J. Don Brock founded Astec in 1972 along with four other friends and associates. Under his leadership, Astec grew into a global company of 18 subsidiaries in the U.S. and abroad. Today, Astec is a publicly-traded company with approximately $1 billion dollars in sales and more than 4,000 employees worldwide.
Don was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in October 1938. He was one of two children born to the late James and Edna Brock. He graduated from Central High School in 1957 and received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1961. He continued his education at the Georgia Institute of Technology earning a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1963 and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 1965.
While in high school, Don worked with his dad building thermal hot oil heaters and asphalt storage tanks. This was the beginning of his career in the industry. It was at Georgia Tech that Don invented a revolutionary carpet dryer; this gave him the money to start Astec Industries.
When asked about the formulas for success, Astec management shared the following:
- Continuous devotion to meeting the needs of our customers.
As we wordsmith it, we say, “Continuous devotion to meeting the needs of our customers.” This means to give good service; educate the customer in how to use the equipment and maintain it, fix it if a problem arises, and fix it quickly, then determine what caused the problem, who was responsible, etc.
- Honesty and integrity in all aspects of business.
In other words, you do what you say you are going to do regard-less of whether it’s in the contract or not. Make sure that you fulfill all of your promises to the customer. Just do the right thing.
- Respect for all individuals.
All associates working for Astec should be treated the same regardless of their position. Every job is important regardless of what it is, or we would not have the job. For example, our receptionists are our managers of first impression. We encourage them to answer the phone properly and show common courtesy.
- Preserving entrepreneurial spirit and innovation.
We operate through a structure where each company has the opportunity to develop its own products, focus on those products to make sure they work properly, be proud of what they manufacture and build, and make sure that these products operate as they have promised to their customers.
- Safety, quality and productivity as means to ensure success.
This would insure giving a return to the stock-holders. While this is not the first core value, it is a byproduct of doing the first four values right.
While he was a quiet and unassuming man in person, no one would argue with calling him a giant in the industry. His legacy includes the founding of Astec in addition to holding approximately 100 patents, many of which helped to change the asphalt industry. Don was chairman of the board and CEO of Astec until 2014 when his son Ben Brock became CEO of the company. Don remained chairman of
the board of Astec until his death, in 2015