Doe Run Shares Historical View of its 150th Anniversary: Mining During The Great Depression
9 Jul 2014
Doe Run Retiree Recalls Monumental Era in the Old Lead Belt
ST. LOUIS (July 9, 2014) – As The Doe Run Company (Doe Run) celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, the company recognizes how employee commitment and strategic business planning have shaped its success throughout its history. One such pivotal milestone was the Great Depression, during which time Doe Run demonstrated adaptability in spite of the economic downturn by continuing to provide jobs to Missouri miners and critical minerals to the United States.
“When the Great Depression hit it was very difficult for the Lead Belt communities of southeast Missouri, and the decisions made during that time helped the company survive,” said Aaron Miller, vice-president – operations and chief operating officer at Doe Run. “Today, we would call that taking a sustainable approach to their business by balancing social, economic and environmental needs. We still operate the same way; making decisions that are not only good for today, but that will help us continue to operate well into the future.”
Cletus Faircloth, a former mine researcher for Doe Run, recounts firsthand how the company weathered the Great Depression. His father started working in 1917 as a hand-shoveler and driller in Doe Run’s mines, then operated by the St. Joseph Lead Company (St. Joe).
“While other companies closed operations and laid off employees during this challenging time, Clinton Crane, president of St. Joe, was adamant that his company continue to operate,” said Faircloth. “Mr. Crane was determined to provide jobs so employees, like my father, could continue working through the Great Depression. To accommodate the market slump, employee hours were cut back to one week a month to avoid layoffs and still provide a bit of income for every employee.”
Despite the economic challenges of the Great Depression that closed many mines across the country, St. Joe’s strategic operational changes allowed the company to continue to mine. The lead inventory accumulated due to the company’s policy of maintaining employment at the highest possible level.
Faircloth’s father was one of many St. Joe employees permitted to work one week each month during the Great Depression, earning approximately $2 a day. By continuing to employ people in this manner, layoffs were minimal. Faircloth grew up on a farm that cost $10 a month, and while he remembers his parents striving to make ends meet, he also admires the support they received from St. Joe.
“In addition to maintaining some mining operations, the company plowed and irrigated gardens on company property so employees could grow food to feed their families,” said Faircloth. “Employees were also able to cut wood from company forestland for heating and cooking. Without St. Joe’s support, many local families would not have survived those difficult years.”
In 1936, Faircloth’s older brother was one of the first employees hired by St. Joe after the Great Depression ended. Faircloth himself followed in the family footsteps, joining the company in 1950. He retired as a mine researcher in 1986, where he worked on improving machinery used in drilling and loading. After 1986, Faircloth continued to serve Doe Run as a part-time contractor for 15 years. Today, Cletus Faircloth considers Doe Run a part of his heritage, and is proud to be a part of the company’s 150th anniversary.
Faircloth and other employees and retirees recount their experience with Doe Run in the company’s 150th anniversary video, available at https://doerundev.com/MediaCenter/BroadcastLibrary.aspx.
For more information about major milestones throughout Doe Run’s history, visit the company’s interactive timeline at http://doeruncelebrates150.com/.
About The Doe Run Company
Based in St. Louis, The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and a global provider of lead, copper and zinc concentrates. Dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production, Doe Run operates one of the world’s largest, single-site lead recycling centers, located in Boss, Missouri. The Doe Run Company and its subsidiaries deliver products and services necessary to provide power, protection and convenience. Doe Run has operations in Missouri, Washington and Arizona. For more information, visit www.doerun.com and sustainability.doerun.com.