The story of Ash Grove Cement Company, which was founded in 1882, is really the story of the growth of America, beginning with its great westward expansion in the second half of the 19th century. This growth was characterized by new cities and towns that soon became the anchors for unparalleled expansion into the suburbs, driven by the automobile and ultimately networked by the airplane into the prosperous country we know today.
One of the great common denominators of this expansion was a growing infrastructure of road surfaces and parking surfaces, of buildings and warehouses, of shopping complexes and entertainment centers, of neighborhood sidewalks and driveways and apartment houses and underground garages. Building all these things takes a lot of cement, concrete and aggregate. And that is exactly what Ash Grove Cement Company does.
The Sunderland family has been associated with successful management of the Ash Grove Cement Company since 1909, when Lester (LT) Sunderland became vice president of the company, then known as the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company.
LT assumed the presidency in 1913 and with a steady hand guided the fledgling company through early growth, a near-collapse during the Great Depression, and the rigorous demands of two World Wars. He was followed by his son, the legendary 'Mr. Paul,' who remained active until his death at age 107; by Robert and James, his grandsons and now, by Charlie as chairman and brother Kent as vice-chairman - both grandsons, in turn, of Paul.
Today, Ash Grove makes the products that build the superstructure of an ever-changing, ever-growing America through seven companies in nine plants in 17 states across the Western half of the United States.