Smith-Midland honors our associates and founder

March 10, 2020 | Associate / Plant News

In late February the entire Smith-Midland Virginia family gathered to celebrate the work anniversaries of their fellow associates. Of special note was the six decades of service from Smith-Midland co-founder Rodney Smith. Matthew Smith (30 years), Dale Brooks (25 years) and Willie Riley (25 years) were also specially recognized for their dedication over so many years of service. A special invitee to this year’s event was past associate and life-long supporter, friend and family member of Smith-Midland, Merry Robin Bachetti.


Every associate honored was met with heartfelt appreciation from their co-workers at a special luncheon held for all at the Smith-Midland facility. A letter from each of their supervisors or peers was read to the gathering, extoling their benefit to the company and the lives of their fellow associates (see each below). A wonderful meal was shared and memories made.

Rodney Smith – 60 Years (CEO Ashley Smith presenting)

WOW! 60 years! What more can we say? Rodney, along with his dad, David G. Smith started Smith-Midland in 1960. From humble beginnings on the family farm selling cattleguards to today, with manufacturing plants in 3 States and over 60 plants around the country and internationally, making products that Rodney developed, he has made his mark on the precast concrete industry and on the lives of many people. What you see when you drive into the Smith-Midland plant and when you drive around our area and see the many projects that were made at Smith-Midland are all because of his “never give up, and never give in attitude”. He has many favorite sayings including “persistence pays”, “those who can take it make it”, and “attention to detail is the religion of success”. We strive to live up to these words every day at Smith-Midland. And to honor and steward the company and legacy that Rodney and David built. Thank you for everything you’ve taught us and thank you for the opportunity to make this world a better place through the products that we make and the example of hard work and service to our community and those around us. – Ashley Smith

Matthew Smith – 30 Years

Matthew is one of the most persistent people you will meet. One time a customer said, “Matthew I gave you the project, so you’d quit calling me”! He is a great salesperson and has and outgoing personality and quick smile that makes it easy for him to meet and develop rapport with our clients. Matthew encourages everyone around him to be better and to look for ways to find and eliminate waste, saving Smith-Midland money and making us more competitive. He is involved in his community and serves in many leadership positions. Thank you, Matthew, for all you do to make everything that you touch better. – Ashley Smith

Dale Brooks – 25 Years

Congratulations to you on reaching your 25th anniversary with Smith-Midland. Your loyalty and dedication to Smith-Midland and our customers is greatly appreciated and does not go unnoticed. We value your expertise in loading barrier, manholes and other yard duties. The quality of your work makes you a great team member. Whether it is day or night, you are dedicated to finding a way to get deliveries completed. Outside of work, Dale enjoys working on his farm and mowing grass. He also takes time to watch NASCAR races on Sundays. DALE BROOKS – THANK YOU! – Bucky Whitmer

Willie Riley – 25 Years

Willie started as a patcher, next he went to road crew to install Sound Wall, and then came back as the “right-hand man” of the Architectural plant supervisor, and eventually Willie became the Supervisor of the Architectural Plant. Willie is one of most experienced people in SlenderWall production. 12 years ago, Willie decided to challenge himself in the forms fabrication field, and within a short time became the Supervisor of the Carpentry Shop. Every day he uses his skills and experience to design and fabricate forms. Willie shares his knowledge to train and develop his team. He is always open to share his experience and gives good advice to coworkers. He is very a responsible person and always gets the job done safely and with good quality. Outside of work, Willie has a beautiful family. His son is just about to graduate from high school. A few years ago, Willie became a grandfather and he enjoys spending time with his grandson. Thank you, Willie for your hard work! – Sergei Samoilenka

Sergei Samoilenka – 15 Years

Sergei started here 15 years ago after working for Moffette and Mary Tharpe at Concrete Safety Systems in Bethel, Pennsylvania. Sergei’s education and experience made him a great addition to the Smith-Midland team. It was clear early on that Sergei had the potential to succeed at SMC. In his early days here, Sergei’s “passion” earned him the nickname “The Mad Russian”. Today, even though he hasn’t lost any of the passion that he brings to his work, Sergei would tell you that today he doesn’t lead the same way as he did when he started here. He can’t be called “The Mad Russian” anymore. Over the years Sergei took on more and more responsibility. He was always ready to accept the next challenge. When faced with a new challenge, at first Sergei would say I don’t know how we can do it. Then, he would go away, think about the problem, and then he would come back and say, “I think we figured out a way to get it done.” Sergei is popular with his fellow associates. I believe it’s because he cares about those that he works with and his sly sense of humor. You always know when Sergei is telling a joke or getting ready to say something funny because he gets a “sly grin” on his face. – Ashley Smith

George Sharikas – 15 Years

George has been on the Sales team at Smith-Midland since 2004. George worked his way up the ladder to become the sales manager of the Utility Products Division in 2008. His unique personality has won him over to our customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic. Some of George’s more well-known projects include rental barrier for the Pope’s visits in Washington, DC and Philadelphia; political conventions including Charlotte, Tampa, Cleveland and Philadelphia; and several inaugurations including our largest one in 2017. Other nice projects that George sold include the custom barrier for the Severn River Bridge, the custom White House security barrier and the award-winning retaining wall project at the National Zoo. Thank you, George for your humor and your dedication to Smith-Midland. – Matthew Smith

