How a plumbing business became a multi-faceted construction and disaster recovery company

Posted On January 19, 2023

How does a small plumbing company become a massive construction and disaster recovery business with about 200 employees, offices in five states and work lined up throughout the Western Hemisphere?

In the case of Persons Services Corp., it happened through a succession that was fueled by the new generation adding new expertise to chase new opportunities.

Our guest in the latest episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston,” Buddy Persons, is President and CEO of Mobile-based Persons Services Corp., and Managing Director of Persons Development Company. The company was founded in 1978 by Persons’ father, Paul E. Persons, Sr., as a one-man plumbing operation, but it has grown into much more.

Buddy Persons had been around his father’s business most of his life, But after earning a degree in Building Science from Auburn, he went to work for another company in Mobile that specialized in disaster recovery. When that company was sold, Persons brought his experience back to his father’s plumbing company.

“It kind of happened organically. There wasn’t some master plan,” Persons said. “As I was working in multiple businesses, we started adding a few more scopes here, a few more scopes there. I always loved the disaster business, so a lot of things kept trending back that way.”

So began a transformation that grew the company across the Southeast and includes work in the Caribbean and South and Central America. Persons and his company have done recovery work and reconstruction in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there and have mitigated water damage and rebuilt homes in south Florida after Hurricane Ian.

Persons Services Corp., now has four groups: construction, industrial/mechanical, disaster recovery, and infrastructure. And Persons says all four are growing.

“I’ve always been somebody that chases everything because I’m scared if we run out of revenue, what are we going to do?” he said. “I’ve tried to focus that and channel it and that’s why we’ve focused on these four business groups. Now I’m really focusing on professionalizing the internal infrastructure, and becoming a perpetuating business.

“At the end of the day, the goal is become a perpetuating business that people want to go to work for, and that’s going to last long after me, a place where you can come to work sweeping the warehouse, but you can become the president one day.”

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