National Lime & Stone Co. President C. Paul Palmer IV today credited his father for the companys success in recent decades and its ability to weather the Great Recession.
When the elder Palmer, Carleton P. III, became chief executive officer in 1980 of the manufacturer of crushed stone and sand, he recognized a need for change at the company. Until then National Lime & Stone, formed in 1903, evenly balanced its customer base between industries and construction companies needing crushed stone and sand, called aggregates.
At that time, my father, as the companys new president, made a major decision. He recognized that our industrial customers were slowly losing market share to foreign competitors. So he shifted the companys emphasis to construction aggregates, where local markets, not global markets, mattered most, Paul Palmer said in a speech to Findlay Rotary Club. From this very wise decision, a two-decade program was initiated to reinvest in the companys quarries and build a more competitively advantaged platform.
Quarries were rebuilt with highly-automated processing plants.
These new plants enabled us to be the low-cost producer in our markets and to be profitable while building market share, he said. Two decades later, we had developed a leading construction aggregates division, in almost all of our local markets.
The company capitalized on the economic expansion and nationwide building boom, which extended from the late 1980s to early 2000s, he said.
Perhaps more importantly, we were also well-prepared to face the financial crisis and Great Recession that followed, Palmer said.
Demand for aggregates dropped 40 percent nationwide from 2006 to 2009. In Ohio, the slide was worse: a 50 percent decline in consumption of aggregates from 2005 to 2009, Palmer said. Demand has been slow to rebound, particularly in Ohio. Nationwide consumption of aggregates is still down about 30 percent from pre-recession levels, he said.
But the company remains strong and continues to grow. It started with one mine in Carey and 10 employees in 1903. Today, it has 15 mines, 500 employees and an extensive distribution network in Ohio, western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia. Since the Great Recession, National Lime & Stone has added 11 new distribution sites, extending from Lake Erie to the Ohio River in the three states.
The aggregates of limestone, gravel and sand which it mines and processes are used in construction of highways, roads and bridges. For example, National Lime & Stone is supplying aggregates for the reconstruction and widening of Interstate 75, as it did for the original construction of I-75 in 1950. It also has supplied aggregates for construction of Findlays schools, Blanchard Valley Hospital, Findlay reservoirs, Findlay Village Mall, area distribution centers, Marathon Petroleum Corp.s new offices and Hancock Hotel.
The companys limestone is still used to produce industrial products for a variety of markets, including glass, steel, asphalt roofing, and others.
Its quarry in Carey, operating since 1903, is now the largest in Ohio, and a key part of operations.
Our Carey quarry is one of the largest, purest and one of the most easily accessible deposits of limestone in the world, Palmer said. Today, our products are shipped by rail and truck from Carey to almost 30 glass plants across the United States. These plants use our products to manufacture a wide array of products, including architectural glass, automotive glass and glass for electrical applications.
National Lime & Stones products are used in manufacturing fertilizer. Its customers include The Andersons in Toledo and ScottsMiracle-Gro in Marysville, he said.
The company has developed a limestone-related product which is a carrier for herbicides and pesticides.
Paul Palmer was named president of National Lime & Stone in 2011. His father, Carleton, became chairman and chief executive officer. He still holds both positions. Shortly after the company was formed in 1903, two brothers from Leipsic became the owners. One of those brothers was Paul Palmers great-grandfather.
We have been one of the fastest-growing companies in our industry with a growth rate that has outpaced the broader market, Palmer said. From our growth, we have increased our market share, we have expanded our footprint and weve strengthened our competitive position.