In 1926, a young entrepreneur in Elgin, Illinois understood how important transportation would be to future development in the United States. W.R. ‘Bob” Meadows realized that seasonal conditions played havoc to the expansion and contraction of concrete and saw an opportunity how to control these forces by developing asphalt and wood fiber expansion joints.
It turned out to be the genesis for creating W. R. MEADOWS. Mr. Meadows purchased a building on Kimball Street in Elgin to serve as a manufacturing plant for his first product SEALTIGHT Asphalt Expansion joint filler. Located about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, Elgin was a bustling river town with a population of 30,000 and would be home to the company’s headquarters until the late 1990s. The need for more space required a move to farmland in Hampshire, about 10 miles away. Despite recent development, W. R. MEADOWS is one of the largest businesses in the town of 5,600 people.
Products put W. R. MEADOWS on the map but people - customers and employees - have been at the forefront of its success. To recognize its 90th anniversary, the company currently is honoring employees with a yearlong tribute, using social media channels Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram to chronicle their contributions at all facilities throughout the U.S. and Canada.
From humble surroundings to manufacturing leader
Various generations of the Meadows family played key roles in making the company a manufacturing kingpin in the concrete construction industry. Today, W. R. MEADOWS has 14 manufacturing and warehouse facilities in the United States and three others in Canada.
The constant throughout the years has been W. R. MEADOWS’ reputation for quality, service and integrity in the construction community with architects, engineers, contractors and others. Asphalt Expansion joint filler was the original product, but the foundation traits Bob Meadows built upon allowed the start-up company to not only survive the crucial first year, but the Great Depression as well.
The SEALTIGHT trademark became the high level barometer for expansion and contraction joint applications. It set the tone for more new products to come but not before Bob Meadows established important company roots, often traveling throughout the country by automobile to meet and learn more about his distributors and customers. His wife, Edna, often accompanied him on many of the trips, in addition to raising their two sons.
New generation members of the Meadows family joined the company in the 1940s. Bob also hired Dale (Corky) Cork, who became the plant superintendent and served as the design and construction engineer for the company’s equipment. Known for being able to make anything, Corky was instrumental in the construction of other W. R. MEADOWS facilities until he retired in 1987.
World War II led to the creation of many new opportunities for companies throughout the U.S., and W. R. MEADOWS took the lead in developing key vapor and waterproofing products that continue to play a major role. PREMOULDED MEMBRANE VAPOR SEAL WITH PLASMATIC CORE (PMPC) was a game-changer; today, the impermeable vapor seal continues to offer the lowest water vapor transmission rates in the industry.
After the war ended, Bob’s youngest son, Harry, began working at the company full-time upon graduation from college. When Bob died in 1957, Edna determined it was time for 36-year-old Harry to run the company. Many family members have been involved with W. R. MEADOWS and some are actively involved; Harry’s daughters, Merrie Derderian and Ann Dwyer, are Vice Chairs. His grandson, Matt Price, is the company’s President and son-in-law Jim Dwyer, is CEO.
With the rise of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System - which established modern day ground travel from coast-to-coast and recognizes its 60th anniversary in June - business flourished. The introduction of HI-SPEC polymeric hot-applied sealant proved timely, providing a dependable, extended-life joint sealant that sealing contractors continue to endorse.
The push to greater success beyond the first 50 years
Company expansion in the U.S., and Canada also began to pay off. In the 1970s, a popular curing and sealing system - CS309 and TIAH - made its debut; VOC-compliant CS-209-25 was later adapted to fulfill EPA regulations. The distributor network continued to evolve, leading to formation of the Distributor Advisory Board (DAB) in 1973. DAB has continued to meet biannually, providing staff with significant input about the business and its customers. Three years later in 1976, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary.
The 1980s were marked by expansion and the beginning development of “Green” products. Corporate headquarters were built in Hampshire in 1980, although the manufacturing unit did not complete its move until 1998. A new line of water-based construction liquids were met with tremendous market approval; today it has grown to include 60, user-friendly W. R. MEADOWS GREENLINE products.
As construction demands grew, so did the MEADOWS solutions. As owners and designers strived to create more energy efficient buildings, W. R. MEADOWS developed leading technologies to help control moisture and air infiltration into buildings. These new technologies offer a full range of solutions to protect the building enclosure and assure a more energy efficient structure.
More facilities were built or added through diversification in the U.S. and Canada. W. R. MEADOWS acquired California-based DFC Company in December, 1989. It was later renamed W. R. MEADOWS of Southern California, Pomona.
Since 2000, W. R. MEADOWS has been active with other important acquisitions. In 2003, Huebert Fiberboard www.huebertfiberboard.com in Missouri was added to the company’s portfolio. It was later joined by BLUE RIDGE FIBERBOARD www.blueridgefiberboard.com to provide roof insulation and soundproofing fiberboard and further expand product capabilities.
In 2004, W. R. MEADOWS of Western Canada was born from the acquisition of ELSRO Construction Products, with offices in St. Albert, Alberta. A new manufacturing facility was built in Lloydminster, Alberta, to also serve the Western Canada market.
“As a family owned and operated business, we have dedicated ourselves to being the most valued supplier of specialty construction products in the industry,” said Harry G. Meadows, Chairman of the Board.
“My father established a company ethics policy built on providing high quality products, exceptional service and trusted integrity. We could not have accomplished all of what we have built upon in the last 90 years without the tremendous effort of our distributors and employees, whom we will be honoring throughout the year. I am extremely proud of how many people belong to or have been a part of our 25-Year-Club and 50-Year-Clubs.”