The Union Recorder

February 7, 2014

Fowler Flemister modeled on integrity

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder


The Fowler Flemister name harkens back to days as a coal company at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Milledgeville-based business evolved with the times, adding building materials to the inventory of coal. Eventually ready mix concrete became a specialty.

John A. “Gus” Pursley Jr. began working for Fowler Flemister in 1946.

By 1967, Pursley Jr. and Alta M. “Sis” Ross purchased the ready mix branch of the building material business from Walter Williams Jr. 

“When we bought the concrete company, it was the only entity left,” Pursley Jr. said.

Shortly before her retirement, Ross sold her interest to Pursley in 1977.

Along with son, Pursley III, the family maintains Milledgeville’s oldest manufacturing facility still in operation.

The only major local move made was from North Wayne Street to North Wilkinson Street. Pursley Jr. said the using another name was discussed but failed to gain traction.

“We had a lot of people say why don’t you change it” Pursley Jr. said. 

Contractors would always call and ask for Fowler Flemister.

“We said we aren’t going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg,” he added. “We stayed with it until we got out of the building supply business.”

Fowler Flemister is Milledgeville’s full-service “one-stop shop” concrete and masonry supplier furnishing anything from curing compounds, sealers, color stains, reinforcing rods or wire, mortar mix, stone and sand used in both commercial and residential building. 

Fowler Flemister Concrete’s range of products expanded over time but the business’s integrity hasn’t changed.

“You are dependent on the integrity and reputation of the supplier when you buy ready mix concrete,” Pursley Jr. said. 

The concrete is tested every 50 yards on industrial jobs. Residential customers rely on the supplier’s accuracy.

“There is a sense of trust that you know you are getting what you pay for,” Pursley III said.

The industry changed with the times considering the elder Pursley has lasted nearly 70 years within it.

Pursley Jr. said in the old days employees mixed concrete one bag at a time.

“That was really work,” he said.

From two yard trucks of yesteryear to nine anchoring today’s fleet, Fowler Flemister’s equipment remains on the cutting edge.

Technological advances allow incredibly accurate and varied customer options. Instead of waiting a week for a certain look, clientele get immediate action.

“We have a computerized color dispense system. It’s like walking into a paint store,” Pursley III said. “We’ve got five vats that have a different pigment. We can blend the colors at that moment.”

Alterations to environmental codes affected Fowler Flemister as well.

Pursley III said nothing but recycled water will do.

“We used to not worry about water leaving the property, but now we recycle 100 percent of it,” he said.

Pursley III said leading up to 2007 nearly 75 percent of business was residential.

“Now, the last six or seven years we’ve depended on whatever there was, which has been anything but residential,” the current company president said. 

A gigantic Georgia Department of Transportation job helped the present day bottom line.

Fowler Flemister won the bid for the final three phases of the Fall Line Freeway connecting traversing Baldwin County.

“That’s the difference in being on life support and maybe self-sustainable,” Pursley III said.

Fowler Flemister owns four other plants at Lake Oconee, Madison, Monticello and Greensboro.

Contractors surrounding the Milledgeville and Eatonton lake areas trust the name.

“We’ve managed through service, a quality product and dependability to maintain a good reputation,” Pursley III said. “Contractors tell us everyday that we are their suppliers of choice.”

Currently, the concrete company has 49 employees. 

The Pursleys agree most of the customer loyalty spawns from quality workforce.

“We’ve got good people that are the backbone of this organization,” Pursley III said. 

Since the ownership move in 1967, Fowler Flemister will always be known as a family business.

“It’s been a great life,” Pursley Jr. said. “Milledgeville has been good to us, and we’ve tried to be good to Milledgeville.”

The business, located at 711 N. Wilkinson St., can be reached at 478-452-0541.