COOKEVILLE – After more than 44 years at the helm of J&S Construction Company Inc., CEO Johnny Stites II has announced he has stepped down from his post and will be pursuing other career opportunities, following the decision to sell his interest in the company to other managing family members of J&S Construction.
Stites, 68, has worked at the fourth-generation company since 1971.
Johnny’s brother, Jack, will continue to lead the company as president with Kevin McCaleb serving as chief operating officer. Jack also has more than 40 years’ management experience in the construction industry and currently serves on the board for Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch, located in Riverhead, N.Y., the 2014-15 Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council and the Cookeville-Putnam County Sports Council.
“I have to admit, it’s a bittersweet day for me,” Jack said. “Johnny and I always thought that we’d be leaving the company together, but it just didn’t work out so we could. He’s going to leave some large shoes to fill.
“I’ll be quick to say the time that we’ve spent here – Johnny and I – has been only successful because of our experienced and dedicated staff,” Jack added. “We have the best team I have seen, and I know there will be no glitches as we move forward.”
Jack and Johnny’s father, John Stites, established J&S Construction in 1957. In its early days, the company was a relatively small firm that specialized in building speculative houses and small commercial projects.
“The early days were difficult because of my limited knowledge of the construction industry,” Johnny said. “Although my brother Jack and I had worked summers in construction, I did not know how to manage a construction company. I called the smartest and largest company I knew, and they allowed me to come to their office and observe many of their processes. Of course, much of my experience was gained from my Dad.”
In early 1976, John chose to step down at the age of 48, just five years after Johnny and Jack joined the company.
“I was sitting at my desk one morning, and Dad came in and asked me if I knew what we were trying to do in the construction business,” Johnny said. “I said, ‘Yes sir, but I still have a lot to learn.’ He said, ‘Good, call me if you need me.’ He walked out the door and never came back. I still can’t believe he did that, and his example was one of the reasons I did not want to stay too long. I wanted to turn over the company to the next generation and let them take it to the next level.”
Over the years, Johnny has served his community by being named to numerous boards and organizations. He has served more than 17 years with the Associated General Contractors (AGC), the largest and oldest construction organization in the state and the country. He has held several offices with the Middle Tennessee branch, serving as president from 2004-2006 and 2006-2007. At the AGC state level, he was secretary from 2008-2009, treasurer from 2010-2011, state executive vice president 2012-2013, and currently serves as president of AGC of Tennessee.
In 2013, he was honored with the SIR (Skill, Integrity, Responsibility) Construction Lifetime Achievement Award by the AGC of Tennessee’s Middle Tennessee branch.
Johnny has also been recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow by the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club where he served as president. He also received the Alumni Citation Award and the Distinguished Business Leader award from Abilene Christian University, his alma mater.
He will continue to play an active role in the community through the various boards and organizations on which he serves. In February 2014, he was appointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents by Gov. Bill Haslam to represent the 6th Congressional District. Johnny currently serves on the board of trustees for the College of Business at Tennessee Tech University and is currently taking courses at TTU for a master’s degree in strategic leadership.
Johnny will also continue to manage XI Investments — one of the largest building inventories in the Upper Cumberland, for his brother, Jack, and himself. For more than 25 years, XI Investments has developed commercial and industrial real estate for a wide variety of applications across the Mid-South area including clients such as Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Federal Express, Flexial, GNC Health Food Store, Blue Coast Burrito, Goody’s, Honey Baked Ham, JCPenney, Lifeway Christian Book Store, Roadway Express and United Rentals. Holdings also include the Cookeville Mall and Times Square shopping center, the only energy-efficient, LEED® Silver Certified retail building in the Upper Cumberland.
“I am thankful for the many friends who allowed me the opportunity to serve them in construction over the past 44 years,” Johnny said. “I look forward to serving them in another capacity as I move forward into the future.”