Its Birth.Slurry Systems, Inc. was founded in 1977 by Fred Schmednecht, who, at that time, was also co-owner of a major pile driving company in the Midwest. Fred earned his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering from Purdue University and worked his way up through the ranks at that company, eventually owning 50% of the business.
In 1975, Fred was engaged by the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) for a large project in Wheatfield, Indiana, which presented some unique challenges. The use of steel sheet piling was prohibitively expensive for the project, which would require more than a million feet of retaining wall. Fred was aware of a project that was going on at the time in Austria, along the Danube River. The project was being done by the Phillip Holtzman Company and the challenge was to raise the level of the river for a new hydro system. Fred traveled to Austria where he worked with Holtzman engineers and learned about a new slurry wall system. He returned to the U.S., armed with this new knowledge, and set to work to improve upon what he had learned. Stricter codes in the U.S. demanded that the slurry walls be of uniform thickness and less permeable. Fred came up with ways to meet the stringent code requirements, and fabricated equipment to provide the consistency required for the successful completion of the project.
The project was completed on time and far below what the cost would have been, had steel sheet piling been used. Fred continued to perfect the process, materials, and equipment and applied for and was granted the first U.S. and Canadian patents for the vibrated beam technology used in the process. This laid the foundation on which Slurry Systems, Inc. was built. He is still active in the business.
A Family Enterprise.Fred had a son and two daughters, each of whom worked in the family business. The eldest, Eric, following in his father’s footsteps, earned a degree in engineering from Purdue University. He worked in the business while in school and after graduation, but he became ill and passed away in 1996. Dana Wesolek is a graduate engineer who earned her degree from the University of Michigan in 1991. Her early career was spent as an engineer for the City of Los Angeles, but she returned to the Midwest to help in the family business as her brother’s health began to fail. Another of Fred’s daughters, Gail, worked in the business for a time, but had other aspirations and left the company in late 1997.
A Woman Owned Business. Fred transferred ownership of Slurry Systems, Inc. to his daughters and Dana is the President of the company. She is involved in every aspect of the business, which she knows inside-out. Fred is still active in the business and has no plans for retirement, as he loves the business and enjoys taking on the challenges presented by various projects.