One comes to some realizations as one ages, among them is the fact that life’s not fair; your choice is to play the hand you were dealt to the best of your ability — or not. Another is that it’s easier to tear the world down than to build it.
Tom Schueck, whose fireman father died when Tom was in grade school, was dealt a less than optimal hand. But he parlayed that hand into one of Arkansas’ biggest private companies, a conglomerate employing 2,000.
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And as for building? That’s exactly what Schueck did. He built Lexicon Inc., whose companies fabricate steel and construct power plants, refineries and steel mills, including the $1.3 billion Big River Steel facility completed in 2017. Lexicon steel can found inside Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Schueck started his company in 1968 in his garage (or carport, according to one account). He had $800 in the bank and one employee, his wife, Marge. (Starting companies in garages and carports may sound like a cliché, but it’s a cliché because, at least in Arkansas, it happens pretty often.)
Forty-nine years later, the “titan” of steel, civic leader and philanthropist was inducted into the University of Arkansas’ Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
Schueck “leveraged his success in business to help others,” as the family’s obituary eloquently noted. He served the state in many ways — he was chairman of the Arkansas Highway Commission at the time of his death — but he also gave generously to individuals and to nonprofits.
In a 2017 interview, Schueck told Arkansas Business that the most important ingredient for success was “relationships. You have to have them to go to the next level. Know your customer with the goal of knowing them personally.”
Schueck built many fruitful relationships, some forged in steel.