Vulcan Materials Company

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The Vulcan Materials Company (NYSE: VMC) is a stone quarrier, manufacturer, and the largest supplier of construction aggregate in the United States. It is headquartered at 1200 Urban Center Drive at Liberty Park. In addition to sand, gravel, crushed stone and other raw aggregates, the company manufactures asphalt and concrete. As of 2023 it employs 11,974 people at 319 facilities in 21 states, the Bahamas and Mexico. With a market capitalization of $17.85 billion in June 2019, Vulcan Materials is the most valuable public corporation in Alabama. In 2023 it was ranked at No. 494 on the "Fortune 500" with $7.3 billion in revenue.

Vulcan Materials Company was founded by Solon Jacobs and Henry Badham in 1909 as the Birmingham Slag Company. Based in Ensley, the company marketed the huge stockpiles of furnace slag created as a byproduct of steelmaking for railroad ballast. Once the growth of the automobile industry necessitated a boom in road construction, the company was well-positioned to profit.

The company was purchased outright in 1916 by Charles Ireland an Ohio banker, who placed his sons, Glenn, Eugene, and Barney in charge of the company while he secured heavy equipment left over after the construction of the Panama Canal. They opened a new processing plant in Ensley, along with additional plants in Fairfield and Wylam.

Birmingham Slag was a major supplier to the Tennessee Valley Authority beginning in 1939 and also provided materials for construction of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Redstone Arsenal, Fort McClellan and other military facilities during World War II. In 1944 the company embarked on a profitable joint venture with Knoxville's Lambert Brothers, Inc. By 1951 the company was netting as much as $2 million per year on over $20 million in sales.

Glenn's son Charles W. Ireland assumed the presidency that year and began planning for growth under President Eisenhower's interstate highway program. He hired Bernard Monaghan to oversee the company's merger with the Vulcan Detinning Company of Sewaren, New Jersey, which was completed in 1956. The combined company, renamed Vulcan Materials, went public soon afterward. In 1957 it acquired Lambert Brothers, the Union Chemicals and Materials Corporation, and seven other companies. Monaghan succeeded Ireland as president and CEO. The company moved its industrial chemicals division headquarters to Birmingham from Wichita, Kansas in 1975.

Houston Blount succeeded Monaghan as president in 1977 and was named CEO in 1979, serving until his retirement in 1991. General counsel Donald James assumed the presidency in 1996 and became CEO the following year. He was succeeded in 2014 by Tom Hill.

In 1981, with sales of $793 million, Vulcan Materials was first listed on the "Fortune 500", landing at No. 367. It continued to grow through acquisitions until selling its chemicals division to the Occidental Chemical Corporation in 2005. The 2007 acquisition of Florida Rock Industries, Inc. positioned the company to benefit from that decade's building boom, sending shares above $122. The Great Recession that followed the collapse of the housing bubble saw shares topple below $40 and its stocks downgraded by investment analysts.

In December 2011 Martin Marietta launched a hostile bid to acquire the company. The takeover bid was supported by Charles Ireland's son, Glenn. In 2017 Vulcan Materials acquired another Birmingham-based company, Aggregates USA, for $900 million, adding 31 facilities in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia. In 2021 the company acquired U.S. Concrete Inc. of Euless, Texas for $1.2 billion.

Vulcan's operations in Mexico have sometimes been criticized by local officials. Since 2018 the company has been engaged in arbitration under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement in a dispute over opening new aggregate quarries. In May 2022 Mexican authorities cited environmental impacts in suspending a permit for Vulcan's Sac-Tun subsidiary (later renamed Calica) to operate a limestone quarry south of Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo. Calica closed the port facility it had operated near the quarry at Punta Venado, but continued to provide contract port services to Mexican multinational Cemex to deliver materials for construction of the 948-mile Tren Maya railway through December. Access to the port had subsequently been litigated between Vulcan and Cemex. Acting under the authority of a local court order, Mexican military personnel coordinated with Cemex officials to seize control of the idled port to unload a vessel. The action was criticized by Vulcan's executives and by Alabama's Senators Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville, both of whom blamed President Joe Biden for failing to prevent Mexico from taking control of the port. The military left the port after about two weeks.

Birmingham area facilities


  • Pierce, Frank (December 1985) "Vulcan Materials Company: Alabama's Share of the Fortune." Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society
  • "Vulcan Materials Company profile at - accessed December 12, 2011
  • "History of Vulcan Materials Co." (December 12, 2011) Birmingham Business Journal
  • Poe, Ryan (December 20, 2011) "Son of Vulcan founder supports Martin Marietta offer." Birmingham Business Journal
  • West, Ty (May 25, 2017) "Vulcan strikes $900M deal with SPO Partners for Aggregates USA." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Bagwell, Dan (July 8, 2019) "List: Alabama’s public companies slowed by volatile stock market." Birmingham Business Journal
  • "Update on Vulcan's Mexico Operations." (May 13, 2022) Vulcan Materials Company
  • O'Leary, A. J. (November 3, 2022) "Vulcan acquires Honduran, Northern California properties." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Thornton, William (March 20, 2023) "Why did Mexico seize a Vulcan Materials terminal?"
  • "US company denounces 'illegal' takeover of facility in Quintana Roo." (March 23, 2023) Mexico News Daily
  • "US company says Mexican police illegally seized property" (March 20, 2023) Associated Press

External links