At the Aug. 14 Rural Life Celebration, Catholic Charities will honor Worms Lumber and Ready Mix, Inc., in New Munich with its first Catholic Rural Business Award. Four generations of the Worms family have offered lumber and concrete products since 1920 to surrounding farming communities.
“While not many businesses have reached the 100-year milestone, rural businesses are necessary for a healthy and stable rural economy,” said JoAnn Braegelman, rural life coordinator for Catholic Charities of the Diocese
of St. Cloud.
“The goods, services and jobs they bring to their communities support all aspects of rural life. Rural business owners like the Worms family are important leaders in their small towns, offering skills and talents that benefit their communities as well as their parishes.”
Steve Worms, who recently retired from the business, said his grandfather Mathias Worms began manufacturing cement drain tile for farms, incorporating in 1920 as New Munich Concrete Products. By the late 1930s, he’d purchased a local lumberyard, changing the name to Matt Worms Lumber Company.
After World War II ended, the use of concrete expanded greatly, so Ed and Ralph, the second generation, built a ready-mix concrete plant in New Munich, the only one between St. Cloud and Alexandria. Ten years later, they built a plant in Sauk Centre. Steve and Matt, the third generation, added a plant in Long Prairie.
From these plants and the lumber yard, the Worms family has been furnishing building products for homes, farms, commercial construction, schools, churches, hospitals and freeway bridges.
When Ed and Ralph retired, Steve and Matt bought shares and became owners. The business is currently owned by Matt as well as three of Steve’s sons — Carl, Brian and Aaron, the fourth generation.
“We’re proud that four generations of family have owned this business for more than 100 years,” Steve said. “We’re proud of our employees, some second- and third-generation employees and pleased that loyal customers have done business with us all these years.”
“Our families have been parishioners their whole lives at Immaculate Conception in New Munich,” said Steve’s wife, Shirley. “Church is a very big part of our daily lives — we’re more active now than ever before.”
As rural life coordinator, it was Braegelman’s vision to initiate the award.
“My hope is to spotlight how our Catholic faith teaches that there is dignity in work,” she said. “We see this through people whose faith and work lives are connected, who are leaders in their parishes and their communities. [Work] is more than a way to make a living; it is a way of participating in God’s creation, and it should give rise to opportunities for growth for the working individual.
“If we can make visible the business owners who bring the light of Christ into their workplace, who are leaders in their parishes and the communities they serve, they then become an example for others.”
Along with a certificate, business owners receive a plaque featuring St. Joseph the Worker, who provided the necessities for the Holy Family through daily labor in his carpentry shop.