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UA Business Hall of Fame 2017: Thomas B. Schueck

4 min read

Tom Schueck, a newly graduated civil engineer, moved to Little Rock in the 1960s to work on the Murray Lock and Dam. But it didn’t take him long to form Schueck Steel Products in his converted garage — a company with $800 to its name and one employee, Tom’s pregnant wife, Marge.

It was a humble beginning for a company that now encompasses five subsidiaries with 2,200 employees and more than $300 million in annual revenue.

Today, Thomas B. Schueck is the chairman of Lexicon Inc. Since starting his company from scratch in 1968, he has built the Little Rock-based company into one of the leading heavy construction companies in the nation.

Schueck grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood on the south side of St. Louis. After high school, he got a job working as a time keeper for a local construction company, but soon decided to pursue an engineering degree. He started taking night classes, then he quickly made the switch to full-time student, graduating with a civil engineering degree from Washington University in 1965.

He married Marge in 1965, and they moved to Little Rock, where he opened Schueck Steel Products. While serving as a factory representative for various steel products, Schueck learned of his customers’ other needs and decided to expand Schueck Steel into sheet metal, steel fabrication, steel erection and the setting of heavy pieces of equipment and machinery. The company’s first major projects included the Veterans Administration Hospital in Little Rock and Dillard’s Department Stores across Texas and Arkansas.

With hard work and ingenuity, the operation steadily flourished into five companies under the umbrella of Lexicon Inc. It now includes Schueck Steel, a steel erector and heavy equipment setting company; Prospect Steel, a structural steel fabricator; Custom Metals, a heavy-plate fabricator; L-Con Engineers and Constructors, a provider of engineering and construction services, with a specialty in the petrochemical, refining, power and other heavy industrial markets; and Heritage Links, a golf course construction company. These five companies work together on projects around the world — delivering each on time and within budget without sacrificing safety or quality. In fact, most of Lexicon Inc.’s projects are “self-performed” at the rate of approximately 5 million man-hours per year.

Over the past 30 years, Schueck Steel has played a major role in projects including the Nucor-Yamato Steel and Big River Steel mills in northeast Arkansas; voestalpine Group hot briquetted iron (HBI) plant in Corpus Christi, Texas; Nucor Steel direct-reduced iron (DRI) plant in Convent, Louisiana; Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas; the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences patient towers in Little Rock, Arkansas; and the McCormick West Convention Center in Chicago.

Throughout this success, Schueck has made it a priority to give back to others. Each year, his companies share 50 percent of their gross profits with employees. These shared profit bonuses go above and beyond employees’ standard salary and benefit packages — resulting in millions of shared profits. In addition, employees get a $10,000 bonus check, taxes paid, on their 20th anniversary date with the companies.

Schueck and the Schueck Family Foundation have also been long-time supporters of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Baptist Health Foundation, St. Vincent’s Foundation, Indiana University Cancer Research, UAMS Hospital and Cancer Center, Moog Center for the Deaf in St. Louis, University of Arkansas Foundation, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, Razorback Foundation, Heifer International, AEDC Foundation, Clinton Foundation, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, P.A.R.K., WWII Museum in New Orleans, Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Pulaski County, the Watershed Human and Development Agency, Salvation Army and many others. The family provided a matching $100,000 gift to the University of Arkansas, College of Engineering for the establishment of two endowed doctoral fellowships, which will be used to attract and retain highly qualified doctoral candidates in civil engineering.

In addition to his charitable work, Schueck serves as the vice chairman of the Arkansas State Highway Commission and as a member of the UAMS Foundation Board, The Nature Conservancy, Arkansas Industrial and Economic Development Foundation. He has previously served on the Little Rock Municipal Airport Commission; Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission; Little Rock Progress Committee; and Arkansas Pollution Control and Ecology Commission. He is a past board member of the Little Rock Regional Chamber and the Little Rock Boys & Girls Club and an active member of American Institute of Steel Contractors, Arkansas Society of Mechanical Engineers and Arkansas Manufacturers Association.

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