Brief History of Arkhola
1911 to 2020
Arkhola has been a leading supplier to the construction industry in Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma for nearly 110 years. Arkhola produces sand, crushed stone, ready-mixed concrete, hot mix asphalt, and recently entered the construction market in 2018.
It is unlikely that you could spend a day anywhere in Eastern Oklahoma or Arkansas without walking on, driving on, being sheltered by, entering a home or building, or relaxing in a recreational area, that is not, at least in part, made of materials produced by Arkhola.
Arkhola’s modest beginnings can be traced to a river bottom farm near Yahola, Oklahoma. Walter S. Dills, founder of the company, settled there after moving from Indiana around the beginning of the twentieth century. While farming was Dills’ principal vocation, he soon learned that there was a market in the area building trade for the sand and gravel which could be found in abundance on his farm. In 1911, with a team and wagon, he began weekend deliveries of these essential building materials to tradesmen in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Within two years, the demand for Dills’ sand and gravel was such that he installed a small washing and screening plant, and soon the Yahola Sand and Gravel Company was formed. Dills upgraded his production capability by acquiring an old steam powered, paddle wheel, river boat as a dredge.
Shortly after its official founding, the Company was moved to a point on the Arkansas River on the outskirts of Muskogee, Oklahoma. Then in 1926, the Dills family selected Fort Smith as the Company’s next location for growth. In 1927, the Company changed its name to Arkhola, taking the “Ark” from Arkansas and keeping the “hola” from Yahola. They soon began producing sand and gravel on Lee Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River. Floods from the Arkansas River eventually destroyed the plant and rail line forcing Arkhola to move downstream to its current Van Buren location in 1930. In the meantime, the Dills continued to operate the sand and gravel plant in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
The Dills continually looked for new ways to sell their aggregates and were pioneers in vertical integration. They entered the ready-mixed concrete business in Fort Smith in 1937, utilizing mixer-truck loads of almost two cubic yards.
In 1946, Arkhola began manufacturing concrete masonry units in its first block plant located in Fort Smith. Once again, this growth created a new source of sales for aggregates. During the 1940’s, approximately 20 producers made concrete blocks by hand in the Fort Smith area. Arkhola became the first automated concrete masonry producer in the area and was the first company west of the Mississippi River (one of only three in the United States) to utilize an autoclave, high pressure curing system.
Between1949-1951, Arkhola opened its first hot mix asphalt plant and first quarry. These plants were also located in the Fort Smith area.
In 1968, Arkhola was purchased by Ashland Oil and became a part of Ashland-Warren, Inc. (later changed to APAC). In 2000, Ashland sold all of its concrete masonry plants including Arkhola’s four plants located across Arkansas. In August 2006, Ashland Oil sold their construction and material companies to CRH.
To this day, Arkhola continues to be locally managed and operated. The Company’s successful history is a direct result of our employees’ focus on “Safety First”, quality, customer service, and being vertically integrated.
Our greatest asset is our over 300 employees that work and live in Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma. Employee satisfaction is evidenced by the number of people who have worked for Arkhola for 25-40 years. In addition, many of our current employees are second and third generation workers