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Lexicon’s Patrick Schueck Braces for Labor Shortage, Embraces Tariffs

3 min read

A Little Rock native, Patrick Schueck was an Arkansas Business 40 Under 40 honoree in 2006, when he was vice president of Prospect Steel, a company under the Lexicon umbrella. He has overseen major steel fabrication projects like the McCormick Center in Chicago, Nissan’s auto plant in Jackson, Mississippi, the Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Dallas Cowboys’ latest home, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He currently serves as president of Lexicon Fabricators and Constructors of Little Rock.

Schueck, a graduate of Catholic High School in Little Rock, earned his bachelor’s in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He describes his father, Lexicon Inc. Chairman Tom Schueck, as “an industry icon.”

How have steel tariffs affected your business, and are they leveling the playing field with China?
Steel tariffs have had a huge benefit to our business. Fabrication orders are up, steel mill maintenance continues to do very well as most steel mills are operating at very high levels, and new construction levels are on the rise due to the increased demand for domestic steel in a thriving economy.

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Steel tariffs are removing the artificially low cost of foreign steel. They are leveling the playing field for domestic steel producers and fabricators. We are seeing about 3.5 million less tons of imported raw and fabricated steel entering our country. Most of this decrease has been since June 1. We are pleased to see the United States government finally fighting back for the American ironworker.

What does 2019 look like for Lexicon, and what big projects will you be working on?
2019 looks to be a strong year. We have a long list of steel mill capital spending projects, new bar mills and continued steel mill maintenance. Our fabrication division, Prospect Steel, continues to see opportunities in data center, distribution center, hospitals and industrial projects. We are seeing a continued increase of golf course renovation projects. Midstream work continues to grow as the price of oil has remained somewhat consistent.

They say mistakes can be important lessons in business. Is there a mistake you made that taught you something?
If I listed all of my mistakes that I learned lessons from, Arkansas Business would run out of ink. I am incredibly fortunate to work for a company and a father who understands the value of a lesson well learned. In our business, mistakes cost money and I have lost a lot of money. But the process made me better and Lexicon stronger.

What does it mean to you personally and as a businessman that your dad, Tom Schueck, founded the company?
Working with my father every day is a blessing. Somedays, it is hard to understand the blessing, but all in all I am a lucky man to be able to work alongside and learn from an industry icon.

As a steel industry executive, what keeps you up at night?
Safety and labor. At Lexicon, we “strive for zero” — zero accidents, injuries and recordables. We work close to 4 million man-hours a year, and we want each employee to go home the same way they came to work. Keeping our people safe is the most critical part of our management team’s objectives. It is priority No. 1 for everyone in our organization.

I believe the next major problem in the United States will be skilled labor. At Lexicon, we build America every day. It takes skilled craftsmen to do the work. People around the country need to understand being a skilled worker in the construction trades is a noble career that pays exceptionally well and allows you to be part of something bigger.

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