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Oklahoma City's Amis Materials Co. comes to an end with auction

Family business started in 1900 with mule teams, blasted a way through the Arbuckle Mountains for I-35, rose to presidential heights by building airplanes in the 1950s, and moved earth for 1960s nuclear missile silos, among other interesting things.
by Richard Mize Published: October 20, 2012

Huge turn-of-the-20th-century mule teams, believe it or not, are not the most interesting aspects of the late Amis Materials Co.'s history and legacy.

Mules don't come up that often in everyday conversation. They were, however, the first interesting thing in Amis business history. So, David Amis, 82, who ran the company since 1985, and I talked about mules for a minute Friday morning.

His grandfather, R.T. Amis, and great-uncle, Gil Amis, started the family business in Roswell, N.M., as a drayage and commercial construction company. It shut down last summer.

Robert Hawks Auction Co. — — will sell excavators, trucks, trailers and other equipment at 10 a.m. Wednesday at 1647 Exchange Ave., where Amis Materials Co. has been located since 1946.

Drayage doesn't come up that often in everyday conversation, but then it's not every day that you start out talking about a 112-year-old business that started out with a bunch of mules — more than 100 of the critters.

“Drayage” is the short-haul trucking of goods and materials — by carts pulled by dray horses or mules back in the day, by short-haul truckers moving containerized goods between long-haul freighters today.

Amis rattled off some other technical terms, like “shooting,” which, in excavation and blasting, is what you do with ammonium nitrate as a blasting agent to have your way with the earth for, say, a new highway, a dam, runway or what have you.

Amis Materials Co. did more than its share of it over the past 112 years. The story ends in 2012 with David Amis and his wife, Susan, since none of their children are interested in keeping it going.

The family business went from Roswell to Kansas City, Mo., around 1910-12 to do work for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway; then to Muskogee and eventually to Watonga, Waurika, Chickasha, Woodward — Coldwater, Kan., was somewhere in there — before coming to Oklahoma City and staying in 1940.

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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