77 YEARS and COUNTING
Williams Steel Company
1928 to present
In April 1928 The Kirby-Williams Steel Works Inc. acquired the first charter to incorporate for the purpose of manufacture and fabrication of raw materials by aid of machinery and to construct and erect steel, iron, wood and concrete bridges. Also included was the manufacturing of farm implements. The officers were E.D. Kirby and John Williams, primary owners, and P.H. Callahan, W.A. Caldwell, J.T. Rothrock, with minor interest.
The first shop and office was located on Mill Street near the Southern Engine and
Boiler Works shop. During the years from 1925 to 1940, as steel connections progressed from power driven rivets to bolted and welded connections, the company’s fabrication included highway and railroad bridges, farm implements, jails, cotton gins, seed storage bins, water tanks, building trusses, columns and beams.
During WWII the company contracted with the Department of Navy to build 3000 pontoons to be used for bridges, docks, and torpedo net floats. In the fall of 1945, needing additional space for fabrication and storage, Kirby-Williams Steel Works built a new manufacturing plant with two story office on Lake Street in Jackson.
The company immediately added a 15,000 sq. ft. shop for farm implement production. In February 1949, the company name changed to John Williams Steel Works, Inc. The charter included the manufacturing of items done by Kirby Williams Steel Works and added the right to operate a steel rolling mill. The officers were John L. Williams, owner, J.D. Jones, L.L. Lane, and W.P. Moss. In the early 50’s the Ford Tractor Company attempted to buy the implement division of the company but failed. In the following years, as Jackson and the surrounding area shifted from Railroad-Agriculture to Industrial-Manufacturing, the implement division was phased out and a new emphasis on water tank and building construction began.
In 1963 John L. Williams, who was the sole owner, sold the company to James E. Campbell Jr., F. W. Hamilton, Roy Johnson, and two additional investors-J. Jones and O.M. Bailey. The corporate name was changed to Williams Steel Company at this time. Under the leadership of F.W. Hamilton, President, the company continued growth in production and sales of structural steel for commercial and industrial buildings. Between 1976 and 1982 there was a systematic change in ownership of the company, beginning with the retiring of R. Johnson’s stock. During that time, J.E. Campbell III, C.W. Campbell and J.L. Campbell were employed and began purchasing stock issues. By 1982 Williams Steel Company was entirely family owned with J.E. Campbell Jr., President.
With early work experience in the company and degrees in engineering and business, the new officers of the company were prepared to move into a phenomenal growth mode. An 18,000 sq. ft. West Plant was constructed at the Lake Street facility in 1982. Then, in 1985, the company purchased the 100,000 sq. ft. Iselin GM&O railroad shop in Jackson and promptly converted it into a modern fabrication facility for heavy structural assemblies. With these latest additions, the company now has 3 plants in Jackson totaling over 160,000 sq. ft. and one of the largest structural capacities in the southeast.