Daughter of El-Jay founder reflects on father’s life’s work

By |  June 11, 2024

Louis Johnson changed elements of aggregate processing with the introduction of the Rollercone roller bearing cone crusher and the triple-shaft horizontal screen. Susan Moorhead, daughter of El-Jay Manufacturing’s Louis Johnson, reflected on her late father’s life and legacy during his induction to the Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame on March 24.

ON LEARNING HER FATHER, LOUIS JOHNSON, WAS SELECTED FOR ENSHRINEMENT TO THE PIT & QUARRY HALL OF FAME: We’re all very proud of him and believed he built the finest crushers in the world. I didn’t really take it all in until [February]. Cade Seeley of Kimball Equipment called me and asked if I was Louis Johnson’s daughter. That was quite unexpected because my father has been gone since 2007. He said he had nominated my father for the Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame. I remembered Pit & Quarry, but not a Hall of Fame. It was a little bit like getting a ring in a Cracker Jack box.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AGGREGATE INDUSTRY: While I was at the Denver airport, I looked and wondered how many square miles of concrete exist in that airport. Then, I land here (in Nashville), and as I’m being driven to the hotel, I’m looking at all the concrete everywhere. Your industry is the bedrock of civilization. We would not have civilization without you. They say food, clothing and shelter are the primary necessities for life. I think that’s wrong. It’s rock. Rock is the foundation. Nothing else could really exist without rock.

ON SPREADING THE MESSAGE OF THE INDUSTRY: You have a story that needs to be told to the world. People need to know how absolutely crucial [and] fundamental you are to their existence. If people knew what you do, if people understood the importance of your industry, I think it would make a change. If you do this already, I commend you. If you don’t, please consider it. Go into every high school on job fair day and present yourself. I think young people today are so hungry for meaning and stability in a very uncertain world. If they knew they could be a part of your very honorable profession, I think they would feel like they really could make a difference.

ON HER SON’S EULOGY FOR HER FATHER: I’d like to share what my eldest son wrote as a eulogy to my father in 2007. These are his words:

‘Rocks seem the most mundane of things, yet for grandpa, his brilliant mind was devoted to these things. I talked with my grandpa about a lot of things over the years. When the topic of the economy came around, he would express his frustration with the loss of American manufacturing. ‘We have to actually produce something’ he would say. Sometimes he would talk about the basic products society will always need. ‘Society will always need rock,’ he said.

‘It’s amazing how much our world has changed in grandpa’s lifetime, but he invested himself in something that didn’t change. No matter how technologically sophisticated we become, rocks will be needed under our feet and in the walls that shelter us. It is true that loved ones now gone live on in our hearts, but I think it might be just as appropriate to say of grandpa that he will live on in the stones beneath our feet – no matter which path of life we walk.

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About the Author:

Jack Kopanski is the Managing Editor of Pit & Quarry and Editor-in-Chief of Portable Plants. Kopanski can be reached at 216-706-3756 or jkopanski@northcoastmedia.net.

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