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Published: Wednesday, 5/30/2001

Materials supplier Kuhlman Corp. celebrates centennial

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Kuhlman Corp. building supply and concrete firm, which worries about rain on job sites so much that it has its own weather satellite, this week is fretting about conditions for an outdoor party to celebrate its 100th year in business.

President Tim Goligoski said he expects 900 customers, suppliers, government officials, and others related to the firm at its party tomorrow evening at its Maumee office.

The company, which employs 150 and has recent annual revenues of $36 million, is one of the oldest and largest of its type in the area. It has supplied materials for numerous buildings that have become local landmarks.

Scott and Waite high schools, the Anthony Wayne Bridge, Toledo Zoo, and the National City Bank Building were built in the early years. More recently, the company supplied products for the Medical College of Ohio and numerous corporate headquarters and major factories. Now, it is working on the downtown Mud Hens stadium.

“They basically do what they say they'll do and that's not something you can say about everyone today,” said John Wagner, president of E.S. Wagner Co., a highway contractor in Oregon.

The company got its start when Adam Kuhlman, the son of German immigrants, joined with Richard Kind to form the Kuhlman-Kind Co. selling building materials. On April 12, 1901, the firm merged with three other companies to become Toledo Builders Supply, predecessor of today's corporation.

In 1928, the company became Kuhlman Builders Supply & Brick Co. when Adam and his sons, Charles and Edwin, purchased it. That same year, the company started selling ready-mixed concrete.

Its new mixer truck that year cost $3,000. By the company's 75th anniversary in 1976, it was paying $50,000 for ready-mix trucks that had five to six times the capacity of the first truck. This year, those trucks - which can handle the same amount of concrete as in '76 - cost $175,000.

Such equipment at the company's eight locations in northern Ohio and southeast Michigan accounts for $15 million of its $27 million in assets, Mr. Goligoski said. The company is owned by about 20 shareholders, mostly family.

About a third of its sales are for concrete, and another third are brick and building materials, pipes, hydrants, and valves for water and sewer work, and masonry specialties. The rest are sand, gravel, and other such bulk materials.

The company sells concrete forms as far as Pennsylvania and West Virginia, brick throughout northwest Ohio, and ready-mix concrete within a half hour of its yards in Toledo, Adrian, and Monroe.

“I'd say they set the standard for concrete in northwest Ohio because they have good quality, they're very reliable, and they're really technology leaders in our area,” said Tim Alter, president of Rudolph/Libbe, Inc., general contractors in Walbridge. “They know how concrete will relate to temperature and humidity. They really know their concrete.”



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