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Unruh Construction goes big

Aug 15, 2023

Staff Writer


BLOSSOM — One of the largest concrete pumping trucks in the nation found a home in Lamar County this past week at Unruh Construction Company in Blossom. Two other pumping trucks its size are located in Florida with another one located in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

"We just thought because we live in the second largest state in the nation with the second largest Paris in the world and the largest Eiffel Tower in Texas that we should have one of the largest concrete pumping trucks in the world," Unruh Construction founder Earl Unruh joked last week after the 75-meter pump was delivered to the company's Blossom location on Highway 82. Manufactured in Korea by Korean Concrete Pumps, the pump was first delivered to Vancouver, Canada, and later installed on a Mack truck before being delivered to Blossom.

The pump will join a fleet of almost 30 other trucks the company owns of various sizes to service roughly 3,000 customers, both residential and commercial, throughout Texas and neighboring states. Concrete pump trucks set up on construction sites where they pump concrete delivered to them to exact locations as needed on the site.

With a boom that has a 246-foot vertical reach, the truck and its support system require a footprint the size of a gymnasium when set up and can deliver concrete as far away as from home plate at the Prairiland High School softball field to over the center field fence, as Isaac Unruh explains. Such a reach is often a requirement on large infrastructure jobs such as highway construction.

The truck will be in Longview this week for its first assignment and then probably will head to another project similar to a large steel project the company is working on in Corpus Christi.

Company founders Earl and Lenita Unruh came to Lamar County in 1980 from the Texas Panhandle town of Texline to begin a construction business along with a farming operation. The couple not only grew their presence in the county but their family as well. Along with their parents, brothers and Prairiland High School graduates Isaac, Chris and Trey are active in the business today, and a third generation is becoming involved as well.

The family began the concrete pumping truck business in 2008, a company the family began with one truck parked in Isaac Unruh's yard. Today, Unruh Construction concentrates solely on its pumping truck operation, and the business has grown to almost 30 trucks with 38 employees in locations to include Blossom and Corpus Christi in Texas as well as Caddo, Oklahoma, near Durant, and another in Alexandria, Louisiana.

While Isaac and his parents supervise the Blossom operation, Chris travels by company plane to the other locations while brother Trey spends most of his time at job sites, setting up the highly specialized pump trucks required in the concrete delivery industry today.

"In 2008, the reason we bought that first truck was because the economy completely collapsed and the biggest concrete pumping company in the world went bankrupt and liquidated their pump trucks," Earl Unruh said. "Our business grew all during the down economy."

After operating out of his yard for about six months, Isaac Unruh said the company

purchased the property where the main office and several large shop buildings are located in the western edge of Blossom on Highway 82.

"Each year we averaged growing about one truck a year until about 2019 when the economy opened up and we doubled our fleet by buying 15 more trucks over the next three years," Isaac Unruh said as he noted that even during the COVID epidemic the company stayed busy with residential jobs. "Everybody was getting their bonus checks and putting in swimming pools or building shops. They were working from home, sitting and looking at their backyards. We had some of our busiest months ever in May, June and July 2020."

Also in 2020, the company landed a contract on a $1.9 billion project for Steel Dynamics, a firm that produces steel from recycled scrap iron. As a result of that contract, the Unruhs opened a location in Corpus Christi and soon after, another in Alexandra, Louisiana. Increased business in southern Oklahoma, also prompted the opening of yet another operations site.

Hedging against inflation and another economic downturn, Isaac Unruh said it is time for the company to shore up its fleet with a focus on larger pump trucks.

"With this downturn in the economy that we’re dealing with now, the construction business leans more towards commercial and government, which means bridges, and bridges require big trucks," Isaac Unruh said.

Earl and Lenita Unruh moved here 43 years ago, and have been active members of the Blossom Church of Christ ever since. They and all three of their sons and all six of their grandchildren are members. Included are Isaac, and his wife, Sara, and their children, Grace and husband, Trace Smith, and Paul Unruh. Also, Chris and his wife, Heather, and their children, Cooper and Hallie; and Trey and his wife, Kelli, and their children, Caleb and Luke.

Mary Madewell is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6976 or at [email protected].

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