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Nelson Brothers History

Our story began in 1956 with one truck and two brothers, Dugan and Olen Nelson, who were reselling and trucking prilled oxidizer to local coal mines near Parrish, Alabama. Dugan maintained customer relationships and sales while Olen oversaw the financials. Dynamite was the preferred commercial explosive for mining at the time, but prilled oxidizer mixed with fuel oil was making inroads as it was significantly more economical and could be used to good effect. The common practice was to make the mixture at the borehole with 80-pound bags of oxidizer and fuel oil containers. The brothers observed this practice was inefficient, backbreaking work for the customer and achieved inconsistent results. Their solution was to offer a pre-mixed and correctly blended product in 50-pound bags, and they built their first plant in Parrish around this concept. Though a lot has changed over six-plus decades of growing our business, identifying better ways to serve remains foundational to everything we do.

History Timeline

1956 - Founded by Dugan and Olen Nelson in Parrish, Alabama giving customers access to low cost ANFO. They soon gain reputation for reliability and on-time delivery.

1960 - Initiates the bulk ANFO delivery systems in the Southeast saving time, money and manpower effort for its customers.

1962 - Introduction of water-resistant HD-ANFO allows customers to take high-cost dynamite out of boreholes.

1968 - New high-speed production plant with rail site is built in Parrish, AL increasing production and lowering costs of raw materials. The savings are passed on to the customers.

1981 - Nelson Brothers develops and integrates new emulsion technology by building and operating an emulsion plant that quickly becomes a model for others worldwide. Low-cost, high-energy emulsions finally become available to local customers.

1984 - Nelson Brothers pioneers NBX2000AR, a major emulsion breakthrough increasing production shelf life tenfold. Out-of-state customers finally have access to PowerNel™ emulsion.

1988 - Full production Research & Development team begins in the Quality Control Laboratory.

1989 - PIBSA technology is developed to increase quality and lower costs. Both benefits are passed on to customers.

1992 - Special chemical division started and emulsifier raw material plant is built and Nelson Brothers expands nationwide and extends cost savings with the new customer Partnership Strategy.

1994 - Nelson Brothers starts shipping emulsifier internationally.

1995 - State-of-the-art emulsion plant is built outside of Alabama in Gillette, Wyoming. Within the same year, Nelson Brothers gets a national contract with the nation’s largest aggregate producer.

1997 - Nelson Brothers is a supplier to three of the largest surface coal producers in the US.

1999 - New state-of-the-art emulsion plant is built in Cherokee, Alabama which reduces raw material costs, increases manufacturing efficiency, doubles emulsion capacity and rate, and expands quality control. Additionally, Nelson Brothers and Orica USA Inc join together to provide products and services to the Powder River Basin by creating Nelson Brothers Mining Services LLC.

2000 - Nelson Brothers again joins with Orica and expands offerings to 33 US states creating Nelson Brothers, LLC.

2004 - Specialty Chemical Division is launched.

2012 - Rojo Junction plant Gillette, Wyoming increases emulsion production capacity.

2014 - Opens St. Paul, Kentucky plant which is a state of the art emulsion plant serving the 33 states in eastern territory.

2015 - Opens new emulsion plant in Wright, Wyoming.

2016 - Opens new distribution points in Illinois Basin, making us the largest provider of explosives in the Midwest.

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