Robert Mercado heads on to a job site at Vernor Material and Equipment in Freeport.

Established in 1958 by Kelso Vernor, Vernor Material and Equipment Co. has grown from a few dump trucks parked in the front yard of their home in Clute to a major force in the growth of local industry.

Kelso decided to start his own small business, first known as Kelso Vernor Trucking Co., because there was a union strike at the time and he was out of a job. He needed to do something to provide for his family. Somehow, Kelso and his wife raised five kids and started a new business. Now a fit 87 years young, Kelso is retired and enjoying life, watching the family he once worried about supporting take the company to greatness.

Company President and CEO Kenny Vernor started working for the company during summers, on weekends and over school holidays when he was 10 years old.

"My first job was repairing tires on big trucks," he said. "Sometimes on my lunch break I would cover for heavy equipment operators."

And so, his career began, later working in the plants, then in sales. He soon got involved with IT.

"I think that was the first time I even turned on a computer, but I learned a lot about technology and how important it was to the company," he said.

He had other things to learn on his way to leading the company, Kenny Vernor said.

"Dad never thought about a succession plan and he was, still is,

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