With an eye to the future, Roy Woodruff sent money home each month from his Army pay during World War II.
After his discharge, Roy went into business with his brother, Louis, and their father, William, hauling dirt and buying their first bulldozer with savings from his GI pay.
Eventually, Roy Woodruff bought out his father’s and brother’s interests, and he brought the company to new heights from its humble beginnings with his insistence on honesty, doing the job right and innovation.
Roy Woodruff died at age 86 in 2012. His children, Linda Wakeman, Don Woodruff and Bruce Woodruff, carry on the 70-year-old business with their father’s values.
Woodruff and Sons, founded in Michigan City, Ind., branched out to the Bradenton area in 1973.
“My dad brought us down here on vacation. I think he was tired of the cold,” Bruce Woodruff said.
Initially, the company located on Anna Maria Island and built sewers on the island.
“My dad said we were moving down here to slow down, but what we found was just the opposite. Our work just exploded,” Bruce Woodruff said.
For the past 23 years, Woodruff and Sons, Inc., has been located south of Bradenton at 6450 31st St. E., which is the company headquarters and hub for 200 employees, a maintenance facility with more than one acre under roof, and a recycling facility that crushes material from demolished buildings into road fill. The company also serves markets in northwest Indiana, southwest Michigan and Tampa.
Today, about two-thirds of Woodruff’s work is road and utility construction. The company is also a site development contractor in three states.
“Dad was one of 12 children and never finished high school. He was just a brilliant guy who had patents. He helped a lot of people in the industry,” Linda Wakeman said.
Notable projects Woodruff and Sons has tackled include improving 53rd Avenue West from 43rd Street West to 75th Street West, building White Eagle Boulevard at Lakewood Ranch, two phases of 44th Avenue expansion into East Manatee, and Del Tierra, a DR Horton community in East Bradenton.
The company is now working to extend four-lane Lorraine Road 2.3 miles south from University Parkway into Sarasota County for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch’s 2,000-acre Waterside development.
Woodruff also has the contract for extending Lakewood Ranch Boulevard to Fruitville Road in Sarasota, a project awaiting completion of right-of-way acquisition.
I am most proud of Dad’s legacy of honesty, hard work, and innovation that has earned Woodruff and Sons its respected reputation for doing the job right and finishing on time, and on budget.
Don, Bruce and Linda equally share leadership of the company, and they say titles mean little to them.
“We get along. We’re best friends,” Linda Wakeland said. “We have the same values dad instilled in us. We think of our employees as family.”
The siblings are the third generation of the family involved in Woodruff and Sons. A fourth generation, Linda’s son, Chad Wakeland, and her son-in-law, Matt Anderson, also are playing an active role. Anderson serves as project manager for the Lorraine Road project.
“We try to do the right thing in the community, and to do right by our employees,” Don Woodruff said.
Asked which of Woodruff’s projects he is most proud of, Don Woodruff replied, “All the projects.”
The Woodruff family says, however, that examples of their more complex projects include remediating a lead-contaminated wetland, building infrastructure for major developments, and highway improvements with large, deep sewer and storm drains.
The company’s goal is to do the work right the first time, Linda Wakeland said.
The company motto, developed by Roy Woodruff, continues to be relevant: “Take pride in your work, do it right the first time, and respect the other person and his property.”
Despite the company’s completion of a number of high-profile construction projects, the owners prefer to be low key in their work and in their community support. Among worthy causes they have supported are Safe Childrens Coalition, Meals on Wheels, Keep Manatee Beautiful and the American Red Cross.
“I am most proud of Dad’s legacy of honesty, hard work and innovation that has earned Woodruff and Sons its respected reputation for doing the job right and finishing on time, and on budget,” Don Woodruff said.