CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — Living and working in Cullman was always in the cards for Zac Smith, even if he had to start his own business to do so.

Smith, the CEO of AGCOR Steel, grew up in the Welti area, and attended Cullman City Schools before going on to play football for the University of North Alabama for three years. He then spent a semester at Wallace State Community College before attending the University of Alabama for a degree in corporate finance.

After several years working at Edward Jones Investments, Borden and Brewster Contractors and the NCI Group, he started AGCOR, a manufacturer and retailer of metal siding and metal trusses currently located in Vinemont, in October 2014.

Smith and his wife, Brittney Lynn Smith, have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Marielle and a newborn son, Truett. He said it was important to come back and raise his family in his hometown.

"The fact that I was working all over the Eastern U.S. and having a family, it's pretty tough on you, so you try to find every way that you can to get back to your hometown." he said. "With Cullman being the unique place that it is, there wasn't a lot of opportunity for what my skill set was, therefore, you really just have to create it yourself."

Since AGCOR opened, the company has found success in Cullman County and has grown to have 26 employees.

"It's been good," he said. "We've had a lot of support from the local municipalities. They've been very easy to work with."

Coming back home also means that AGCOR is able to take advantage of the workforce and resources that are available to businesses, Smith said.

"It's nice starting a business here in Cullman, Alabama, because you have a lot of citizens who have a good foundation of character," he said. "They're good people who want to do things right."

Without the good employees that have come from the Cullman area, Smith said AGCOR wouldn't be as productive as it has been over the last few years.

"When you have good employees, it's easy to run a business," he said.

With that productivity has come growth, as AGCOR is set to move to a bigger facility in Good Hope and add 25 more jobs.

Smith said the company planned to move to the Berlin area, but after those plans fell through, the cities of Good Hope and Cullman and Cullman County Commission joined together to offer an incentive plan to keep AGCOR in the area.

"We're excited to be a part of Good Hope and be their first manufacturing plant ever," he said. "With the work of those municipalities coming together, it's definitely made the transition an easy feat, and we hope to be kicking there hopefully the first of next year."

Smith said he was happy to keep his business in Cullman County, mainly due to the quality of people who live here.

"It was very important to me," he said. "The biggest reason is due to the employees and the type of person you can hire here compared to other areas."

Staying in Cullman County also shows a sense of community between the various municipalities, and can maybe serve as an example that other companies can see, Smith said.

"More than anything, I'm just happy to see that the City of Cullman, Cullman County and the City of Good Hope could all work together to achieve a common goal," he said. "Hopefully it sets a precedent for future businesses that currently haven't set their foot into Cullman County that can see you get the support of the whole county."

When he's not with his family or working at AGCOR, Smith uses what little time he has to give back to the community.

Smith was on the Board of Directors for the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce last year, and is on the Board of Directors for Cullman Technology Village that will soon open to act as an incubator to help new businesses get off the ground.

As part of the Chamber board, Smith was part of the conversations about the future of the city and county, and he said local leaders are cooperating more than ever and are all working towards a common goal of making Cullman a better place to live and work.

"We don't have, necessarily, a clear vision of exactly where we're going, but we're all objective and open to new ideas of where Cullman needs to go," he said.

Apart from his own work for the Chamber of Commerce, AGCOR also acts as a supporter of schools, nonprofits and community events, Smith said.

"I would suggest that more people get involved in the community," he said. "Because until you get involved in the community, you really can't see what they have to give back to you."

With both his company and his family growing soon, Smith said he has no plans to leave any time soon, and he looks forward to raising his children in Cullman.

"I look forward to having my kids go to Cullman High School," he said. "I definitely want my kids to have the same opportunities that I had, so from that perspective, it makes perfect sense."

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Information from: The Cullman Times, http://www.cullmantimes.com