issuing an administrative subpoena, the SBA OIG uncovered that both WBCs had actually been permanently closed since the fall of 2018 yet were still collecting federal government funds.


Further violations uncovered by the OIG included inadequately staffing centers, late and unpaid payroll, a major potential conflict of interest and failure to maintain an adequate financial management system and audited financial statements.

The OIG’s report concluded:

We determined that the Recipient has materially violated federal statutes, regulations, and the terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements. Its lack of required financial systems, records, and policies, and inability to pay its obligations, maintain open and available facilities and service hours, and staff its WBCs with full-time program directors indicates serious issues in the Recipient’s ability to operate and fulfill the WBC program requirements. We have deemed the documentation the Recipient has provided to us to be insufficient and incomplete. The Recipient denied access to OIG, an independent, authorized oversight entity, and disregarded governing federal regulations and terms and conditions of its cooperative agreements.

These findings impel SBA to take prompt corrective action to protect taxpayers’ dollars and help to ensure the integrity of the WBC program. SBA should pursue actions including, but not limited to, suspension, termination, and nonrenewal of the Recipient’s cooperative agreements, as well as suspension and debarment of the Recipient and its personnel.

In a statement reacting to the OIG report, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said, “The gross lack of oversight uncovered in the SBA OIG’s most recent management advisory is incredibly troubling.”

“SBA must take action to remedy the numerous deficiencies identified and enact the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations immediately,” he added. “I appreciate the Office of the Inspector General’s diligence in this matter and look forward to its swift resolution.”

Read the OIG report here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

Ivey back in Montgomery after outpatient procedure ‘went well and as planned’

Governor Kay Ivey on Friday underwent an initial outpatient procedure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) for early-stage lung cancer.

This followed her Thursday announcement that disclosed the next day’s procedure and radiation treatments to follow.

In a statement, Ivey’s press secretary, Gina Maiola, said, “The governor’s outpatient procedure today at UAB went well and as planned.”

“She is back in Montgomery and looks forward to returning to her regular schedule next week,” Maiola concluded.


RELATED: Support pours in after Ivey announces cancer diagnosis — ‘No step too high for a high-stepper’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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