MEDUSA CORP. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
MEDUSA CORP., a nationally known cement company, was founded by 3 brothers, Arthur, Spencer, and Wm. Newberry, as the Sandusky Portland Cement Co. in 1892, with offices in Cleveland and a plant at Bay Bridge near Sandusky. The company was shortly renamed Medusa Portland Cement Co. for the Greek goddess Medusa, who turned all who looked at her to stone. In its first 50 years, the company, utilizing a formula for Portland cement discovered by brothers Spencer and William, expanded to 8 plants in 5 states as cement became a popular, relatively low-priced building material. Its real prosperity occurred after World War II, however, when pent-up demand for houses, schools, and hospitals and the postwar construction of local and interstate HIGHWAYS increased the use of cement. Medusa enjoyed record sales nearly every year during the 1950s, and by 1959 the company had outgrown its offices in the Midland Bldg. and constructed new headquarters at 3008 Monticello Blvd. in CLEVELAND HEIGHTS The firm expanded and modernized its facilities, doubling its production between 1952 and 1963 and marketed innovative cement products that were precast, prestressed, and pigmented. Acquisitions, beginning in 1969, involved the firm in a variety of building-material and construction operations. In 1972 the company shortened its name to Medusa Corp., and in the late 1970s merged with Crane Co. of New York, a manufacturer of plumbing fixtures, steel, and building products. Crane operated Medusa as a separate subsidiary, with headquarters in Cleveland. In 1982, however, Medusa left the Crane Co. to once again become an independent corporation. In 1993, Medusa acquired a cement plant in Demopolis, Alabama, for $50 million and, under the guidance of senior vice president Phillip W. Gutman, who negotiated new contracts with local utilities and orchestrated other cost saving measures, the purchase increased Medusa's capacity to make cement by 30 percent. By 1995, Medusa employed 90 persons locally and owned 4 cement plants, 10 quarries, and several terminals in 12 states. The following year, the company reported a net income of $52.4 million on revenues of nearly $323.4 million. Early in 1998, Medusa acquired Commonwealth Stone, a producer of crushed-stone based in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The merger increased Medusa's output of aggregate construction materials by over 25 percent to over 7 million tons annually. Later that year, Medusa annouced that it would be acquired by Southdown Inc., a Houston-based cement producer, for $1 billion in stock. The merger created the second largest (and the largest domestically owned) cement company in the country with operations in 11 states. The merger moved Medusa's operations in Cleveland Heights to Houston and left Southdown with a 15-year, $7 million lease for a 3-story office building at 3300 Enterprise Pkwy in BEACHWOOD that was, constructed to serve as Medusa's new headquarters. In 1999, Southdown, Inc. completed a deal to transfer the property to the Developers Diversified Realty Corp.