History of Giant Cement Company
The history of Giant Cement Company can be traced back to the birthplace of the Portland Cement industry in the United States in the Lehigh Valley of northeastern Pennsylvania. This area not only witnessed the founding of the industry, but it also soon became the greatest cement producing center of the United States, producing, at its peak, 75% of the output of the country in 1897. Prior to this date, this nation imported most of its cement from Europe.
The Giant Cement Company connects its roots to the pioneer of cement production in the United States, David O. Saylor. Saylor was a business associate of Robert W. Lesley, who in 1883 formed the American Improved Cements Company in Egypt, Pennsylvania, adjacent to Saylor’s company, the Copely Cement Company. A few years later, AICC shortened its name to American Cement Company. In 1914, Giant Portland Cement Company emerged with the combined assets of the Copely Cement Company and the American Cement Company.
With the advent of the automobile and the migration of people heading south for vacations and warmer weather, the Southeastern United States quickly developed the need for new roads, bridges, and buildings. In a strategic move to capitalize on this expansion and to increase the company’s market share, Giant Portland Cement Company executives found a government advertisement for a vacant wartime Alumina plant located outside of Harleyville, South Carolina. In 1947, they purchased the original 1,750 acres and buildings and commenced operations as the Carolina Giant Cement Company.
Giant was the first cement company in South Carolina. During its first year of production, 1949, Giant delivered 110,000 tons of cement to its customers. The quarry covered less than two acres. The plant was in a rural area, with highway 453 ending at the plant.
It was soon discovered that the soft limestone/marl of South Carolina was much easier to mine than the hard limestone of the Pennsylvania Lehigh Valley, leading to increasied cement production at the new site.
The Harleyville plant went through major expansions in 1952, 1957, 1962, and 1974, including the installation of Kilns 2, 3, 4, and 5, as well as the installation of the first baghouse used on a wet kiln. The commissioning of our new dry-process kilns replacing the wet-process kilns took place in March, 2005.
The Giant Portland Cement Company closed its Egypt site in 1969. The next year the Company’s corporate headquarters were moved from Pennsylvania plant to Columbia, South Carolina. The headquarters moved to the Giant Cement plant in Harleyville in 1985, and then nine years later relocated in Summerville, South Carolina.
In 1984, Keystone Cement Company and Giant Cement Company became part of Giant Group Limited.
Giant Group Limited remained the parent company until 1994, when a new parent company was formed, Giant Cement Holding, Incorporated (GCHI). GCHI was publicly-traded on the NASDAQ, with Giant and Keystone as the two primary subsidiaries. On December 9, 1999, Cementos Portland Valderrivas, SA, of Madrid, Spain, purchased GCHI and all its subsidiaries. Cementos Portland is controlled by Fomento de Construcciones y Contratos(FCC), an international construction company with executive offices in Spain.