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Clyde Strickland From Farm to Founder (Part 1)

“Not many people realize that Metro-Waterproofing was first incorporated in Gwinnett County, but it was,” says founder Clyde L. Strickland.

Clyde L. Strickland is the founder of Metro Waterproofing one of the most successful companies serving the construction industry in the Southeastern United States today. The company excels in everything from new construction waterproofing and total building restoration to routine maintenance and leak repairs. The company, now led by Ken Strickland as President, is also known for its strong work culture for employees. Ask anyone in a Metro Waterproofing truck or someone in the office and they will tell you the company strives to make every employee feel like part of their family, and every customer as a partner in their mission to help create better lives for anyone that might engage with them. The company is one of the most philanthropic in the Gwinnett community and is constantly looking for new ways to make a better America by doing good for all people.

But don’t you know all this already? There are countless stories over the years involving the Strickland’s and their families’ efforts to do good in Gwinnett and America. From building “The Strickland Heart Center” at Northside Hospital Gwinnett to helping to bring back “Made In The USA” labeling on domestic products, to countless other meaningful moments in recent history, the story could be a book. Oh, wait a minute it is a book! In 2017, Clyde put the final touches on his second memoir, “What Can I Do?” Which tells the story of what’s possible when a man decides to follow God.

We recently sat down with Clyde to talk about his journey from a sharecropper’s son to the founder of this multi-million dollar company.

“This really is a rags to riches story, all because over time I learned to trust God.” Clyde states with confidence and authority.

Clyde was born in Selma, NC in 1939.  His father Frank was a farmer and a sharecropper in this small southern farming town.  His loving mother Vara, cooked, cleaned, sewed, quilted, and canned food that was raised.  She did all she could to take care of him and the other four siblings.  As a share cropper’s youngest son, he only went to school as often as the crops allowed him.  Most days the farm’s seemingly endless chores required Clyde’s attention and kept him in the field.  He was always glad to see Sunday come.  “We were so poor, we didn’t know what poor was.” Clyde remembers.

He quit school in the 10th Grade and at the age of sixteen Clyde left home and worked various jobs. “One of my first jobs was working for Wilber Hardee who founded Hardee Hamburger and he taught me alot about business and life and also how to cook the best steaks and chicken in the world.” Clyde shares with pride.

He joined the US Army at the age of 19.  He served three years being stationed in Germany for two and a half of those years. Clyde applied himself, worked hard and took advantage of his resources, attended school in the military and received his GED. Then, after being Honorably Discharged, Clyde moved to Tarboro, NC and became employed with Glenoit Textile Mills as a Technical Machine Mechanic. 

Here he met the love of his life, Sandra, working at her Dad’s Produce Market during summer school break.  They dated one year and married right after she graduated.

This is really the moment Clyde says his life began, “I did everything I could to make money honest and I had a knack for finding opportunities.” Clyde was transferred to Wamsutta Knitting Industries, in Morganton, NC then he was transferred to Borg Manufacturing Co. in Rossville, Ga. Later he then partnered with Sandra’s Dad as a Trucking & Produce Broker.  After various other jobs he went to work for Holbrook Waterproofing Company in Charlotte, NC. It was at Holbrook Waterproofing that he found an industry he felt he could revolutionize.

He transferred to Georgia in January 1969 to start Holbrook Waterproofing Company of Georgia for his employer. Of course, now seeing what was possible and after being ignored when it came down to the profit sharing… Clyde decided to strike out on his own. Clyde had moved his family to Gwinnett County and decided they weren’t going anywhere. They lived 2 years in Duluth and moved to Lawrenceville June 1, 1971, where they have lived for 40 years.

January 13, 1972, at the age of 32, Clyde Strickland founded his own corporation in the State of Georgia, by the superior court of Gwinnett – naming it Metro Water-proofing, Inc.  In 40 years it has grown from 4 employees to approximately 240 employees and is now the largest restoration and waterproofing corporation in the southeast.

Interested in more of this story? Hear it all from Clyde L. Strickland himself, in part 1 of a series with this Gwinnett County founder, philanthropist, legacy and legend on The Gwinnett Podcast.