Blanchard Machinery CEO Chairman Joe Blanchard dies at 60: CEG

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Joseph Rozier Blanchard, president and CEO of Blanchard Machinery Company, died recently at the age of 60. (Picture Blanchard Machinery Company)


Joseph Rozier Blanchard, president and CEO of Blanchard Machinery Company, died recently at the age of 60.  (Picture Blanchard Machinery Company)
The construction industry in the Southeast lost a great and trusted friend on July 14 when Joseph Rozier Blanchard died at the age of 60.  (Picture Blanchard Machinery Company)

The construction industry in the Southeast lost a great and trusted friend on Thursday, July 14 when Joseph Rozier Blanchard, president and CEO of Blanchard Machinery Company in West Columbia, SC, died surrounded by his loved ones in his Charleston home following a brief battle with cancer.

Born in Winter Park, Florida on January 6, 1962, to George Robert Blanchard and Judith Katherine Rozier, Joe grew up with his three siblings in Tampa. As a child he worked in his grandfather’s machinery company, the Joseph L. Rozier Machinery Co., where he fell in love with the industry which was his lifelong career.

Upon moving to South Carolina in 1987, Joe was an invaluable asset to the state. A solid business leader since becoming president of Blanchard Machinery in 1996, he has not only grown the dealership to over 700 employees in 12 statewide locations, but has also had a lasting impact about South Carolina businesses and communities.

Joe started working with his father, Robert, running Blanchard Machinery Co. in 1987, a company originally started in Orlando, Florida by his grandfather in 1952. Robert Blanchard retired in 1996, he appointed his son as head of the company. service equipment dealer, and Joe Blanchard then brought in his two sons, Rozier and Boyd, to learn the ropes of the business.

Under their father, Rozier Blanchard serves the dealership as vice president of machine sales, while Boyd serves as the company’s vice president of product support.

Top builders considered Joe a friend

Joe was remembered by many of South Carolina’s top contractors and builders for his genuine friendliness, business acumen and steady hand in operating and expanding Blanchard Machinery to the point that many even turned to him for advice on their own businesses.

Jason Wilkie, Founder and President of JC Wilkie Construction in Lexington, SC, worked with Joe for two decades and found him to be a man ready and willing to answer questions about how to run a healthy business honestly.

“He was one of the greatest businessmen I have ever met,” Wilkie said. “By that I mean Joe built a really good team around him and made it a big success. But I’ll always remember when I started my business he offered me to sit down and go reviewed my finances with me. We also discussed ways to grow the business and be successful. It really meant a lot to me that he took the time to do that.

Wilkie also viewed Joe as “a fair man” who wanted his equipment dealer to be more of a partner to his customers than just a supplier.

While he freely helped young entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses, established clients also turned to Joe for his guidance and input.

This included Richard Jackson, a more experienced man than Joe. He runs CR Jackson Inc. of Columbia, one of the state’s leading paving companies.

“I just miss my good friend today,” Jackson said when contacted by CEG. “Joe Blanchard cared about every client, served us all with integrity, and always went the extra mile. When I had a major business transaction to do, I would go to Joe first for guidance and advices.”

His ability to set high standards for Blanchard Machinery has always impressed Jackson, he said, because the dealership has done business “in the right way” to better serve customers.

“[Joe’s] the whole team was well led, and I know they will continue to be well led in the future,” Jackson explained, alluding to the fact that the dealership is now in the capable hands of Joe’s sons. “We’re just grateful for the years we spent with him, and I’m sorry it has to end so soon.”

A down to earth gentleman

Like Jackson, Joe’s passing is a hard pill to swallow for Rusty McClam, a close friend and president of McClam & Associates, a highway grading and utility contractor in Little Mountain, SC, located 20 miles north of Columbia.

“A great man will be missed,” McClam said softly. “He was a down-to-earth guy who could walk around the circle of great people just as easily as he could hang out with ordinary citizens.”

