By GWEN SISSON
In his first month of business, he made $35.12.
"I thought, 'what in the world have I done'?" VanLandingham said.
A friend, Burt McKenzie, decided he wanted to go into business with VanLandingham. McKenzie was a bookkeeper and could help him take care of the business end, while VanLandingham built houses.
VanLandingham told McKenzie he didn't have enough business for one person, let alone two. But McKenzie joined him anyway and the two made the next month a little better.
"It was tough going at first," VanLandingham said. "I really questioned if I had bitten off more than I could chew."
VanLandingham became a contractor and eventually became created one of the largest lumber businesses in Starkville, despite advice against it.
"I was told that contractors shouldn't go into the lumber business," VanLandingham said. "I was told that the lumber business would kill the contracting business."
He was building houses, but still not making a lot of money at it, when he met Glen Brown, who "lived and breathed reinforced concrete."
With Brown's passion and skill with concrete, VanLandingham's business took a whole new direction.
He was now able to go into the commercial building business, and over the years, has built some of the largest buildings in the Starkville area, including Cadence Bank, M&F Bank Downtown, four branch banks on Highway 12, several sorority and fraternity houses on the Mississippi State University campus, as well as dormitories and many of the classroom buildings. He built five MSU dormitories in five years.
Some of his favorite buildings include the downtown branch of M&F Bank, Cadence Bank and the sorority and fraternity houses.
And while his buildings played a role in the architectural distinctiveness of the Greensboro District, VanLandingham's business and building style can be found in buildings throughout Starkville and the Mississippi State University campus.