Miami River Stone Company: 50 Years and 3-Tiers

by Diana Barnum, Correspondent and Miami River Stone Co.

Sylvia the dog, Kristi Giddas, receptionist at desk, Janet Mullen, controller (works with software).

Even though huge corporations in the quarry industry are buying out the smaller quarries, there are some exceptions like the Miami River Stone Co. in Sidney, OH. This company serves a rural area around Shelby County, population 45,000, just outside of Dayton, and derives around 90 percent of their product from one quarry. Celebrating their 50th Anniversary, Miami River Stone Co. runs their limestone, sand and gravel operations with a 3-tiered structure.
“We have the quarry operations, our trucking company and our building and landscape stone business,” said Brad Comer, president of Miami Stone. Miami River Stone Co. offers a complete line of crushed and screened products totaling about 30 items. The building and landscape stone business offers another 30 products. Through their own growth by acquisition that includes a couple of plants nearby, their quarry operations have doubled in size; their trucking company has grown to over a dozen vehicles in the fleet and their building and landscape stone business is nearly five times larger than it was ten years ago.
Key to their success is the focus of their core operations: their customers, their quality stone, and providing service in a timely manner with top quality drivers.
“It’s the synergies of the companies, i.e. the total integration of products and service that bring both the resources and customer side together,” said Tom Milligan, CEO and owner of Miami River Stone Co. The fourth-generation owner, Milligan purchased the business from his father in 1997.

Miami River Stone Company specs: 10-12,000 ton per building stone /600-700,000 tons per year total production. This new Komatsu WA 600 is loading a Euclid 324.

History of Company and Resources
Miami River Stone Company as it exists today is the result of the joining of two long-time local aggregate producers, Sidney Sand and Gravel Company, and Miami River Stone Company. Sidney Sand and Gravel Company was established in 1922 by F.E. Milligan and William F. Milligan, and was operated for many years by the third generation of Milligans, Samuel J. and Patrick H. Milligan. Patrick Milligan was primarily involved in operating the company’s excavating division, Milligan Construction Company until he sold it in 1991 to John A. Westerheide who still owns and operates the company today. In 1988, after Samuel Milligan’s untimely death, Thomas P. Milligan came into the family business to lead the Sidney Sand and Gravel Company.
The operation at the Miami River Stone Company was begun in 1955 by the late Ralph Kerr. The company was later owned and operated by Russell Comer. In 1972, the company was sold to B & G Bituminous who brought on Sidney Sand and Gravel Co. as a fifty percent partner to assist in managing the company. In 1994, Sidney Sand and Gravel acquired B & G’s fifty percent stake in the company (which by that time was owned by Barrett Paving Materials, a French-owned concern).
This allowed for the consolidation of Sidney Sand and Gravel and Miami River Stone Company. In 1997, Thomas Milligan purchased Sidney Sand and Gravel and Miami River Stone Company from his father, Patrick, and remains the company’s owner and CEO today. Bradley Comer, who has managed the company since 1972, remains its President today. He also owns and operates Comer Trucking, Inc., which provides the majority of the stone deliveries to the company’s customers. In 1995, Miami River Stone Company started a sister company, Western Ohio Cut Stone, which produces landscape and building stone. Western Ohio Cut Stone now has three operations (Sidney, Ludlow Falls and Bryant, Indiana) and sells product throughout the Midwest and Eastern United States.
Core Philosophies
Quality - Both because of their quality limestone and sand and gravel reserves, and their attention to detail in processing, they provide products that consistently meet and exceed their customers’ expectations. The gray/blue color of their stone has an esthetic beauty that their customers seek while the physical characteristics of their product make it tough enough to meet the most demanding specifications for Interstate and airport projects.
Industry Leadership - The company’s top managers have participated actively on the industry’s state and national boards. Brad Comer is currently serving a second 6-year term on the Ohio Aggregates and Industrial Minerals Association (OAIMA) Board. Tom Milligan recently completed a term as President of that Board and currently serves as a Director on the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) Board, now the worlds largest mining industry association. Participation in these organizations not only keeps Miami River Stone up with the latest trends in technology, safety, environment and product but also positions it as a leader.
Safety - The mining industry has increased its emphasis on safety and Miami River Stone has taken an active role in promoting safety. All of their operating personnel are MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration) trained professionals working hard to make their operations safe for themselves and their customers.
Environment - Today, care for the environment is of the utmost concern for many and in such an environmentally intensive business as mining, Miami River Stone is committed to maintaining a high standard in this area. From air permits and water discharge permits to operating and reclamation permits, they report having met or exceeded all standards required of them. They recently won an award for their efforts on the River Road, an area that has been transformed into an attractive residential road.

Thomas Milligan, CEO, (right), Brad Comer, president of Miami Stone (left).

Drivers for Comer Trucking, Inc. travel throughout an approximate 30-mile radius reaching across four counties. Fuel economy is of top concern with the higher pricing today. And cost pressures are reported to be as great as they’ve always been, for example, with blasting and labor-related issues, particularly health insurance. For help in monitoring and controlling these challenging issues, office staff uses software by Maxwell Systems Inc. and JWS Corporation point of sale software.
Cost pressures with state budget and local government funds (infrastructure dollars) are a concern. With their average workload coming from about fifty percent public and fifty percent private projects, Miami River Stone Co. is working with the NSSGA and OAIMA for re-authorization of the highway bill.
Other Equipment and Fleet Operations
Miami River Stone Company upgraded equipment to increase production around 20 percent. Their primary crusher is a Metso Minerals’ C110; their secondary, an HP300 cone plant for dual products, limestone and gravel. Process Machinery, Inc. of Columbus, OH, did the upgrading with their crushers, and even retrofit while they were in use.
Other equipment includes an Allis Chalmers 945 cone plant with a 5 X 16 2-deck AC screen; and a feeder and conveyor spread from Hartman Fabco, Inc.
Their fleet is made up of 6 and 7-axle trucks, with about 70 percent Kenworth, a few Sterlings, a Freightliner and a couple of Internationals. Service and parts are available in nearby Troy and Columbus.
Since communications are vital between drivers, office administration and site operators use Nextel handheld units with 2-way capability as well as the Company’s internal two-way radio system.
One successful marketing effort has been advertising on their fleet. People recognize their trucks, which bear the motto, “Your total stone source in the Northern Miami Valley.”
For more information, contact Miami River Stone Company, 1700 Miami River Rd., Sidney, OH 45365-8987; 937-492-5412 (ph); 937-492-4758 (fax). For building and landscape stone call 937-492-4722 or go online at
Reach allied customer Natural Stone Veneers International by calling toll-free 877-923-2800; or emailing:; go online at
Contact the OAIMA at 162 N. Hamilton Rd., Gahanna, OH 43230; 800-OH ROCKS (647-6257); 614-428-7919 (fax); (email) or go online at
For the NSSGA, write 1605 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-525-8788 (ph) or go online at