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Logging some tall orders.

Hi-Tech Engineering Of Hot Springs Carries On Following Loss Of CEO

A key personnel loss is never easy for a company to overcome.

Hi-Tech Engineering Inc.'s recent loss was of even a more personal nature. It was a loss that left the Hot Springs company without one of its founders.

John Fletcher, the chief executive officer of the consulting engineering and manufacturing firm, was killed Oct. 25 in an automobile accident.

Fletcher was replaced shortly afterward by L.C. Gaither, the company's other founding partner.

"He was the boss, he was our long-term planner and our primary leader," says Gaither, a longtime friend of Fletcher's.

The company's other three partners are Pat Conry, Russell Kennedy and Chris Raybon.

"He trained three of us, and he was a very good friend of L.C.," Raybon says of Fletcher. "We had become an adopted family of sorts. It was like losing a close member of your family."

Formed by Fletcher and Gaither in October 1988 to serve the forest products industry, Hi-Tech quickly added two partners, Conry and Kennedy. Both were employees of Hemco, a competing company in Hot Springs.

Raybon, who held a sales position with Hemco, came aboard in 1989.

The four remaining executives have more than 70 years of experience in the timber industry. That has helped the company achieve success in a short period of time.

"We have a lot of industry contacts," Raybon says.

Two-Fold Job

Hi-Tech consults with lumber firms on the design of sawmills. It also manufactures sawmill machinery.

Hi-Tech's largest customer is Louisiana Pacific Corp., which has accounted for almost $2 million in revenues.

However, Southern Lumber Co. of Mississippi is making strides toward becoming Hi-Tech's biggest customer with its recent purchase of a system that includes a laser/camera optimizer, trimmer, sorter, stacker and edger.

The optimizer represents state-of-the-art technology. It utilizes a laser to produce computer images from rough-sawn logs. Lumber dimensions are taken from the image, allowing a mill to have a minimum amount of waste.

Hi-Tech's plans include construction of another facility in the next two years. The company leases its fabrication facility on Lakeshore Drive and has offices elsewhere in Hot Springs. The new plant will combine operations, Raybon says.
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Title Annotation:Arkansas Business of the Year: Category II; Hi-Tech Engineering Inc. provides services to lumber firms
Author:Taylor, Tim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Jan 13, 1992
Words:372
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