"Customer Service and taking care of the people we serve has always been the key to this company’s future. I have poured my life and career into that principle, and I am committed to always providing the very best service I possibly can…"
Gary Cooper grew up at CooperSteel. Literally and figuratively.Since 1973, Gary has worked in almost every discipline of the steel business.
All along the way, great customer service has been his goal. Even whenhe was simply priming steel in his first position with the company, hemade it a priority to serve all of his clients with honor, dignity andrespect. Today, Gary knows just about all there is to know about thesteel business… and then some! From administration and sales, to onsiteerection, Gary has not only done it, he has done it with excellenceevery step of the way. Gary attributes much of the company’s success andhis rise toPresident and CEOof Cooper Steel to the unending love andtrust of his parents. "Their confidence and encouragement has allowed usall to move forward into a whole new way of doing business, and it'sworking!" he says.
Gary has been the top dog at Cooper since 1988. Unfortunatly due to a car accident that year that resulted in a broken back for his Dad, Gary was now at the helm and his leadership hastaken the company from a respectable volume of $500,000.00 to more than $100,000,000.00 today. Gary's parents had groomed him for this challenge his whole life and when the time came he was able to answer the call. Each and every day Gary is totally engaged in every estimate and project from start to finish. "Customer service will always be paramount for the men and women at Cooper Steel in delivering customer satisfaction, this is what we believe and this is what we do". The value system instilled by his parents continue to be a source of strength to this day.
J. Kenneth Cooper
"It was always important to me that Cooper Steel be a family company. We worked hard from the beginning to build it that way. When you're with Cooper, you're with family."
James Kenneth Cooper was born in Bedford County, Tennessee on October 7, 1932. At the age of five, he suffered an 85% hearing loss from surgery to remove tonsils and adenoids. He attended schools in Bedford County. As a result of his hearing disability and with very little help for the hearing impaired, he quit school in the tenth grade.
He began to work summer jobs at the age of twelve including a rock crusher. When he turned 18, he got a job at the Florence Stove Company in Lewisburg and worked there until an economic downturn resulted in his layoff in 1957. That setback turned into great opportunity when he enrolled and completed the welding curriculum at the very reputable Nashville Auto Diesel College. This educational achievement lead to a job at the Uniroyal plant in Shelbyville and a fateful moonlighting opportunity.
Specifically, the shift at Uniroyal was from 6:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., so he bought a truck and welding machine and started a moonlighting welding business that he worked afternoons, evenings, and weekends. In 1960, he gave up his "day job" and opened Cooper Steel (then called Cooper Welding and Steel Erection). He has served as President throughout its history. In 1988 he was in a car accident that broke his back, after healing from the accident he oversaw the erection part of the business until the mid 90's when he reduced his hours to part-time. If you go to the plant today he still comes around to look for improvement to process and quality of the product because he still has that passion for the steel business. Without James Kenneth Cooper, there is no Cooper Steel.
He married the former Faye Waggoner in 1952, and they celebrated 60 years of marriage in March of 2012. He has two sons, Barry and Gary, who are full-time officers of the company. He also has six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He remains active at Edgemont Baptist Church and in various food distribution programs and other benevolent activities in Shelbyville.
Faye Cooper (1934-2014)
Co-Founder, Corporate Secretary
"Cooper Steel has been an integral part of my life since shortly after Kenneth and I married. It's been a pleasure of mine to watch the company grow and succeed over the years"
Faye Cooper was born Faye Waggoner on August 29, 1934 in Lincoln County, Tennessee. She grew up in a very large family. As the oldest daughter in a family where both parents worked full-time jobs, she found herself attending to her siblings beginning at the age of twelve. She had three brother and two sisters to attend to.
She graduated from Central High School in 1952, and married Kenneth Cooper that same year. She is the mother of Barry and Gary Cooper. As soon as both sons were in school, she learned bookkeeping from the company’s outside CPA, and began work as the Secretary/Treasurer in 1965. As the company grew, she ran the office operation until 1990. She reduced her working hours to part-time during the 1990s and remains Corporate Secretary of the company.
Her office management skills and the addition of purchasing to her job duties for the first three decades of the business enabled Kenneth Cooper to spend as much time as needed away from the office meeting customers and either erecting steel (in the 1960’s) or attending to the steel erection function in the 1970’s and beyond. As the buyer for the company she worked every penny out of every steel purchase. The vendors that came calling knew they better have "the Price", because she was tough but totally fair and honest. With her, there was no shopping prices, you needed to have your ducks in a row. Her values were taught to the family and today Cooper Steel carries on Mrs. Faye's honest no shopping culture. Without her impact on the family and business the Cooper brand would not of stood the test of time and be a leader in the Steel community for some fifty years and beyond.
Nurturing children (and her husband) by being a great homemaker was a great source of satisfaction for Faye when she was not working at the company. She also enjoyed teaching adult women’s Sunday School classes at Edgemont Baptist Church for many years until she retired from teaching in 2012 due to health issues. She also enjoys “grandmothering” and “great-grandmothering” the six grandchildren (five of whom are now adults) and the five great-grandchildren when she has opportunity.