The Champion Bridge story begins in the mid-1800's with our Founder, Zimri Wall. He began constructing numerous projects in the 1850’s and in 1871 he partnered with his brother Jonathan and formed J & Z Wall and Company. They built the Martinsville Covered Bridge in 1871 and it is still in use today (Pictured).
The Wall brothers developed a new wrought iron trussed arch bridge which was subsequently patented as the "Champion Wrought Iron Arch Bridge"
In order to expand the business, they partnered with Albert Israel Bailey in 1872 and formed The Champion Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company. The company opened a fabrication shop in Hamilton, Ohio, and in 1875 built a larger shop in Wilmington, Ohio.
The partnership was incorporated in 1878 and the business continued to expand. At that time Peter Clevenger became the companies first President and A.I. Bailey served as general manager. Zimri Wall continued to run the road crew until 1880 when he decided to leave the company.
In 1893, Champion Bridge moved to it's present location on East Sugartree Street (Pictured).
With the right personnel in place and the new shop, Champion Bridge was poised for several decades of growth.
During the first two decades of the 1900’s Champion had erection crews building bridges in all the southern states east of the Mississippi river. In addition to the Wilmington plant, Champion Bridge opened offices in Birmingham, AL (later moved to Atlanta) and Chattanooga, TN.
In the 1920’s Ralph J. Miars, an employee of Champion Bridge, saw how heavily Champion relied on bridges and urged management to diversify the company. He began to develop accounts with Hamilton Coke and Iron later (American Rolling Mills Company ARMCO), Allis Chalmers, and several general contractors such as John Pool of Dayton. Miars became general manager of Champion Bridge in 1931.
Due to the Great Depression and the death of two important stockholders, the decision was made to liquidate the company and appoint R.J.Miars as the receiver. The assets of the company were advertised, but no buyers were found. In 1935 R.J. Miars formed a partnership with Edward Rose and C.L. Richardson and purchased the company.
Ed Rose and Cash Richardson had sold their interest to R.J. Miars by 1951, and in 1952 R.J. sold
half the interest to his son Harry.
By 1972 bridge construction accounted for only 10-12% of total volume of business. Fabricated structural steel made up the bulk of the work.
In the 1980’s Harry Miars was nearing retirement, so the decision was made to form an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Harry retired in the late 80’s and Marvin Beasley, who had come to the company from ARMCO in 1969, became President. The ESOP was ended in the early 90’s and today the company is owned and operated by the Randy Dell family (Pictured).
Today Champion Bridge employs sixteen people. The majority of the business is supplying structural steel to general contractors in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus. In addition to the local markets, Champion Bridge has sent steel to Hawaii, Yugoslavia, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, Pakistan, Kuwait, Mexico, Thailand, and all of the surrounding states. Champion also continues to supply numerous companies and people with metal, and started manufacturing and renting trailers, the Strong Haulers. As the company nears its 150th anniversary the quality and innovation of our work and its commitment to our community could not be stronger.