CSI Celebrates 40 Years of Growth

For Central States Industrial (CSI) employees, 40 years of business represents more than just a job or a paycheck. Founders, Jim and Shirley Cook, set a model that lived from the earliest days; being a CSI employee means a lifetime of growth, overcoming challenges, and creating connections. To be part of CSI is to be family.

Lead In Photo 40 Years

This is a philosophy Jim and Shirley believed in from the beginning in July 1977, when Central States Industrial Equipment and Service, Inc. (CSI) was located in a small garage in Jefferson City, MO.

This is the garage in Jefferson City, where it all began.

With only four employees, the Cooks relocated CSI to Springfield, MO in 1984, and the company continued to grow. Now, CSI has five different locations across the United States, with over 160 employees.

CSI's first three employees: Jim Cook, Kelly Enloe, and Steve Bates. Shirley Cook took this photo.

“I talk about it sometimes—about the decision-making for my dad to start CSI—for him to walk away from a nine-year vesting in a ten-year all or nothing pension plan. I don’t know how he made that leap.”

Mark Cook, CEO

Business Development Leader, Eric Gore said, “It’s hard to grow a business if you’re not growing your people. Some of the things I do today, very easily, were once difficult for me to do. So by growing me, it helped grow business. I see this in a lot of my coworkers as well.” 

CSI’s culture has evolved over time, but the fundamental values have remained the same since 1977. The company is built on the ideal to “take care of each other and take care of customers.” There are endless examples of CSI employees supporting and helping those around them and cultivating a culture of kindness and resilience.

Creative Director, Amanda Williamson experienced this firsthand. She said, “I went through a period where I was struggling just to get out of bed in the morning, because of the pain I was in over losing my dad. I experienced more growth in a six-month period than I had ever had in my entire life thanks to the people here investing in me, coaching me, and helping me.”

The people at CSI work together in a unified effort to serve customers and provide for their loved ones. Many coworkers have formed strong bonds of friendship throughout the years in their pursuit of a shared goal. 

“I have watched my children grow, my co-workers’ children grow. I like to think that I’ve become better. You want to contribute as a person. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to do their job well and be productive, contributing members to a successful company.”

Curtis Elkins, Business Development Leader

40 years is an incredible milestone for CSI. Four decades encompasses so much life lived: countless learning experiences, victories, friendships, and memories. Kent Fuzzell, Production Specialist, said, “Knowing the stability of the company, the dependability, the feeling of being on a team and belonging ... it seems like coming home.”