When visionaries think of ways to solve problems and build a better future, they often turn to nature’s offerings. That was the case for Robert W. Sidley, a hard-working farmer who believed Northeast Ohio’s rich supply of aggregate and mineral resources combined with its access to Lake Erie and inland waterways would be a perfect location to support the region’s growth on the heels of the Great Depression.
Realizing the value in untouched land deposits, Robert and his fiancé, Edith Cooper, purchased a 250-plus acre farm in rural Thompson, Ohio in 1932. The farm included an abandoned, run-down farmhouse that functioned as the married couple’s home and first business headquarters for R.W. Sidley, which Robert founded in 1933 as a mining and manufacturing company.
Initially, the company supplied gravel to nearby townships that were beginning to replace soil paths with unpaved gravel. Nearby property owners also sought out the Sidley’s gravel for their driveways. Gravel mining during that era was labor-intensive and dangerous. Work was carried out without heavy machinery or modern safety equipment. At the Sidley’s fledgling pit operation, Robert and his crew used a mobile Davey air compressor to drill holes into the earth before blasting out the gravel with dynamite. The rock then had to be broken up by hand and manually loaded into pickup trucks and trailers. Delivery drivers would pass by the Sidley’s kitchen window, where Edith would visually estimate the amount of gravel in a given load and wave them on their way. Without truck scales, Robert relied on her trained eye to track how much product was sold and delivered.
Robert’s profits allowed for the purchase of a mechanical crusher and a Brownhoist power shovel. While these investments no doubt improved efficiency and output, tough challenges laid ahead for the company. Harsh Ohio winters caused the ground to freeze, halting gravel mining seasonally. To survive financially, the Sidleys put their Thompson farm to use. They raised livestock for years and eventually purchased additional parcels of land. When World War II came along, several R.W. Sidley workers were either drafted or enlisted, all but putting a stop to gravel production. Robert accepted a government contract to participate in the construction of a war manufacturing plant in Ashtabula, Ohio, which further sidetracked his plans to acquire and mine local quarries.
Foreseeing better times ahead, the Sidleys persevered. The business was formally incorporated in 1938, shortly before Robert and Edith purchased and renovated the grand Italianate-style Casement House in Painesville, Ohio. Once owned by General John “Jack” Casement (a Union Army leader and railroad contractor) and his wife, Francis Jennings Casement (a prominent women’s rights activist), the Nationally Registered Historic building has served as R.W. Sidley’s headquarters since 1964. Robert W. Sidley died suddenly in 1961 at age 55, leaving a lasting legacy and memorable impact behind. The Sidley’s oldest son, Robert C. Sidley, assumed leadership of the company his parents founded.
Over the years, R.W. Sidley expanded its products and services to include a broad range of construction solutions used in today’s building, renovation, and landscaping markets. As our company grew, so did its reach – enabling us to support mega-scale projects for customers from all locales – including those located across the country and Canada. Four Sidley generations later, we continue to operate as a family-owned company well known in our communities and supported by many loyal customers.
Robert W. Sidley’s brother Dominic operates a Bucyrus-Erie 10-B shovel, which replaced hand digging.
R.W. Sidley was named an official Mack Truck distributor.
R.W. Sidley, Inc. Historic Timeline 1933 - 2022
R.W. stripping dirt to reach the conglomerate level at Strong Farm pit.
Robert W. Sidley, founder of R.W. Sidley, Inc., and his wife Edith.
The couple purchased their original Thompson, Ohio farm.
Robert W. Sidley with his first Davey air compressor.
Silica mining operations began.
R.W. Sidley was formerly incorporated on March 23, 1938.
Ready-mix concrete operations began.