Indiana Limestone Co. back on solid ground after bankruptcy

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A southern Indiana limestone supplier known for furnishing the Empire State Building and the Pentagon's facades is back on solid ground a year after filing for bankruptcy protection.

Indiana Limestone Co. has doubled its annual excavation figures and added 43 jobs since it was acquired last May by Chicago-based equity firm Wynnchurch Capital following its Chapter 11 filing.

The limestone supplier and fabricator has also reduced its limestone delivery time to three to four weeks, giving it a big advantage in the construction industry over competitors who still need eight to 10 weeks of lead time.

"That's really what has driven a lot of business to us. We're starting to feel the pressure now," Thomas Quigley, Indiana Limestone's chief executive, told The Herald-Times of Bloomington.

Quigley had been an executive at building materials company Owens Corning and the conglomerate Ingersoll Rand before joining Indiana Limestone last May. He said the company's previous owners didn't invest in growing customers or updating equipment.

When it filed for bankruptcy protection last May, the company owed $50 million to more than 1,000 creditors.

All 166 employees were laid off on May 2, 2014, but Wynnchurch Capital quickly bought the limestone supplier and fabricator for $26 million and hired back 120 of the company's former stonecutters. Since then, the operation has added 43 workers.

Indiana Limestone now has more shifts, some as late as 1 a.m., at its fabrication mills to increase productivity and output. The company has also invested in safety, including purchasing machines that place employees farther from the huge slabs of limestone as they're being worked.

Employees who endure southern Indiana's heat during the peak months of operation between March and October also have a new break room equipped with air conditioning.

Indiana Limestone officials said the company is on track to excavate 2 million cubic feet of limestone this year — more than double 2013's pre-bankruptcy figure of 900,000 cubic feet.

It has also hired a public relations firm to focus on keeping limestone relevant. That push will include a promotional video of its quarries filmed by a camera-equipped drone.

And Indiana Limestone's portfolio now boasts numerous contemporary designs demonstrating how limestone, steel and glass can work harmoniously on the same project.

"Even though limestone has been around for a long time, we have to make ourselves fresh and new each year to young architects," said Duffe Elkins, the company's chief operating officer.

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