Moffette Tharpe – 15 Years

Through the years, your talents have helped our success. We at Easi-Set take great pride in your guidance, accomplishments and your commitment to excellence. We applaud the professionalism, determination, passion and effort you have demonstrated during the past 15 years. On your 15th anniversary with the company, we want you to know what a pleasure it is to work with someone so driven and dedicated as you are. Thank you for all the contributions you have made in making Easi-Set successful. Happy Anniversary and from all of us, congratulations! – Art Miles

Rafael Madera – 10 Years

He started working at Smith-Midland on December 18, 2009 and was placed in the casting crew where he has remained ever since. You can always depend on him to complete any task assigned. He is hands down our best Finisher. He’s even stepped up his game and has become certified in running the overhead crane. We wish we had 20 more associates just like him. Thank you for your years of service and dedication. – Tony Sacra

Chet Gnagey – 5 Years

Chet is the Safety Manager who has supported all 3 of our locations during the past 5 years. Chet is always the first one on the scene to assist with the security and safety of our associates. His extensive training and knowledge have led the company to multiple safety awards. We value Chet and appreciate his willingness to lead our safety culture. – AJ Krick

Chris Grogan – 5 Years

Chris came to Smith-Midland as our Business Development Manager 5 years ago with an extensive background in precast concrete sales. He quickly earned respect from his peers because of his professionalism and technical knowledge. Some of Chris’ projects include heavy architectural projects, Norfolk Airport Parking Garage and East Campus Bldg. 3 that we recently won. Some of his SlenderWall projects include Tysons, Port Imperial and 800 Harbor. Be looking for more SlenderWall projects coming in because of Chris’ hard work. Thanks, Chris! – Matthew Smith

AJ Krick – 5 Years

AJ brings energy and smarts to Smith-Midland in his role as CFO. He has uncovered many things that the company was overpaying for, and he went after refunds which totaled up to tens of thousands of dollars back to the company. He is passionate about making small daily improvements in the accounting department and with his leadership we can hold up the accounting team as one of the departments in the company that is living out the phrase “fix what bugs you”. AJ and the rest of accounting have been open to sharing what they’ve been doing and what has worked for them as they started down the road of continuous improvement. AJ and Vaughn were recently asked to fly to Reno, Nevada to speak in front of 60 people at Jensen Precast; the largest independent precast company and the U.S. They spoke about what we were we’re doing at Smith-Midland to change the way the precast concrete industry runs its businesses. Eric Jensen told me that the talk by AJ and Vaughn was the highlight of their 2-day meeting and he was impressed by how far ahead Smith-Midland was compared to the rest of our industry. Thank you, AJ, for sharing part of our story with other precasters and helping make a mark on making our industry better than it is today. And, thank you for your leadership at Smith-Midland and helping to make us “The Best Company in Town”. – Ashley Smith

Jose Moctezuma – 5 Years

Jose started with SMC in 2014 as laborer in the yard where he had the first contact with the precast concrete industry and learned quickly how to do general repair work on different concrete products SMC has to offer. After spending about 2 months with the yard crew he was elected by the building crew supervisor to join the crew. From day one he showed a high interest in how to assemble and finish the precast buildings. Due to his high interest in the work he once again learned very quickly the ins and outs of the trade and in less than 2 years he was elected to become the new crew leader. He took a supervisor course in 2019 and is always current on his certifications which include rigging certification, Osha 10, First Aid and CPR. As a role model in showing up for work and never hesitating to work the necessary hours to keep up with the always busy schedule he has become an integral member of the building crew. After Andrew Washington left he soon started to get involved with the door and hardware installation and has been installing doors ever since while still taking care of all his other duties. – Erwin Weidenlener

Steve Strawderman – 5 Years

Steve started 5 years ago in the carpentry shop. He is dedicated, hardworking and always coming up with good ideas to make production easier and faster. He is a vital part of our team. Thank you, Steve for your service and we are looking forward to working with you for many years to come. – Willie Riley

Cody Williams – 5 Years

Cody started with SMC 5 years ago last October. He quickly learned the ins and outs of the business. He began taking over our VDOT after 6 months and has been leading the way with the expansion of CSS. He has sold many projects that include Transform 66 with over 200,000 LF of barrier and the I-64 project that is around 50,000 LF (our largest rental project to date). We thank Cody for his 5 years of service and hope to have him here for many more years. – George Sharikas

Merry Robin Bachetti – Special Acknowledgement

Merry Robin is the daughter of David G. Smith, who founded Smith-Midland and the sister of Rodney Smith, our chairman. Over the years, Merry Robin has been a familiar face at the company gatherings. She worked at the company in human resources during the late eighties and early nineties. She worked with West Taylor and tried to keep him in line, which was hard to do. Today most of you all know her from the cakes she bakes for our monthly birthday lunches and for her fried chicken livers. And she still won’t give us her recipe for her famous “carrot cake”. Thank you, Merry Robin, for your support of the company and our associates over the years. – Ashley Smith