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Longtime Meridian business closes its doors

By Staff
SAYING GOODBYE Bob Soul, owner of Soul Steam Feed Works, closed his longtime business last week after 109 years in operation. The company made and repaired machinery for southeastern industries and manufacturing plants. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Sept. 7, 2001
Soul Steam Feed Works will close its doors in Meridian after almost 110 years of making and repairing machinery for southeastern industries and manufacturing plants.
Company president Bob Soul said dwindling profits helped him decide to close the company his grandfather, George Wilberforce Soul, established in 1892.
Soul Steam Feed Works had once employed about 60 people. Soul said the company has downsized over the years and had 13 employees last week, 10 of whom are finishing existing orders.
Company products
Employees at Soul's 402 19th Ave. business made iron casts, including many manhole covers for Meridian streets. They also did machine shop work for local people and sold industrial supplies.
Soul said that, until several months ago, other employees made sawmill machinery at another part of the company located at 400 13th Ave. in Meridian.
That portion of the operation was purchased in 1961 from the Henry Miner family. Soul said the product line was sold in April to Meadows Mills, which then moved the operation to their home state of North Carolina.
Soul said his primary customers have been manufacturers "and there's just not as many of them."
Employee loyalty
Some of Soul Steam's retirees, including one who passed away recently, had worked for the company for more than 50 years.
He said the remaining employees seem to be very understanding about the company's closing.
Soul said he will spend his time working with Miner Saw, another company in which he is a shareholder. Miner Saw, which manufactures and services saw blades, has one plant in Meridian and two in Alabama.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.