The working relationship between Blanchard Machinery and McClam was such that if the contractor needed anything at a moment’s notice, Joe made sure his employees got it as soon as possible.

A good example occurred in October 2015 when record flooding hit South Carolina, devastating parts of the upstate and Colombia.

“We moved everyone we had to Columbia because we were the custodial contractor for the water plant that provided the city with its drinking water,” he said. “We gave Blanchard Machinery a list of things we needed that were bigger than what we had. Blanchard came with everything we needed and Joe himself arrived on a Saturday morning to see if he there was more they could do for us.”

More than one builder has described Joe as a Southern gentleman, including Stewart H. Johnson, a seasoned entrepreneur and chairman of the board of Morgan Corp., a Spartanburg industrial site development company.

“I’ve been doing business with Blanchard Machinery since its beginnings in the 1980s,” he said, adding that Joe “has always been a great business partner for Morgan Corp. and the kind of partner you want to have if you operate a company.

“Company ethics are well known, and it’s a standard set by Joe.”

Mike Strange agreed with Johnson’s assessment that Blanchard Machinery is a direct reflection of its late president and CEO. He leads Strange Bros. Grading Co. Inc., a second-generation contracting business in the upstate Greenville-Spartanburg area.

“I think Joe set the bar high on how you’re supposed to treat people and he was consistent about it,” he recalled. “I’m sure Blanchard will continue to be that way. Before hiring his two sons to work for the company, he insisted that they first get jobs at another dealership and get promoted. You don’t Don’t see many people who are smart enough to do that. But that’s how Joe was, and he left footprints through that state that will be forever.

Strange said these prints also showed that Joe was one step ahead of most other equipment dealers.

“The path [Blanchard has always worked] with us as customers has been great,” he continued. “We liked the way they ran their after-sales service and the fact that they were supportive of their work. I’ve had parts that were out of warranty due to age but didn’t have many hours on them. If anything happened to those machines, Blanchard would fight for you with Cat. Their service and parts availability are above the rest, I think, making them the premier dealership in this area.”

His accomplishments matched his commercial success

Not only was Joe a towering figure in the construction equipment industry in South Carolina, but he was known to be one of the most accomplished people in the state due to his many civic accomplishments, including:

  • He served as chairman of the board of trustees of Columbia College, for which he received the institution’s 2014 Medallion Award.
  • Induction into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2015 in recognition of his many accomplishments and success as a businessman.
  • Be nominated by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce as the 2019 Business Leader of the Year.
  • Named an Honorary Life Member of the University of South Carolina in 2021 for his contributions to the university and the community.

In addition to his many actions, he has also served on many boards and committees. For example, at the time of his death, Joe was a member of the Palmetto Business Forum, a board member of Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness, and the Columbia Museum of Art, where he had previously served as chairman of the board of directors. Additionally, he was the current Chairman of the Board of the South Carolina Mining Council.

Along with his wife Melissa, Joe Blanchard was an art enthusiast and philanthropist in South Carolina. The couple have sponsored many exhibits that have drawn countless visitors to the Columbia Museum of Art and have worked with Habitat for Humanity, The Riverbanks Society, and Harvest Hope Food Bank.

In recognition of his many contributions to the state he loved and called home over the past 35 years, Joe was awarded the Order of the Saw Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor, by Governor Henry McMaster shortly before his death. His lasting impact on the state and his influence will be felt forever.

But, of all his accomplishments and accomplishments, Joe considered his family his greatest legacy. His home was the location of countless dinner parties with friends and family where he was known to serve the best wine and laugh often.

He leaves behind his wife Melissa; sons Rozier (Carrie) and Boyd (Emilie) and daughter Katherine (Davis); and grandchildren Harper, Bo, Henry and Joe III. He is also survived by his sister Elizabeth Blanchard; brothers Bob Jr. (Linda) and Bill Blanchard; half-brother Bartley Rice (charity); and 16 nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking Joe Blanchard’s friends to consider donating to Habitat for Humanity, the Riverbanks Zoo and Harvest Hope. CEG

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