With a fleet of 16 ready-mix trucks and 30 full-time
employees, the company yard at 800 South Ninth Street rumbles with activity during
construction season as a steady stream of the signature blue and teal trucks
come and go. In 1993 a second $1.5 million plant opened just south
of Parkway Pointe on Springfield's west side. The company also runs a commercial
doors operation out of the 9th street location.
a family heritage Rob and Mary
Jo Nelch, the brother-sister team now in charge of the company, can see
buildings, streets and sidewalks nearly anywhere they go in
Springfield. In 2010 Rob's daughter Lauren joined the team, making her
the 6th generation of Nelch to work at the company.
Among the better-known projects that
include Nelch handiwork: The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Washington Park,
The Renaissance hotel in downtown Springfield, the Illinois Bell tower, St.
John's Hospital, the Sangamon County Building and the Franklin Life
building. Several state buildings, including portions of the executive
mansion, also Nelch concrete. Sidewalks poured by company founder, Henry
Nelch can still be seen in Leland Grove neighborhoods. Most of the brick
streets created by Nelch and Son have since been paved over.
Henry Nelch, the son of German
immigrant parents, was born near Beardstown in 1852. He worked as a
grocery store clerk and also was one of the city's first letter carriers.
But eventually he took up the brick mason trade that the family had brought
over from Germany.
The firm of Nelch, Patterson &
Striffler was founded in 1883. It accepted contracts for paving city
streets with brick and installing sewer lines and eventually went into
construction and building materials work.
In 1896, Nelch went exclusively into
the building materials business, founding Henry Nelch and Son. The
"son" was Benjamin Franklin Nelch, great-grandfather of Rob and Mary
Jo. The original plant was near 10th and Jackson streets. It moved
to the present location in 1906. Throughout, there has been a Nelch at
the head of the firm.
Nelch and Son is thought to be the oldest
continuously family-owned operation in Illinois and among the oldest in the