ARGENT HAS QUITE THE HISTORY.
Argent Equity Partners, Inc, originally Development Corporation of Virginia, has a strong history, one that has evolved over 100 years. Beginning as one company in 1913 and introducing itself as another in 2008, an important aspect has remained consistent over the century of its existence – Argent has been McNeal family-owned and operated since the beginning.
Back in 1913, J. Ross McNeal of Norfolk, VA founded Empire Machinery and Supply Corporation, establishing its core focus as a wholesale distributor of industrial, mill and marine supplies. Hailing from a firmly recognized, old-line Southern lumber family, J. Ross McNeal was qualified to simultaneously form The Argent Lumber Company in 1916 with his brother William B. McNeal and Horace W. Phillips Jr., which became the only interstate narrow gauge logging railroad in the nation.
For roughly 40 years, two generations of McNeal’s successfully ran The Argent Lumber Company while concurrently operating and managing Empire Machinery for over 100 years. In 2008, the McNeal’s sold the Empire Machinery name and business model in order to partner with their cousins, Lawrence Smith and Fleet Smith, to consolidate business interests and reprioritize the corporation’s core competencies. Argent was then re-introduced as the closely held private equity firm known today.
The Smith and McNeal family continue to deliver on their commitments through years of financial and operational management experience.