|Using his instincts
and willingness to work hard, J. Eugene Meckley was able to survive the Great Depression
in the ‘30s by earning a living owning and operating a delivery truck. Hauling mostly
milk, coal and fertilizer, he had occasion to travel to Lebanon County from his home in
northern Dauphin County to bring back a load of burned limestone. Influenced by his
father-in-law Benjamin Markel, and again relying on his own instinct for business, he
became interested in the possibilities of forming a business burning limestone for sale to
farms in the area.
|In the fall of 1936,
Eugene purchased and rebuilt 8 ‘Set Kilns.’ With only three employees, the first
year’s sales totaled $12,000. In just a few months, he was able to introduce the use
of the ‘Draw Kiln’ to customers in Northumberland County, and greatly increase
production of burned limestone. It was not an easy task--working 7 days a week emptying
the kilns and delivering the lime, Eugene also operated a small farm.
|In 1946, the
decision was made to purchase a truck field spreading unit for bulk delivery and field
application of pulverized, agricultural limestone. The widespread use of burned limestone
(calcium oxide) was replaced with mechanically pulverized limestone (calcium carbonate),
ending an era. The practical application process, coupled with a distinct economic
advantage, solved the problem of handling large quantities of a heavy and difficult to
maneuver material. This solution created an increase in demand for limestone, and in 1947
Eugene invested in his first grinding mill.
|Through years of
slow, steady growth, and a continuous desire to diversify to satisfy the ever-changing
needs of the agricultural community, Meckley’s Limestone developed a reputation for
quality and reliability. In the ‘60s, Meckley’s was operating a fleet of 27
field spreading units, and discovered a niche among larger producers: their fleet was the
largest operating under the control and ownership of one location, anywhere in the United
|In the ‘70s, it
became apparent that the economic practicality of this type of business had to be
reevaluated, as the 27 units were sitting idle for 6 months of the year. Rising to the
challenge of finding new methods of application and distribution, Meckley’s
discovered that damp limestone could be stockpiled and stored outdoors year-round. Dealers
were set up to take bulk delivery and provide their own spreading services. While
Meckley’s continued to provide the pulverized limestone, the costly application was
in the hands of the dealers.
Meckley’s obtained approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation of its
crushed aggregate for use in paving and road construction--another major milestone in the
company’s history. This new market helped establish a solid economic base for the
production and sale of crushed aggregate, which then led to the purchase and erection of a
bituminous concrete plant in 1966. This new development complemented the quarry operation,
since a considerable amount of ‘aggregate quality’ stone had to be quarried in
order to have access to the higher quality limestone required for agricultural, and later,
chemical usage. Eugene Meckley turned over the operational management of the quarry to his
son, Fred, in 1965. Having attended Penn State and after serving 3 years in the Navy, Fred
made a commitment to join his father and sister Barbara in the business.
|The decision was
made to purchase the 246 acre property in 1966, after 31 years of leasing, and
Meckley’s Limestone was incorporated to ensure the survival of family ownership
through the generations. In 1996, Fred’s son Jim returned as corporate vice president
and general manager of operations upon his graduation from Cornell.
|In January, 2001, Meckley's Limestone was purchased by Matt and Tony Markunas, who bring with them their combined years of experience and a continued commitment to excellence. The business continues to flourish.
In 1982, the U.S. Department of Energy constructed a ‘fluidized bed boiler’
in Paxinos, PA, approximately 25 miles from the quarry. The purpose of this unit was to
demonstrate the feasibility of burning coal waste (culm) as a primary fuel for the
production of steam energy. Part of this project involved testing the use of finely ground
limestone as a sorbent of sulfur dioxide (the primary cause of acid rain) by injecting it
into the combustion chamber. Meckley’s was able to provide the limestone
tests, which demonstrated that the limestone was an effective sorbent. As a result of
these tests, Meckley’s was able to form supply
agreements with the Keeler Company of
Williamsport, providing pulverized limestone for a factory test boiler. Participation in
the research and development of many projects such as these has made Meckley’s
Limestone Products, Inc. a leader in the industry, and a crucial player in the development
of new markets. The limestone from these early tests has become the benchmark for
sulfur-dioxide capture against which all other limestones would be measured.
Over the years, Meckley’s has developed supply relationships with 10 independently
owned power plants that, combined, consume over 325,000 tones of limestone each year.
Weekly sales of pulverized limestone to power plants surpass 6,000 tons. Consistently on
the cutting edge of the power industry’s demand for sorbent, Meckley’s manages
to maintain the quality, consistency and delivery excellence expected. Our extensive core
drilling/chemical testing of the quarry and our on-site chemical/physical analysis
laboratory allow us to accomplish these goals. Our trucking fleet, office staff and
employees make sure that good service doesn’t end when the product leaves the quarry.
The strong tradition
continues, and the reputation for solid, reliable services and products remains
unequalled, from the Great Depression into the 21st century.