The help wanted banner in front of ACI Building Systems is for real.
“We’re still a growing company,” ACI Vice-President and General Manager Keith Shedd said.
“More than 25 years later there are a lot of employees who have been here for a long time, and we’re still hiring,” he said.
Needed are welders and machine operators to cut and shape the panels and beams of steel that become components in the many varieties of steel buildings the company manufactures. New employees will join approximately 230 other ACI workers now on the job, many of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years.
ACI hosted its employees at a company picnic recently, recognizing years of service including three — Wesley Stewart, Ronnie Brower and Bill Rollinson — who have been with the company for 25 years.
From its beginnings in a small metal building that formerly housed a tractor dealership on Highway 6 at the intersection of Dummy Line Road, ACI Building Systems has added and enlarged to the extent that its size is now easier to visualize in acreage than square feet. At least six acres of manufacturing space now stretch for a quarter of a mile along the highway, making it “one of the largest manufacturing facilities in the industry,” Shedd said.
ACI manufactures metal buildings either in components that can be purchased separately or as complete building packages. One specialty division makes mini-warehouses, another metal roofing.
Typically, ACI designs and manufactures a building for a contractor/customer. Most people are surprised to learn the extent of ACI’s customer base, the general manager said. Though most customers are concentrated in the southeastern U.S., the Batesville-built buildings have also been shipped to California, Maine, Alaska and even overseas.
Buildings in Panola County that have been built by ACI or with its components include Heafner Motors, the support buildings at GE Aviation and the meditation center at the Magnolia Grove Monastery on Red Hill.
In 2010, during a 20th anniversary dinner, ACI President and CEO Tim Ritchie cited “dedicated employees, and loyal customers and vendors as the key to the company’s success.
In 2016, that’s still true, the general manager said.
The company’s flexibility and ability to provide structures specially adapted to customers’ needs has continued to build the company’ reputation.
ACI’s focus on protecting its customers, even during the lean building years that followed 2008, has fueled the expansion that continues.
“It gets tough,” Shedd said, recalling the construction slowdown. “Our employees stayed together.”
Output now reaches 25,000 to 30,000 tons of steel annually, all of it shaped into some configuration as a building component.
Shedd, an Alabama native, came to ACI in 2003.
“I really enjoy Batesville; everybody’s been great,” he said.
By John Howell, The Panolian