Meridian Star

May 4, 2013

Meridian business reaches 75-year milestone

Special to The Star
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Southern Pipe & Supply is celebrating 75 years in the plumbing supply business.

    This milestone puts Southern Pipe in elite company in Mississippi and in the U.S.  According to the Mississippi Business Journal’s list of top companies in the state and other research, only about 10 percent of privately held companies in the state make it to the 75-year mark.

    Louis Davidson beat the odds when he sailed from his native Russia to America and started the successful St. Louis Junk Company in Meridian in 1918. His sons, Meyer and Sammie, eventually joined him in business, renaming the company Southern Pipe & Supply in 1938. Meyer’s son, Marty Davidson, grew up in the family business and today is Southern Pipe’s chairman of the board.

    Louis Davidson’s great-grandson, Jay Davidson, knows something about beating even greater odds as the fourth generation to assume the presidency of Southern Pipe & Supply.  Only 3 percent of privately held family businesses in the U.S. make it to the fourth generation, according to research by peakfamilybusiness.com.

    “My great-grandfather’s legacy is a bold American success story, a company that has survived and thrived by surpassing expectations and helping its partners, customers and employees reach their goals,” Jay Davidson said.

    The company was in its infancy during the Great Depression and has survived a World War and many economic recessions, including the 2008 recession, and an ever-changing business landscape. The Davidson family attributes a set of core values to the company’s survival and growth over more than seven decades.

    “Our products and services have adapted to customer demands, while our company has maintained a set of values that includes treating employees as family members, a strong work ethic, and teamwork,” Jay Davidson said. “We are also committed to finding solutions for our customers’ toughest challenges.”

    This set of values mirrors those held by the longest-lived U.S. companies.  “Companies that preserve passionately held core values while progressing in products and services to meet marketplace demands are the ones that survive,” said Jim Collins, a management expert who studies corporate longevity and is the author of "Built to Last."

    Today, Southern Pipe & Supply operates 96 locations in seven states, providing trade professionals and homeowners with the best of brand name plumbing, heating, air-conditioning (HVAC), industrial, mechanical, and water and sewer supplies. The company’s Southern Bath & Kitchen division offers expert consultation and high-end fixtures, appliances, and cabinetry.

    The company is one of the industry’s largest privately held, independent wholesalers in the Southeast. Future plans include expansion and growth of products and services throughout the Southeast. “We will take our company’s ability to adapt and our core values into the next 75 years,” said Jay Davidson.

    The company's 75th anniversary celebration activities have included an address to executives, branch managers and sales staff by University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban; open house events at every store location to thank customers for their continued support; a company-wide picnic for employees and their families in Meridian; and a gala dinner for major vendors featuring author Jim Collins as the keynote speaker.