Rogers Group at 100
“If you did a good job, you could always tell he was pleased, but he always said, ‘Is that the best you can do?’” long-time partner and one-time President Gus Sieboldt said. “He always demanded a little more all the time. However, he was right there working with you or on some other job all the time. He never demanded more than he would do himself.”
Southern expansion, military collaboration
By the 1920s, Rogers had expanded his partnerships and opened quarries in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama. In 1942, Ralph Rogers & Co. was the first subcontractor signed to help build Clinton Engineer Works, the home of the top secret Manhattan Project that developed the first nuclear weapon. It was the beginning of a long, mutually beneficial relationship with the military.
When Fort Campbell, base of the U.S. Army’s legendary 101st Airborne Division, needed a new runway from which to launch troops and supplies for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 1991, Rogers Group played a pivotal role.
To limit the airfield’s down time, only 60 days were allotted for the renovation. To meet the tight timeline, 300 people worked seven days a week to remove the existing asphalt and lay 16,000 cubic yards of concrete and nearly 190 tons of asphalt. The project – completed a day early – earned Rogers Group an Outstanding Performance Award from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It now serves as a stopover landing for NASA’s space shuttle when it travels from coast to coast.
Other military installations with large projects completed by Rogers Group include the Naval Ammunitions Depot in Crane, Ind.; Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.; and Camp Forrest in Tullahoma, Tenn.
After World War II ended, the nation’s economy boomed, and nowhere was that more evident than in the road building industry. In an effort to mobilize equipment as quickly as possible, the government lifted all weight restrictions on trucks, and roads showed the battle scars. Consequently, “all our highways were crying for stone and sand, for asphalt and concrete,” Sieboldt said.
The post-war years pushed Rogers into a building frenzy, and Rogers, at 56, led the charge. “He seemed to be at the height of his mental and physical powers,” Sieboldt noted. “We began to expand in every direction.”
As construction projects took off around the nation, Rogers expanded its business to meet new market opportunities. Additional dormitories were built on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, and Rogers added a block business to supply the material. In Louisville, Ky., both ready-mix concrete and block were added.
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