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Posted by McElroy Metal ● Feb 26, 2024 8:00:00 AM

A McElroy Minute with Tem McElroy

Today we are honored to spend some time with Tem McElroy. Our president from 1975 to 2007, Tem led McElroy Metal through 32 years of tremendous growth and success and now serves as our Chairman of the Board. While there are many reasons to celebrate Tem as a leader, today we also honor him for a different reason – his 80th birthday! We're happy to share this special conversation with Tem on such a monumental occasion.

TemMcElroyTem and his family have a remarkable story, and we started at the very beginning.

The Past

How did your parents meet?

My dad went to Ole Miss and played football there, but it was during the Great Depression, so I'm not sure he could stay there very long. He also worked in the oil field as a roughneck and later for the forest service in Rocky Mountain National Park. That's actually where he met my mother. She was there on vacation with her family. He later moved to Shreveport to be with her. They got married, and he enlisted in the Army during the war.

How did your dad end up in the metal industry?

After the war, he came home and went into the theater business. My uncle was his financial backer. At one point, he had ten theaters.

He was trying to find something to do in Shreveport and eventually realized that the theater business wasn't it. He had been in the industrial supply business and bought a company called Pelican Supply. He later sold that business and opened McElroy Metal in the same building. His thought was that the only metal roof manufacturers were in Houston and New Orleans, which were a good distance away from Shreveport. And since local folks were paying shipping from New Orleans, he figured they could buy cheaper locally. He and two employees started McElroy Metal. They worked their tails off and stayed late every night when he started the company. He also had a partner but bought him out when I returned to join the business.

How did your approach to running McElroy Metal differ from your father's?

My dad and I had very different approaches to running McElroy Metal. He was quite content with the one facility in Shreveport, and when I took over as our president in 1975, I knew that I wanted to grow the business aggressively.


In fact, we added our second plant the very next year in Clinton, IL (1976). And we continued to add a new plant every few years. We opened our first Metal Mart in 1985 and our first Service Center facility in 1993. Those were busy but very fun times!

What do you remember most about your dad?

He was a fierce competitor, stubborn, not afraid of hard work, and didn't give up. He also didn't mind getting hurt or dirty. And he loved to hunt. After he retired, he and my mom would go up to Canada with their hunting dogs and follow the hunting season south. He hunted quail and ducks primarily.

Who has been your biggest mentor/role model?

My dad was the same sort of person as me. He was very focused on things but yet had no technical knowledge. He just wanted to win and fought like hell to win. He also possessed an entrepreneurial spirit that he passed to me and, of course, later, Ian.

As the conversation shifted gears from past to present, we assumed the topics would focus more on Tem's personal life than work. However, he surprised us once again as he dove back to McElroy topics. Even at this stage of his life, we're all so lucky that he continues to think of us before himself.

The Present

How are we different/better than our competitors?

Our people are dedicated to doing the job. Our people are very interested and do what they can. We've had a good run and phenomenal success.

What is the most important part of our culture?

I think it's always been because we care about our people and we take care of the customers. We want to win and, maybe more importantly, help our customers win, so we walk in their shoes to fix whatever problem they're having. And the fact that we have employees leave us and want to return tells me that we're a better place to work than many other options. That means a lot to me.

What advice would you give our current employee-owners?

Be focused on the job and the business. You can't sit back and wait for something to happen. You have to come up with ideas and then go make things happen.

After five decades, it seems obvious that McElroy Metal and Tem's private life overlapped often. But with a bit of prodding (and some very focused questions!), we were able to gain a few glimpses of the things that make Mr. Mac tick on a personal level.

What does a day at the office look like for you these days?

You don't want to know; he says with a smile. I don't do much anymore. If I'm in town, I'm in here. But I don't come in at 8:00, and I don't leave at 5:00. Sometimes, I don't leave until 6:00 pm. Making birthday calls is probably one of the biggest things I do for the company these days. I really enjoy the chance it gives me to talk to our folks.

How do you spend your time when you're not at the office?

I do a lot of volunteer work and am on several boards. I'm on Centenary College's board and the Holy Angels' finance committee. Holy Angels has been in Shreveport for 40-50 years now. It's an in-residence home for people with physical and mental challenges. They can house about 200 folks. Volunteers run it, and they do a really good job. That's my favorite philanthropic activity. I'm also involved with my church and on their finance committee.

When you get the rare opportunity for free time, how do you like to spend it?

I like to read about cars, boats, and airplanes. I also enjoy spending time with my family. My wife of 60 years and I do a lot of things together. We got married right out of college. And she worked to put me through grad school. We really enjoy traveling together. Colorado is probably one of our favorite spots. We've given up skiing but enjoy hiking now. We recently took a trip to France and went down the canals on a small boat. It was a really fun trip.


I enjoy hunting, too, but not as much as my dad did. I still get out a couple of times a year and hunt primarily birds. Ian likes to hunt also but doesn't do it often because he doesn't have time. We do enjoy father-son hunts when we get the opportunity.

What is your least favorite thing to do?

I don't like to go shopping. Well, I should clarify that. I don't like to go shopping for clothes and that kind of thing. I do enjoy shopping for a car.

What’s your favorite food?

Chocolate is my favorite treat, but I like all types of food. I even enjoy foods like Indian and Mexican.

You’ve accomplished so much for McElroy Metal. What makes you the proudest?

I guess I'm proud of the fact that Ian took over and is doing a great job. He's really good at running McElroy Metal, and I've been really impressed. John Darrah, our former Senior Vice President, came up to me one day and told me that it was time for me to get out of Ian's way and let him run the company because he would do a better job than I was doing. He was right. I've never regretted the decision.john-darrah-former-senior-vice-president-john-kelly-sherwin-williams-mark-lawson-retired-vice-president-of-sales-tem-mcelroy-2

Since Tem had the vision to make McElroy Metal what it is today, we thought it would be interesting to get his take on the future as we wrapped up our discussion.

The Future

How do we look different in the next 5-10 years?

I have no idea, but I do know we're going the right way. I'd like to still be here when we become a bigger company. I think it will be interesting to see how the ESOP works. I have several friends who have gone down this path, and it's worked out really well for the business owners and employees.

What is still on your bucket list?

Primarily to keep living. I think we'd like to do some more traveling and spend time with our kids and eight grandchildren.

Editor's Note: While our discussion with Tem lasted less than an hour, and topics spanned his 53-year career (and counting!), we didn't begin to touch the lives and families that Tem has positively impacted through his leadership and devotion to the employee-owners of McElroy Metal.

Tem, thank you so much for creating and shaping McElroy Metal into the company that we are today. Through your insight, sacrifices, risks, hard work, relationships, and desire to win, you've created a company we are all proud to call our own! Happy Birthday, and cheers to many more.


Employment at McElroy Metal

McElroy Metal’s success over the years is largely attributed to the talented and dedicated employees across the country. McElroy Metal’s extensive footprint of locations and distinct business units offer employment candidates a wide variety of fulfilling options such as manufacturing, customer service, retail and corporate positions.

Topics: Insider

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