Chattanooga-based Astec Industries marks 50th anniversary with $1 million scholarship named for founder

Contributed Photo by Astec Industries / Barry Ruffalo, the CEO of Astec Industries, rings the bell Tuesday to start trading on the Nasdaq exchange. Chattanooga-based Astec Industries celebrated its 50th anniversary Tuesday. The company has been traded on a Nasdaq stock since 1986.

A half century ago, J. Don Brock gathered with a handful of his friends to plot out what has become one of the world's biggest asphalt equipment manufacturers.

Around the kitchen table of one of his high school classmates, Gail Mize, Brock brainstormed the idea of Astec Industries along with Norm Smith, Al Guth and Mike Uchytil. Brock, who began welding at age 8 at his father's Industrial Boiler Co. in Bakewell and invented a carpet-dying machine as part of his college thesis, plotted with his friends a five-year business plan.

The venture was launched Aug. 9, 1972, as Astec Industries - a shortened version of asphalt technology, which the group was convinced it could develop and serve the growing road paving industry.

From its start with just five employees and $400,000 of borrowed funds, Astec has grown into a global, billion-dollar manufacturer of equipment for road building and construction related projects.