Business brought Shayla and Scott Copas together and it remains a common bond for them.
“I think it just gives us a chance to get to know each other on a different level and through a different avenue,” says Shayla. “Our relationship has always gone in a business direction. When we met we were both entrepreneurs and that’s really what we had in common and what attracted us to each other. We have a lot of drive.”
Scott is president and CEO of Baldwin Shell and Shayla is owner of Shayla Copas Interiors.
“She does all of our interior design for our company along with she consults with us on our marketing strategy,” he says.
Shayla, who is from Portland, Oregon, met Scott when he was in town for an Associated General Contractors Convention in 1994. They married on May 10, 1997.
“One thing that I find in Scott that is very noble is the fact that he’s taken Baldwin & Shell from where it was four years ago to a family-oriented company that really values its employees and its clients as well,” she says. “It’s all about the people.”
Since he took the helm, she says, he has raised the number of women in management positions at the company.
“We needed a cultural change and we needed an image change, which she has been a part of. We are a white male-dominated industry in the management of construction companies,” he says. “We needed to expand and look at everybody and if you look at their qualities and their abilities you open it up and it just happens.”
The ages and experience levels of his staff have evolved as well.
“When you’ve got three generations in your office the challenge becomes even more interesting but we are smart enough to know that one of those groups – for instance, the millennial group right now – is someday going to run our company,” says Scott. “Our company is 72 years old and it’s going to last a lot longer than I’m going to be around.”
He strives to help his staff gel, hoping to meld the best ideals of each generation to make the type of person who can lead the company in the future. He and Shayla note there are generational differences between them as well.
“We’re a generation apart,” says Scott, the more candid of the pair. Shayla is a member of Generation X and he is a Baby Boomer, placing them also in different stages of their careers.
“I’m kind of towards the end of mine and she’s right in the thick of hers. It’s fun to watch,” says Scott, who has expanded his business from $87 million in work in 2013 to almost $200 million this year and pushed forward with planned expansions in Arkansas as well as out of state.
When they met, Shayla owned a silk flower company called Forever Silk, and she had been contracted to decorate apartment complexes and create model arrangements to be sent as corporate housewarming gifts.
“I hand-drilled all of the flowers,” she says. “When I met him he helped drill them.”
Shayla has since segued her business into a full-service residential and commercial design firm, which has led her to both a book and a video project, both of which should be out soon.
“It’s a book on entertainment design – 16 chapters, themed and four seasons.” she says of the book, Four Seasons of Entertainment. “Then I have a show coming out with the Design Network. We shot it in 2017 and it’s getting ready to come out in 2018.”
The Design Network project, filmed in North Carolina, includes Aaron Perkins from Face Your Day Salon as well as Sarah Hutchinson Wengel, daughter of Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Shayla and Scott like to golf together, and though work has kept them from those things lately, she hopes to schedule some time on the golf course soon.
They sold their houseboat, “Lady and the Tramp,” last year and are renovating another one – a five bedroom, three bath Sumerset with a living room and a full laundry room.
Scott and Shayla found this boat, the “Copas Cabana” – named by friends during a party at Cache – on Lake Navajo in New Mexico. It was dismantled and loaded onto two trucks and brought to Arkansas, where it was launched on Lake Ouachita in July 2017.
“That will be a fun project. The boat is in great shape but it won’t look the same when I’m finished with it,” says Shayla.
They redid their home in west Little Rock as well, buying it in 2011 but not moving in until remodeling was complete in 2013.
“The house was not really entertainment-friendly so we changed it quite a bit. We wanted to make sure we could host our charitable parties,” says Shayla.
Both serve on the advisory council for Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas and Shayla kicked off the Women of Inspiration fundraiser for that organization. She is also on the advisory board for the Psychiatric Research Institute at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Governor’s Mansion Commission. Scott is on the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board and the Career Education and Workforce Development Board.
Shayla travels extensively for work but leisure travel has been largely on hold during this busy period of their life. They recently visited New York, though, and they spent the Christmas holidays in New Orleans. They have enjoyed South Carolina so much they considered buying a vacation home there.
“Then we bought the houseboat,” says Shayla, who isn’t quite as big a fan of the water as her husband.
“I love the Caribbean islands. I love the water,” he says.
They look forward to traveling together – the Amalfi Coast is high on their list of anticipated destinations – when their schedules allow.
“When we do we have a great time,” he says. “The one thing we need to learn is to play more.”