STL Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Joseph Suhor III
Chairman and CEO
Suhor Industries, Inc.
With $50,000 in capital and loans totaling $7.5 million, Joseph Suhor III bought the controlling stock of struggling company Sloan Enterprises in 1987, and Suhor Industries, Inc. was launched. At that time, the company employed 150 and had 16 locations in four states.
Since then Suhor Industries has acquired more than 50 companies in the funeral service and precast concrete industries. The company employs 735 with 80 locations in 20 states. Despite this success, the initial years were difficult with restructuring and onerous debt. However, the company learned discipline and immediately shared performance information with line managers.
That philosophy, led by Suhor III who has served as chairman and CEO for 26 years, created a culture that persists today. Decentralized management with total transparency of financial information to each location’s management is one hallmark to SI’s success. The other is the ability to purchase companies and assimilate the assets, employees and culture into SI.
The vision was clear early on to grow principally through acquisition. Suhor took advantage of some of the aging owners in the industry and offered structured exit strategies to allow growth without large cash outlays. The company’s reputation of fairness and follow-through provided professional capital to continue that growth. SI was expanding when others did not see the advantage.
Today, Suhor Industries is principally a funeral services provider, manufacturing concrete burial vaults and other funeral products. Secondarily, the company is a precast concrete producer of manholes, septic tanks, storm shelters and retaining walls. The burial vault industry has lost 30 percent of its market to cremation services in the last 12 years.
To combat that decline in revenue, SI further diversified in the funeral service industry across product lines allowing more opportunity for cross-selling and better utilization of the sales force. Vaults, caskets, cremation, memorial products and graveside services are now all part of SI’s offerings.
How to reach: Suhor Industries, Inc., www.suhor.com