S T Bunn, Sr. was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1917. Tragically, his mother died when he was five years old and he lived with different aunts and uncles until his adolescent years.
Bunn dropped out of school in the fourth grade and started doing odd jobs to help support himself. One such job was sweeping floors at Central Foundry in Holt, Alabama, a suburb of Tuscaloosa.
In 1937 he borrowed enough money to buy a used dump truck.
S T married Irene Hocutt in 1938 and bought his second dump truck the same year. In the early years he would haul anything he could. For instance, he used to buy coal in Brookwood and haul it to places like Camden and Linden and sell it door to door and then buy watermelons and bring them back to Tuscaloosa and sell them door to door.
When the United States entered World War II he secured some defense contracts to haul raw material, and do some site preparation work throughout the duration of the war. One such contract was with Central Foundry, which was making mortar shells; the very same place he had swept floors as a child.
After the war, Bunn turned to road construction to keep his fleet of six or eight trucks busy.
In 1946, he bought an asphalt distributor which changed the course of his life from a trucker to a contractor. In the late 40’s he started paving city streets with cold mix that he received by rail from Birmingham and New Orleans.
Work for a road contractor was not as plentiful then as now. Bunn did just about everything to stay busy.
His construction company graded sites, laid pipe, built catch basins, curb and gutter work, he even moved a house once, but asphalt work was his true love and thus that was the direction the company went.
The farm to market road program brought base and surface treatment work in the 1950s and 1960s. Highway construction certainly represented a major portion of his work, but he also was involved in commercial and residential projects.
In 1971, Bunn purchased his first asphalt plant. Competition for asphalt work was fierce in those days as there were as many as four asphalt plants in Tuscaloosa at one time.
Bunn continued to grow and by the time he retired, another asphalt plant was added. He was a pioneer in the design of permeable asphalt, a design he came up with to use under Monsanto’s permeable Astroturf and then used by them in other areas of the country.
He sold his construction business to his two sons, Terry and Sonny in 1981, lending advice and demanding quality work because as he told his sons often, “That’s still my name on those truck doors”.
Mr. Bunn left a legacy of not worrying about being the biggest asphalt company, just the very best one in West Alabama. He was well known for his quality of work, honesty and being a man of his word. He did a tremendous amount of work on just a handshake. He had a quick wit and sometimes a quick temper.
With his trademark handshake with only two fingers on his hand, he had the vision to see himself being successful even when he was sweeping floors at the age of ten. He came a long way from one old Ford dump truck that he used to say he drove all day and worked on all night, to the largest asphalt company in West Alabama when he retired.