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Adam L. Beck. Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, abounds in natural resources, a number of which consist of elements which enter into the manufacture of some of the modern implements of progress, and the chief of these has contributed to the establishment and growth of the Oklahoma Portland Cement Company of Ada, Oklahoma, of which enterprise Adam L. Beck is president. So important has become the cement industry of the state that the name of Ada is almost synonymous with that of this company, for it is the chief manufacturing concern of the state, and one of the largest.
Since early manhood, Adam L. Beck has made a study of cement and its products, and when the Ada plant was established, men who had spent the greater part of their lives in the industry were associated with him. Thus, with veritable mountains of the necessary ingredients for the best possible kind of cement at its very door, the company has built up the largest cement plant in the state, and one of the largest in the Southwest. The institution is one of the most important in industrial lines in Oklahoma, and three-fourths of the Government and other public buildings of the Southwestern territory served by this company contain the product of this plant. To Mr. Beck’s knowledge and industry the institution is principally indebted for the remarkable success it has made and its high standing among the industrial institutions of the Southwest.
Mr. Beck was born at Huntington, Indiana, May 9, 1862, and is the son of Adam and Magdalena (Stetzel) Beck. His father, who was a native of Germany and who settled in Indiana in 1848, was for a number of years a successful manufacturer of wagons, and later in life entered the lime business. His mother was a native of Alsace when that province belonged to France, and came with her brothers to America and settled in Indiana in 1842.
The institutional education of Adam L. Beck was obtained in the public schools of Indiana and a business school at Naperville, Illinois, which he attended for two years. Having early acquired a knowledge of the rudiments of construction work, he entered business for himself as a road and bridge contractor, in 1884, in Indiana. Three years later he entered the lime manufacturing business as senior member of the firm of Beck & Purviance at Huntington, the name later being changed to the Western Lime Company. This company, with several others, was later merged into the Ohio & Western Lime Company, and in this business he is still interested as a stockholder director and officer. In 1893, severing active connection with the Western Lime Company, he established a lime plant at Mitchell, Indiana, which later was sold to the Kelly Island Lime & Transport Company, of Cleveland, Ohio.
During his residence in Indiana Mr. Beck was active in the politics of the republican party, serving at different times as the Chairman of his county and district, and as a member of the State Executive Committee he showed rare ability as an organizer and politician. He never held or ran for an elective office, nor did he hold an appointive office. His activities in this line ceased with his removal from Indiana.
Mr. Beck was married June 17, 1887, to Miss Lizzie Purviance, of Huntington, Indiana, who is a daughter of Samuel Montgomery Purviance, one of the earliest business men of that city and the founder of the First National Bank of Huntington. They have two children: a son, Marshall Beck, who is connected with the Oklahoma Portland Cement Company, and is a graduate of Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois; and a daughter, Magdalena, who is the wife of Paul M. Taylor, a capitalist and banker of Huntington, Indiana. Mr. Beck has two sisters: Mrs. Martha Bolanz, who is the wife of a farmer living at Huntington, Indiana; and Mrs. Mary Smith, who is the wife of a lumber dealer at Huntington. Mr. Beck is a member of the Masonic and Elks lodges, and of the Association of American Portland Cement Manufacturers. In 1910 he assisted in the organization of the Oklahoma Manufacturers’ Association of which he is president at this time. He is an active member also of the Ada Commercial Club, and one of the town’s leading, most progressive and most public-spirited citizens.
In 1906, having investigated the resources of the Pontotoc County region in Oklahoma, Mr. Beck conceived the idea of the erection at Ada of the plant of the Oklahoma Portland Cement Company. The company was organized and the erection of the plant was commenced that year. The company was incorporated with a capital stock of $300,000, but the business increased so rapidly, due to the growing demand for cement all over the Southwest, that the capital stock of necessity was increased, and in 1911 the last increase to $800,000 was made. While, from the time of its inception, Mr. Beck has given practically his entire attention to the business, he did not move his family to Ada and actually become a citizen of Oklahoma until 1910.
The plant of the Oklahoma Portland Cement Company now has a daily capacity of 3,000 barrels, this maximum capacity being reached gradually in the growth of the business, and to compete with other large plants of the kind in Kansas and Texas. Besides being equipped with the most modern machinery, the plant is now operated with natural gas, which has been discovered in great quantities within a few miles of the institution. It contains four large kilns, all of which are 125 feet long–two being 9 feet in diameter, and two 7½ feet in diameter. Turbine and Corliss engines and water tube boilers constitute the power equipment, developing over 3,000 horsepower. The grinding of the product through fullermills, each of which contains a 20-mesh sieve with 400 openings to the square inch, is so efficiently done that 95 per cent of the product passes through a 100-mesh sieve containing 10,000 openings to the square inch. Other fuller and tube mills for handling the raw material produce a product of approximately 98 per cent through the same sieve. It has been demonstrated that in no other region in the world is found a quality of raw material so ideally adapted in chemical combination to the purpose of cement-making. The ingredients of this cement are higher in percentage than “a normal American Portland cement which meets the standard specifications for soundness, setting time and tensile strength,” according to the Bureau of Standards of the United States Government, the percentage running approximately as follows: silica, 21%, alumina, 7.13%, iron oxide, 3.5% lime, 62.21%, magnesia, 1.83%, sulphuric anhydride, 1.46%; loss on ignition, 2.12%.
The brand of the product “OK,” which is registered as a trade mark with the United States Government, is a standard of excellence, and represents an abbreviation of the word “Oklahoma,” and the quality of excellence denoted by the combination of the two letters. The quality is attested by the fact that never has a barrel of the product been condemned, and also by the fact that it compares with the German standard–the highest in the world.
The officers of the Oklahoma Portland Cement Company are: Adam L. Beck, Ada, Oklahoma, president; A. T. Howe, Chicago, Illinois (president of the Marblehead Lime Company), vice-president; Geo. L. Kice, Ada, Oklahoma, secretary, J. M. Wintersmith, Ada, Oklahoma, treasurer and purchasing agent; William L. Whitaker, Ada, Oklahoma, manager in charge of plant operation; W. Sloan Creveling, Ada, Oklahoma, chemist; and Claude Rodarmel, Ada, Oklahoma, superintendent. All of these men have had many years of experience in the cement business, and all now connected immediately with the plant have been there since its establishment.
Mr. Beck and the men associated with him are twentieth-century men. They take an important part in every movement intended to advance the educational, commercial and agricultural interests of the city, county and state. The company pays one-sixth of the taxes imposed for the expense of the city government and the conduct of the schools. They are advancing the cause of agriculture in the county through demonstration activities on their own land. In 1915 they planted forty-five acres in wheat, sixty-five acres in oats, forty acres in corn and fifty acres in alfalfa, all of which were treated by the most improved methods, which demonstrated the high character of the soil for agricultural purposes. They have three large silos, the ensilage from which is fed to a fine bunch of mules. Poland-China hogs of the highest breed are also raised, and in the office of the company may be found accurate information relating to every phase of the lines of agriculture and stockraising in which they are engaged, as well as all details necessary for instructing and urging the proper and varied uses of cement.