William Houston Blount has had a long and remarkable record of achievement and leadership in the corporate world and in many facets of community life. He was born in Union Springs in Bullock County, Alabama, on January 3, 1922, one of the sons of Winton M. Blount, Sr., and Clara Belle Chalker Blount. He attended Union Springs High School and Staunton Military Academy before entering the business school at The University of Alabama in 1940 where he completed his sophomore year before enlisting in the United States Navy Air Corps after the onset of World War II. Within one year, he had received his wings. (In that same year – 1943 – he married Frances Dean of Birmingham, Alabama. They are the parents of three daughters and two sons: Barbara (Viar); Beverly (McNeil); Frances (Kansteiner); William Houston, Jr.; and David.) Houston Blount later (in 1959) continued his education at Harvard in the Advanced Management Program.
After discharge from the service, he began his corporate career as a partner in Blount Brothers Corporation based in Montgomery, Alabama (now Blount, Inc., of which he is still a director). Between 1946 and 1957, he was President and Director of Southeastern Sand & Gravel Company of Tallassee, Alabama, and Vice President of Southern Cen-Vi-Ro Pipe Corporation of Birmingham.
In 1957, he began his thirty-five-year association with Vulcan Materials Company, as the President of the Concrete Pipe Division. His astute business and leadership skills led to a rapid rise up the corporate ladder. Within two years he had been named Corporate Vice President, Marketing, and a Director and then to Executive Vice President, Construction Materials Group, a member of the Executive Committee, and a Director.
By 1977, he had become President and Chief Executive Officer of Vulcan Materials Company, as well as a member of the Executive and Finance Committees and a Director. By 1983, he had become Chairman of the Board, retaining his positions as CEO, member of the Executive and Finance Committee, and Director. In 1992, he became Chairman of the Board Emeritus.
Throughout his rise up the corporate ladder, Houston Blount fostered growth in Vulcan Materials Company. The company today is the largest producer of construction aggregates in the United States (crushed stone and a diversified line of aggregates and construction materials necessary for highways, public works projects, housing offices, and stores). The company is also recognized as one of the nation’s leading producers of basic industrial chemicals.
Vulcan’s customers are now served by 129 stone quarries, three chemical plants, and approximately 127 other production and distribution facilities. The construction materials and chemical “Segments also operate advanced research and development laboratories in Birmingham, Alabama, and in Wichita, Kansas. After Houston Blount became Chairman of the Board Emeritus in 1992, the current Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vulcan Materials stated in the company’s annual report that Houston Blount’s “contributions to the Board during the years he served as a member and his leadership as Chairman have had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the company. He was instrumental in attracting to the Board highly competent and respected leaders from industry, academia, and the public sector.”
Houston Blount has also fostered the development of the community and state by his contributions of time, support, and expertise to many of the facets vital to the welfare of citizens.
For example, he still serves on the Board of Directors of the: Alabama School of Arts Foundation; Birmingham Area Council, the Boy Scouts of America; Birmingham Football Foundation; Eye Foundation Hospital; University of Alabama Health Services Foundation; and the Friends of Psychiatry, the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Birmingham Museum of Art, and he is a member and past Chairman of the Board of Birmingham-Southern College. He is co-chairman of the Birmingham Plan, a corporate and civic project to increase participation by women and minorities in the city’s economic development.
He is also chairman of the Management Improvement Program initiated by Alabama’s governor. In 1987, he was appointed Chairman of the Alabama State Docks Advisory Committee and, in 1989, a member of the Advisory Committee for Mental Health and Mental Retardation. In 1991, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Heritage Trust Fund.
In addition to serving on boards of organizations vital to the well-being of a well rounded community, Houston Blount has been active in fund-raising efforts for these essential components.
For example, he has been a catalyst in fund raising for the American Cancer Society; the Baptist Medical Center; the Arthritis Foundation; the Children’s Hospital; the Heart Hospital; the March of Dimes; and the United Way.
He has also helped raise funds for the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; Birmingham-Southern College; and the University of the South. He has been active in fund drives for the Birmingham Area Alliance of Business (TOPS Program); for Junior Achievement; Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs; Boy Scouts of America; Cahaba Scout Council; YMCA; and the National Council of Christians and Jews. He received the Silver Beaver and the Silver Antelope awards from the Boy Scouts of America.
He is a member of Canterbury United Methodist Church in Mountain Brook and serves on its Administrative Board. He formerly served on Canterbury’s Board of Stewards and Finance Committee. He is a member of the Rotary Club and former chairman of its Membership Committee. He is a member and past chairman of the board of the Ethics Resource Center, Washington, D. C.
He serves on the Distribution Committee of the Greater Birmingham Foundation and on the Allocation Committee of the Hugh Kaul Foundation. He is also a member of the Finance Committee for the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association; and he and Mrs. Blount co-chair the Planning Committee for Stratford Hall, the ancestral home of the Lees of Virginia. He also serves on the board of the VF Corporation.
For his multi-faceted contributions, Houston Blount has been recognized by State and local groups. In 1981, he was elected to the Alabama Academy of Honor. He has been awarded two honorary Doctor of Laws degrees – by Birmingham-Southern College in 1983 and by the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1987.
In 1984, he was the recipient of the Greater Birmingham Community Service award.
In 1986, he was the recipient of two honors. The Alabama Chapter of the National Society of Fund-raising Executives named him co recipient of the 1986 Outstanding Philanthropist Award. And the Oxmoor Chapter of the American Business Women’s Association chose him as Employer of the Year.
In April 1993, he received the Entrepreneurial Award at the third College of Commerce and Business Administration Alumni Reunion and Awards Banquet at the Capstone, his alma mater. He was cited for the use of his expertise in the development of a thriving business.
Houston Blount has retired from his corporate life but not from his active participation in the many facets of community life. He continues to serve.