WASCO and Lovell’s: From the same masonry family Tennessee has trusted for decades.
“If Lovell’s had ceased to operate after Raymond’s 1989 stroke halted his active involvement, leading to WASCO’s purchase a few years later, he would nonetheless have left behind a fitting legacy”. – Where we left off on Part 1.
However, Lovell’s was carried forward by Raymond’s son Ronnie, an experienced mason who stepped up from supervisor into an estimator role after his father’s health declined. WASCO lent support during the transition to the next generation while letting Lovell’s continue to operate independently as Lovell’s, which it had successfully done for three decades.
Ronnie was given the role of company president in March of 1997, not long after his sons David and Steven had come aboard. With its number of contracts and employees still on the rise, Lovell’s began tackling local projects including the Maury County Jail, Columbia Power and Water, and a three-floor expansion to the west tower of Maury Regional Medical Center in addition to an increasing number of projects in surrounding counties.
David, who became a journeyman mason, gradually moved through the ranks to foreman, supervisor, estimator and project manager after health issues sidelined father Ronnie in 2003. Again, WASCO offered only as much assistance as necessary to keep the family business intact and position the next Lovell in line, David, to take the reins once held by Ronnie and Raymond. David had first worked on job sites as a youth under his grandfather, “moving brick and making mud . . . I was operating a forklift long before I could drive a car.” He remembers Raymond as being “quality conscious, very meticulous, very personable with his employees—as fine a man as you’ll ever find.” David highlights his recollections of his grandfather with a handed-down story about Lovell’s early ’80s work on Columbia’s First Methodist Church on West 7th Street.
“There was something about this brick, maybe the texture of it, but my granddad was adamant that he wanted the joints as smooth as possible, and the standard tools that our masons would use didn’t satisfy him,” Lovell begins. “He experimented with several things, and what he finally found to joint this building with was a Tropicana orange juice bottle. Back then they were thick glass, and he would take the edge of the bottom of that bottle, and that’s what he wanted used to strike the joints on this building. So he went out and bought a couple of cases of this Tropicana orange juice—it came in a small 6- or 8-ounce bottle back then—and that’s what we jointed that building with,” Lovell says. “That’s the way he wanted it, and that’s what he got.”