Sonny Underwood was inducted into the STI/SPFA Hall of Fame in 1997. We recently had an opportunity to talk with Sonny about his career in the steel fabrication industry, challenges he faced along the way, and advice he would give to the next generation.

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STI/SPFA: How did you get started in the industry?

Sonny Underwood: I’m a second-generation owner. My dad actually was with the company when it started in 1954. And then obviously after I went through school, college, military, I started working for the company. I’ve been doing that ever since.

The big change in regulations came in 1988 when the federal government got into regulating underground storage tanks. At that point in time, things changed.

With my relationship with STI, which got better because STI was the leading factor in keeping up with the regulations, educating the regulators in Washington, D.C., mainly the EPA, on what underground tanks were all about.

STI/SPFA: What has been your biggest challenge?

Underwood: Biggest challenge in my industry and this industry is keeping up with the regulations, and the ongoing change with regulations in both types of underground and aboveground storage tanks we manufacture.

It’s been a good journey. I think we work well with the Office of Underground Storage Tanks, and I think they understand us and we understand them.

STI/SPFA: What is the proudest moment of your career?

Underwood: Basically, what I’ve contributed to the industry. I’ve been president of a couple associations, probably the two largest associations in this industry. And the contribution that I’ve made with time and resources, I think it’s directed this industry in a good direction.

It’s certainly been an honor for me to be president of STI and a big honor for me to be elected to the Hall of Fame of STI back in the 1990s, so those are things that I’m particularly proud of.

STI/SPFA: What advice would you give to the next generation?

Underwood: Well, the next group coming up, you have to keep up with the regulators both locally and nationally, because if you don’t, your business could be regulated out of business.

I think that I have given my time and resources to STI. I think they’ve appreciated that through the decades now.

STI/SPFA: What do you want your legacy to be?

Underwood: My legacy, I don’t think about that when I get up in the morning. I am what I am. Most people recognize that. Sonny Underwood was the guy that kept us on track, that didn’t let us get off on some kind of tangent that was not meaningful to the association. We stayed focused when we were under his regime.

STI/SPFA: What has STI/SPFA meant to you?

Underwood: The fact that STI has worked so close with regulators through the years; very beneficial not only to the association but to every fabrication member that’s in STI.

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Published Date

February 19, 2024

Malta Dynamics