Photo Postcard of aerial view of Wagner Quarry – 1960

On your way through Erie County, you have probably driven by it a million times – 486 acres of impressive industry dating back to 1912. Do you know what we’re talking about? Don’t feel bad if you haven’t noticed it, but take note now. Wagner Quarry, a part of Hanson Aggregates (a HeidelbergCement Group Company), is looked upon as a model in the aggregates industry. Looking back over the 200 years of Sandusky’s history, it’s hard to remember a time when this rock mining and crushing facility was not a key player in the local economy. Looking forward, Wagner will use a few of their keys to success to continue contributing to our vibrant county.

Longevity, Reputation, Recognition

Building and maintaining a compelling reputation over 106 years is no easy task. Wagner has achieved this through each of its employees having a sense of ownership and pride for the company. Each employee, no matter their area of expertise, knows and respects that they’ve been in business since 1912, and takes it upon themselves to ensure that they’ll continue to be in business. They do this through good stewardship of the natural resources available at the quarry, ensuring quality and consistent product. It’s this kind of quality and consistency that led Wagner Quarry to become the second quarry in the state to achieve S1069 pre-approval from the Ohio Department of Transportation as a pre-qualified aggregate supplier. This was intentionally achieved through their strong internal processes and good relationships with customers such as ODOT.

Part of the Neighborhood

Relationship building is a priority for Wagner not only with their customers, but with their neighbors and the community as well. While Perkins Township and Sandusky have grown up around Wagner, the quarry has never had a “we were here first” attitude, instead, they’ve looked to grow with the community, continuing to contribute to the strong tax base while prioritizing reducing their impact on the quality of life. For example, for their closest neighbors, Wagner distributes e-mail notifications, alerting residents of upcoming blasts. The plant manager personally introduces himself to new neighbors, both families and businesses. To Wagner, being a good neighbor is about more than just how they do business. The caring and giving heart of Wagner has grown with the business for 106 years. In addition to the highly publicized community outreach events such as Touch-A-Truck and local Fire Department training, Wagner staff help their neighbors on a regular basis with gestures such as taking Ohio Veterans Home residents to Cavs games, taking guests of Victory Kitchen grocery shopping, and painting at the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services in Sandusky.

Producing Locally, Buying Locally

Further expanding Erie County’s tax base and continuing their model of giving back to the community, Wagner prioritizes buying locally. Each year they do hundreds of thousands of dollars in local business, patronizing businesses such as O.E. Meyer, Fastenal, and Galloway Brothers. Further contributing to the prosperity of the region, proximity and access to these aggregate materials allows local businesses to keep construction costs down. Some projects Wagner has supplied include Cedar Point Sports Center, the Edison Bridge, and of course local schools and ballfields.

Keys to Success

Norm Jacobs, Plant Manager; Bill Hoelzer, Sales Representative; Dick Reel, Staff. These leaders represent today’s collaborative culture and have combined experience of 103 years with the company.

Just how can an organization maintain this success for so long? It’s not without self-reflection, change, and improvement. For Wagner, reaching their current level of collaboration and innovation came from breaking down barriers between their sales and production teams. In the traditional business model, and at many quarries still today, these teams operate largely independently, creating miscommunication, waste, inefficiencies, and dissatisfied customers. Over the last 20 years Wagner has strived to change this culture and has seen a generational improvement, giving them competitive advantage in the industry going forward.

Through many changes and evolutions including an international buyout, Wagner Quarry has kept its name and identity; self-reflection and intentional action have defined the past hundreds of years for both Wagner and Sandusky. Both are looking toward the future.

View this story’s photo gallery here.