Building Businesses, Building Community

January 12, 2024 | Written by: Campbell Wheby

lee county athletic park groundbreaking. a group digging in the dirt with shovels

Positive economic growth, like that currently being experienced in Sanford and Lee County, brings many benefits: new and better-paying job opportunities, expanded tax base and lower taxes, and increased capacity to invest in amenities like new parks and recreational facilities. Attendance at last month’s highly successful groundbreaking clearly demonstrated the eagerness of our community for the arrival of one such facility, the long-anticipated Lee County Athletic Park.

As excitement builds and local traveling sports parents look forward to weekends closer to home, the dirt continues to be moved to support a facility that will positively impact the lives of local children for years to come. And in the case of the Lee County Athletic Park, the people and machines moving that dirt have a very familiar look…

Moving dirt has been an important and honorable occupation in Lee County for generations, whether spinning clay for pots, forming shale clay into bricks or grading construction sites. One local company moves dirt better than almost anyone else in the business. Family-owned and operated, with an unwavering commitment to their employees’ safety and well-being, Sanford Contractors has been preparing sites and constructing many of the structures you pass by every day for many decades. The Lee County Athletic Park will be the next in a very long line of successful projects completed by Sanford Contractors since their founding in 1969.

The company has grown dramatically since it was founded by Norman T. Oldham and three investors 54 years ago, and Sanford Contractors now performs a full array of construction services, including site preparation and grading, design and build, bridge construction and utility installation on large commercial and public projects in communities throughout the Southeast. With over 250 employees, some boasting careers spanning multiple decades with the company, the company lives up to their “employees like family” principle. Sanford Contractors values building people and careers, and employees’ various board memberships and active community engagement are evidence that this commitment is working.

Sanford Contractors is not only committed to the success of their company and their employees; they are also deeply committed to the sustained, long-term success of their community. In addition to positive impact of their work on the Lee County Athletic Park and other local projects, they are founding investors in the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, and they have partnered in countless education and youth-related programs over the years. Most recently, they have created a pre-apprenticeship program with CCCC and Lee County Schools which builds meaningful skills for youth and features a model development path for a construction career. The Sanford Contractors Construction Academy is a partnership to be proud of and offers a template for other potential career and workforce development efforts to follow.

As the Sanford Area Growth Alliance works to support existing businesses and attract new jobs and investment, we are fortunate to have quality community partners like Sanford Contractors to join us in that effort. The fruits of that shared commitment to quality are amplified in the folk wisdom passed down to Sanford Contractors’ President, Donald T. Oldham, by his father Norman:

“If you do good work, you’ll always have something to do.”

Simple, proven, and true.

Stay tuned to this column for more stories of Sanford and Lee County businesses and the good work that they do.

Crystal Gaddy, Business Retention and Expansion Manager