A longtime family-led company in York that operates in many of the industries represented on the Business Journal’s annual Top 100/250 private companies list filed combined revenue figures for the first time and nearly topped this year’s list.
Stewart Group Inc., which does business as The Stewart Companies, finished 2016 with $942.6 million in revenue, up nearly 6 percent from 2015.
Like perennial Lancaster County powerhouse High Companies, which has a stable of subsidiaries, the Stewart family of companies operates a diverse cadre of businesses in construction, automotive, real estate, manufacturing and billboard media.
Among the more recognizable company names are Stewart & Tate Construction and Apple Automotive Group.
Stewart & Tate is one of the midstate’s largest general contractors, with $195.3 million in revenue last year. Apple is the largest family-owned automotive dealership group in the region with 10 franchise dealerships across most major brands, as well as a growing roster of service centers and car washes.
Acquisitions have helped fuel some of Stewart Group’s growth over the last decade, CEO David Stewart said.
Last fall, Apple acquired Hake’s Body Shop in Wrightsville. And in 2010, Stewart & Tate acquired Riley Welding & Fabricating in Hanover. Stewart called it the perfect supplement to the company’s industrial construction business.
“The M&A activity is still vibrant in most industries,” he said. “We’re always looking for great opportunities that fit our culture.”
A steadily improving economy, which has lifted auto sales and construction activity, also has helped many of Stewart Group’s related companies.
Construction growth, for example, has provided more opportunities for the company’s building materials business.
Stewart Group owns York Building Products, the region’s largest supplier of building materials. It also owns a related company, Western Slope Materials, which is based in Colorado.
York Building Products acquired a Maryland-based concrete products manufacturer last year. Stewart also expanded its presence in Virginia with the purchase of a plant for concrete products manufacturing.
The company will continue to look for other deals outside of the Mid-Atlantic, Stewart said.
The third-generation company, which was started by his grandfather in 1935, also is gearing up for a fourth generation. There are nine family owners currently involved.
Stewart, who has been CEO since 2014, worked summers through high school and college. After college, he worked briefly for Stewart & Tate and then moved over to York Building Products to run the masonry division. He went on to lead that company and was COO of Stewart Group for four years before becoming CEO.
Outside of the family, recruitment is a constant. Stewart Group has more than 1,300 full-time employees, up from about 1,100 in 2013. But as the labor market has tightened, large employers such as Stewart Group have found they need to not only focus their time on recruiting at technical schools and other colleges but also in high school programs.
Social media also has been a growing vehicle for recruiting millennials.
Stewart officials tout the entire company and opportunities for career advancement to recruits, Stewart said.
Prospective hires today typically ask about compensation and benefits as well as flexibility, he added. In response, larger employers have been adjusting their paid time off policies and creating more flexible work hours, changes Stewart has made over the last 18 months, to be more competitive and attract skilled workers.
Continuing education programs also are frequently under discussion.
“We continue to train from within and emphasize our career path opportunities,” Stewart said. “It’s not just a job.”