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The year was 1947.  World War II was over, the devastated countries of Europe were preparing to rebuild under the Marshall Plan, and the deep Depression was still on the minds of many Americans.  After 15 years of war and economic instability, the country was ready for a rebirth, setting the stage for a construction boom of homes, schools, churches, roads and bridges, manufacturing plants and retail stores.  The United Nations opened its doors for the first time.  The shopping center was born.  Cars replaced railroad and streetcar travel.  Healthcare began to be seen as an option for the needy, infirm and aged. The medical industry proliferated.

Entrepreneurship, under the free market system, recognized the need for a manufactured lightweight aggregate to replace coal-burning-boiler cinders from railway locomotives, which disappeared with the advent of diesel engines.  That year, the rotary kiln patent for expanding shale expired, and no fewer than 40 companies rushed to enter the lightweight aggregate business.  Southern Lightweight Aggregate Corporation led the pack, being incorporated by its founder, John W. Roberts.


Seven months later, Solite shipped its first two railcars of lightweight aggregate for the manufacture of masonry units. One went to Charleston, SC, the other to Charleston, WV, to block plants that had formerly used coal cinders.

Solite served the block industry with a lightweight aggregate, trademarked Solite® and Kenlite®. Products made with these materials had no staining, were lighter in weight, and were more appealing to architects and designers. The result was that the block industry proliferated with hundreds of production plants.  It was our technical people who developed the staining test method which is included in ASTM C330 today.  In fact, it was Solite’s chairman, John W. Roberts, who authored ASTM C330 in the early 1950s.


At that time, the New York skyline was taking its modern day shape, as buildings designed by such noted architects as Paul Weidlihger and Fred Severud, climbed higher than ever. Trains and barges loaded with Solite® were shipped to the Big Apple for construction of numerous New York City landmarks, including Lincoln Center, and many of the skyline buildings built after 1960.

It was the beginning of Northeast Solite’s tradition of being the industry leader.  Most of the time, our standard products met our users’ every needs.  When they did not, we built our reputation on producing requirements to order, such as the specialized geofill under the then New York Central Railroad tracks at West Point, NY.


Continuing that tradition of innovation and service, founder John W. Roberts now serves the company as its chairman and treasurer, overseeing market development, new product research, and process improvement.

We proudly celebrate 60 years of providing the highest quality, most innovative and ecologically sound construction products available today.

Our two operating companies (Northeast Solite Corporation, 1961, and Kentucky Solite Corporation, 1972) are backed up by two coal reserve companies, several strategically located distribution plants, development properties, and land holding companies for future expansion.