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Superior... Not a State of Mind, But a Pursuit of Excellence

By Paul Parsons

​First, a little history. Superior's beginnings grew out of Detroit's construction boom era in 1930 through the insight of Howard Rex, Sr. An inspiring beginning which is historically earmarked by the construction of the first tunnel to connect the U.S. and Canada, the Detroit and Windsor Fleetway Tunnel.


In 1950 and 1956 sons Tom and Dick came aboard, not with silver spoons, but as general employees. Father, Howard Rex, had the wisdom to know that managing the plant and personnel wasn’t a birthright, but a responsibility to be earned. With the understanding that hard work breeds success, brothers Tom and Dick have seen Superior grow into nine plants. These are located in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.


Superior has never believed in growth for growth’s sake. Rather, expansion came from market supply needs, employee vitality and this philosophy, “Quite frankly, if you’re not moving ahead, you’re slipping backwards.” Keeping the status quo translates into stagnancy.


Chronologically this forward motion is as follows:
1956 – Having a well established market for concrete sewer pipe, the decision was made to open a plant in Taylor, Michigan. It is dedicated to the manufacturing of pre-stressed concrete bridge beams for the construction market and one of the country’s first state-of-the-art “moving floor” concrete pipe plants.

1964 – Superior purchases pipe and concrete plants in Syracuse, Rochester, Binghamton and Buffalo, New York. Nicholas (Chicki) Melfi is President of the New York operations.

1966 – Plants are opened in Cleveland, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania. They were managed by Dick’s son Mark Rex. The Cleveland plant is probably the most up-to-date concrete facility in the world.

1974 – The Palmetto plant was opened in Florida giving Superior strategic areas from which to promptly manufacture and deliver products.

1978 – Superior opens its wire plant under the supervision of Tom Rex, Jr., in Wixom Michigan.

1987 – Bob Rex, Tom's son opens a precast concrete manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania after working and learning the trade under Chick Melfi at the New York operations. This 250,000 SF plant specialized in absorptive and reflective noise barriers. This plant supplied over ten miles of noise barriers on the Long Island Expressway through 2007.

1999 – Superior sells its precast operations to Hanson PLC.

2013 – Bob Rex starts another noise barrier company specializing in transparent noise barriers. The Tappan Zee Bridge, Scudder Falls Bridge. Boston GLX and Washington DC Rhode Island Pedestrian Bridge prove transparent noise barriers are the barriers of the future. Superior Transparent Noise Barriers LLC now serves all of North America. 

2017 - Eric Humphries joins Superior as Vice-President. Since 2000, Eric has dedicated himself to educating the noise wall market on the use and specification of transparent noise walls.  As a result, Eric holds many design patents for transparent noise walls and has authored papers on their use and specification.


2022 - The Powell Group of Companies acquires Superior Transparent Noise Barriers LLC. This acquisition is the start of two already well-known and industry recognized brands working together synonymously to grow and expand the transparent noise wall market. As part of this acquisition Bob Rex has elected to retire and we welcome Nathan Binette to the team.

The Taylor plant in the 1970s produced over 3,000 tons per day and was thought to be the highest producing plant in the USA. It had 4 pipe machines, a prestress line with 1800 feet of beds, hollow core production and  a wet cast line that produced up to 1,000 tons per day. In 1974 it manufactured the largest C76 concrete sewer pipe in the world at 17' in diameter.
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