VOL. 127 | NO. 29 | Monday, February 13, 2012
SPECIAL EMPHASIS: Construction
Hedgepeth’s Work Intersects With Council Role
By RICHARD J. ALLEY
A Memphian born and raised, Reid Hedgepeth takes great pride in his city’s institutions, whether they be the tangible of medicine and education, or the more intangible of sports and politics.
The District 9 Memphis City Council member and owner of Hedgepeth Construction attended Christian Brothers High School and the University of Memphis where he played football and majored in sales marketing.
Sales, he says, enters into play no matter the job.
“You’ve still got to be able to sell something to somebody,” he said. “You put your bid in, you’ve got to be in the price range that they want to spend, or the cheapest price, but they’ve still got to feel comfortable with you and know that you can get the job done and succeed in it. You’ve got to be able to sell the job.”
He owned a landscape company, Hedgepeth Lawnscapes, through college and credits working with his father-in-law, Robert Durbin, owner of his own construction business, with his interest in the field.
At only 26 years old, Hedgepeth began his own company and now employs three and has worked on jobs ranging from the Saint Francis Hospital outpatient centers to custom homes to new residential. With the sliding residential real estate market the past few years, he’s focused more of his attention and resources on commercial construction.
His knowledge of construction and real estate has helped him immensely with his time spent on the county’s Land Use Control Board followed by a seat on the City Council. His council run began after a series of conversations with then-councilman Jack Sammons.
Sammons, Hedgepeth said, told him it was time “for the younger generation to step up and start taking roles in our city.”
He was 29 years old, one of the youngest on the council, when he was first elected.
“The first six months it was a lot to swallow and a lot to take in; after that you kind of get into the routine of going over your material, what material to really study hard, what are going to be the very important issues that you need to be updated on,” Hedgepeth said. “And also being out in the community and listening to what the people who elected you, what they want seen done in our neighborhoods or our businesses or communities.”
But he’s caught on quickly and brings his knowledge on infrastructure, equipment and construction to the table when looking, especially at issues regarding public works, and specifically projects such as the proposed redevelopment of Overton Square and recruitment of Electrolux and its 1,200 jobs.
“Something that we have lacked in the past is that we haven’t competed, I don’t think, as well as we could have with the communities around us,” Hedgepeth said. “It’s something that we have really worked hard on, to be more competitive, because the only way we start producing more tax dollars and putting our people back to work is winning out these companies to choose to come to Memphis, Tennessee, versus North Mississippi or Arkansas.”
An architect who spent 21 years on the council, Tom Marshall is probably best suited to understand where Hedgepeth’s strengths lie.
“There’s a lot about construction that comes before the City Council, so Reid is a huge asset to that,” he said. “He’s an extraordinarily patient person, he listens, he doesn’t assign judgment early on and then blow everybody out with his opinion, he listens to everybody.”
His commitment to Memphis was born of more specific commitments to organizations that help define the city. Having played football for the University of Memphis, the program is still a great source of pride for Hedgepeth and it was his patience that was an asset when he volunteered his time to be the point person for the lessors during the construction of Tiger Lane outside Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
“It was something that I was pretty passionate about to help the university out and get us a world-class tailgating facility,” he said.
Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital became another cause close to his heart when his daughter became ill unexpectedly last October. Now healthy and with all of that behind her, Hedgepeth nevertheless was left with strong feelings for the institution and its mission.
“When you see what they can do, our local hospitals, it really makes you want to give back and do everything in your power to help them and volunteer and be involved,” he said.
He’s optimistic in the new year for his company.
“Things are picking back up and we think 2012 is going to be a good year for us,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of projects on the rise.”
Hedgepeth and his wife, Riley, are raising their son and daughter in the city and his optimism for work and family, naturally, carries over to his work on the council and his city in general for the future.
“We’re going to have a tough budget this year,” he said, “but I think after we get through this budget and these jobs that we’ve invested heavily in start happening, then we are definitely in a position to grow as city.”