Mulzer Crushed Stone located in Tell City touches the lives of millions of people daily. Mulzer supplies the limestone, sand, and gravel for international airport runways, roads, interstate highways, dams, and chemical operations at utilities. Sixty years ago three Spencer County brothers: Arnold, Roland, and Edgar Mulzer started a small construction company that was to become Mulzer Crushed Stone. Humbly, “they weren’t quite ditch diggers; they finished up for ditch diggers,” building box culverts alongside newly constructed or upgraded roads throughout Indiana.
After the depression and during World War II, construction money dried up and the Mulzer Brothers started to mine coal in Spencer County. They did this without Edgar and several members of their crew, who had been called to serve in the United States military.
As construction led to coal mining, coal mining led to rock quarrying. Because of the reputation obtained during the depression and war; a reputation for hard work and integrity, a friend in the highway department suggested that a closer supply of construction aggregate would be beneficial. By this he meant closer to Jasper and Huntingburg.
The Mulzer Quarry just north of Eckerty, Indiana was opened in 1946. The summer seasonal demand for stone in construction lent itself to the winter seasonal demand for coal. The Mulzer crew was now shifted from job to job and seasonal employment was virtually eliminated.
The early fifties saw Mulzer open a quarry near Derby, Indiana. This happened after Mulzer established a yard in Derby to load stone produced by the Lutgring Quarry. This stone was loaded onto barges for Alcoa’s construction. Mulzer later purchased Lutgring and added to the acreage at Derby. What Mulzer learned at Derby was to shape the business to this day. The Ohio River is a distribution conduit. By the mid-50’s, Mulzer had purchased the first of many specialty, flat-deck barges to transport limestone over this conduit.
The quarries at Eckerty and Derby, the coal mine in Spencer County, and the opportunity to open a concrete plant in Tell City led to the decision to locate in Tell City. The company centralized their activity in Tell City. Purchasing land on Indiana Highway #37 just northeast of Tell City, the stage was set to grow. Growth was accomplished by acquisition and an expanding business climate. The Ohio Valley Co., a sand and gravel producer in Tell City, was purchased in 1959. In 1962, the Bedford-Nugent Company, a sand and gravel dredger, was acquired. Each new venture advanced the theory that the river was the most efficient means of getting the product to end users.
The Mulzer Brothers, with the experience of Eckerty and Derby being mostly successful, located and developed Cape Sandy. The development of the Cape Sandy facility during 1963 was timed rather fortuitously to the upgrade of the “low dams” along the Ohio River. Newburgh and Cannelton received tremendous quantities of Mulzer stone, sand, and gravel. The purchase of Bedford-Nugent enhanced the barge movement down river in that Mulzer obtained a marketing foothold in Evansville. The yards in the Evansville area also served as back- up suppliers to the burgeoning river construction, as well as outlets to the construction trade.
Cape Sandy continues as one of the largest mining operations in the state of Indiana. Cape Sandy was envisioned as a “river only” source of supply with a production capacity of 1,200 tons per hour. That was doubled with the addition of Cape Sandy II. Each a separate quarry and crushing plant sharing support facilities. Cape II offered production flexibility that an expanding market requires. As of 1998 there were a total of four production plants on site.
During 1969, activity for I-64 was finalized. Mulzer constructed a rail yard just north of Dale, Indiana. The Dale yard would be serviced by the Southern Railroad and supplied out of a new quarry at Temple, Indiana. When I-64 was completed, Mulzer had supplied construction aggregate for 120 miles in Indiana and Illinois.
Mulzer Crushed Stone began to take on its present form in 1969 when Arnold and his five children formed a new partnership and acquired the shares of Mulzer owned by Roland and Edgar. The new partnership of Arnold, Neil, Jim, Arnold Jr., Kenneth, and Roberta began an era of rapid growth in sales and production. The company grew because the new partners observed and practiced their father and uncles’ rather loose, unstructured management style. This style allowed each partner to gravitate to the area of the company that held interest, and then totally dedicating themselves to that area. Working with the Mulzer crew enhanced the friendship between the owners and the employees. These friendships typified The Mulzer Camp.
The camp was built by Mulzer Employees as a recreational site for the families of Mulzer employees. The construction of the camp was completed on a strictly volunteer basis after normal work hours and on weekends. The entire work force volunteered! The camp is now the site of Mulzer company picnics and many civic picnics and meetings.
By 1978, the old office building at 6th and Franklin, built on the old Ohio Valley site, was no longer adequate. Computers required additional space, and so did the people working on the two space cramped floors. A new modern office building was designed and built at 6th and Mozart. The old building on Franklin now houses Mulzer’s parts department. The parts department supports a cadre of trained mechanics, electricians and welders.
Expansion continued in 1983 when Mulzer acquired the Crawford County Stone Co. located near Leavenworth, Indiana. Mulzer re-named this the Tower quarry. Tower continues to operate as a truck quarry and supplies stone to areas abounded by I-64. Mulzer purchased the Charlestown, Indiana quarry from Martin-Marietta in 1987. Although the stone is from a different geological formation and is dolomitic limestone, it is an excellent construction aggregate. Mulzer has continued to upgrade Charlestown. When Shamblin Stone in West Virginia was acquired in March of 1990, Charlestown became a natural river supplier.
The Abydel Quarry near Paoli, Indiana was opened in 1996. This quarry opened up new markets and allowed Mulzer Crushed Stone, Inc. to be competitive in the Orange County area. The Mulzer Company continued its growth in 1999 when it opened a new river quarry in Harrison County, Indiana. The New Amsterdam Quarry will help Mulzer to continue to meet the growing river market.
The Mulzer Companies have always treated transportation as the key to its success. A large truck fleet allows us to deliver our products to small and large customers. One day one of our trucks may deliver a single load to a person’s driveway. The next day the same truck may join the fleet that hauls rock to a large highway job. The river allows the company to extend its reach over a vast area – spanning from Mt. Vernon, Indiana to Hughes Creek, West Virginia. This network requires three large line boats, eleven switch-boats and one-hundred and twenty flat deck barges. Mulzer now operates one of the largest private fleets on U.S. inland waters.
The Mulzer Company’s presence in West Virginia was cemented with the 1990 purchase of Shamblin Stone in Charleston, West Virginia. Clarence Shamblin and his wife founded the company in 1970’s. Shamblin Stone was a long time customer of the Mulzer Companies. When Clarence started to think about retirement, he contacted the Mulzer’s to discuss the possibility of a purchase.
They came to a quick agreement, and Shamblin Stone became part of the Mulzer Family. Shamblin Stone receives rock by barge from Cape Sandy and Charlestown (Indiana) quarries. Shamblin then offers it to the public through its 6 yards, and delivers by truck throughout the Kanawha Valley.
Now the third generation is partnering with 600 plus employees spanning three states; overseeing quarries that cover the southern part of Indiana; looking after a river fleet that traverses the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers; monitoring a truck operation that covers the southern third of Indiana and a big portion of West Virginia.