By Sondra Barr
As David Plyler embarks on a fresh term as mayor of Sherman, he does so with another significant accomplishment under his belt. President of Plyler Construction, he’s leading the company his grandfather Lloyd Plyler founded in 1962 to even greater heights.
While David follows his grandfather’s ideals and conservative financial-management philosophy, he’s also harnessing the power of the latest cutting-edge technology to ensure the company remains ultra competitive and continues to set the gold standard for construction services in the region and beyond.
When Lloyd located the company’s headquarters in Sherman 60 years ago, he recognized the significant role Plyler Construction would have on the evolution and growth of a city that was near and dear to his heart.
“The company’s first project was a Sherman Post Office, which, interestingly, is now our city hall. I have an office there,” says David. “We built a lot of things in Sherman and it grew from there.”
“We constructed the 320 Building on Travis Street in 1965, which is a landmark building. It’s a post modern building that’s really pretty. One of my dad’s good friends still owns it. He was going to renovate the upper floor for apartments not long ago,” says David. “Can you believe we still have the drawings on it?”
The 320 Building is just one of the significant community projects Plyler Construction has erected over 60 years. “There are a number of projects in Sherman we’ve done that we’re especially proud of like the First United Bank and Faith Church. We even did the community hospital addition back in the early ‘60s and my dad actually designed it,” says David.
Contributing to Plyler Construction’s success was it’s early adoption of the Design-Build delivery system. Lloyd’s vision of building a company that delivered such reliable project management and accountability that clients would choose Plyler again and again was paramount.
Recognizing that subcontractors could not work until the concrete and steel were in place, Lloyd established a Steel Fabrication and Erection division in 1970. What began as a 15,000-square-foot shop, is now one of the region’s largest steel fabrication facilities––an 85,000-square-foot state-of-the-art complex, housing an extensive array of cranes, conveyors, cutting tools, paint facilities, and amply areas for assembly and distribution.
Plyler’s Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) devision was established along with the Steel Fabrication and Erection division.
Bringing these elements under Plyler control eliminated crucial project pinch points, speeding production and maximizing efficiency. Plyler’s project managers, crew leaders, and tradesman––working in tandem, coordinating manpower and materials––promote fast project turnaround, which has become a Plyler hallmark.
Prior to taking the helm of Plyler Construction when his father passed away in early 2002, David attended Sherman High School and spent his summers working for the family business before continuing his education at Texas Tech University.
“I wanted to pursue architecture. Turns out, as I went through the courses, I leaned more toward the construction side, so I ended up in the College of Engineering going through the construction management program at Tech,” he says.
A fervent Red Raider to this day, David came back to Sherman after graduation fortified with the skills necessary to take Plyler Construction to the next level.
“As president of the firm, I handle all the financial and legal aspects, along with a lot of the marketing as it relates to general construction,” explains David, who has the help of his cousins Chris and Jory Plyler.
“Chris handles most of our design build and implementation. It’s a little bit different from what I do because the customer group is so different. They do mostly heavy industrial, manufacturing, factories, that sort of thing, whereas general construction handles churches, schools, banks, things of that nature. Meanwhile, Jory serves as the electrical project manager and handles a lot of the plumbing and heavy industrial-type installations.”
As family, all three Plylers have the same goal––the success of the company.
“I know they’re not going to leave the firm, so we have assurance that we’re all going to be there so we better make it work,” explains David.
And work, it does. With 89 employees, the company has completed projects far and wide including large-scale construction efforts for Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Sherman Independent School District, Austin College, and Grayson College.
David’s approached his role as mayor with the same logical business mind that’s fueled his success in the construction industry. “The city is essentially a nonprofit business,” he says. “The things that I learned in the construction company such as financial management, negotiation, business planning, long-term planning, infrastructure planning, all of those things I do here translate directly to what I do at the city.”
It also gives David a unique insight when he sits down with a prospective company coming into Sherman. “I know what their business is. I know what they need. I know what they look for. So I can speak their language when they come to town because I know what’s important to them when lining up a new facility,” says David, who points to the new multi-billion Texas Instrument project coming to Sherman as an example of the synergy that results from running a large construction company and being mayor.
“This will be in the top six manufacturing size plants in our nation,” explains David. “That’s going to really change our community. We’ve got a lot of developers looking to build homes here and there are about 6,000 houses to be built in Sherman that are already approved––that’s a lot of new friends and neighbors in our community.”
Growth on that scale can cause a slew of problems if a city isn’t ready with adequate infrastructure. David’s extensive construction experience translates into his knowledge that engineering firms need to be hired and utility upgrades are necessary. “There’s a lot of work to do on our part,” says David.
Speaking of work, David knows nothing is possible without a great team and Plyler Construction has some of the best. “Our average tenure is over 18 years. Not only that, some of our people have worked with us for over 30 years,” he says.
“You hear so often in construction companies that they ebb and flow; my goal is different in that we’re going to leave something lasting for our folks, not only our family, but our employees.”