Merz Vault of Salem was recognized as the Teachers and
Coaches Entrepreneurship Programs Entrepreneur of the Year for 2014 at a
ceremony held at Kaskaskia College on Saturday, June 28.
The Merz Vault Company was founded in 1943 by Bob Merz and
Max McCarty as the M and M Company. Merz
later bought out his partner, renamed the company the Merz Vault Company, and
ran it until his death in 1960. Current
owner Randy Vogt purchased the company in 1981. Vogt has expanded Merz’s
customer reach, serving funeral homes throughout southern Illinois. In 1991, Merz received the contract to
provide burial vaults to veterans buried at the Jefferson Barracks Cemetery in
St. Louis County. For the past 23 years.
Merz has been delivering and installing burial vaults at Jefferson Barracks
each day, five days a week. Merz further
expanded its services in 1993 by adding one of the first crematoriums in
southern Illinois. For more than 70
years, Merz has been providing quality service and products to its customers.
A video of the Merz Vault Company showed the operations of
the company, and featured Jan and Randa Vogt praising the work ethic and vision
of Owner Randy Vogt. In an address to
the crowd, Randa also praised her father Randy’s commitment to family that
never wavered during the growth of the company.
Dr. James Underwood, President of Kaskaskia College and Mr. Bill Hawley,
Chairman of the KC board of Trustees, also praised Merz Vault and Randy Vogt
for their dedication to the area and to the families of the employees.
In his acceptance speech, Randy Vogt detailed some of the
struggles of the company and the growing pains caused by the Jefferson Barracks
contract, the acquisition of a competitor, and the commitment to install the
first crematorium in the area. Though at
times he had to go without pay, Randy saw the company through adversity and
built it into the successful business it is today. Randy was emotional when he recognized the
family members and longtime employees attending the event that helped Merz
prosper through financial support and loyalty to the company.
TCEP is a multi-faceted initiative to promote understanding,
appreciation, and support of America’s free enterprise system. The purpose is to recognize teachers and
coaches for their many significant contributions to our community and to
support activities and events that recognize and encourage entrepreneurship. TCEP activities include the Distinguished
Lecturer series, Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, workforce development
scholarships, and support for community, entrepreneurial and economic
development programs and events at Kaskaskia College.
The main sponsor of the event was the Insurance Partnership
Agency, with Gibson Funeral Home, Hughey Funeral Homes, Johnston Funeral Home,
Richardson Funeral Home, Searby Funeral Home, and Wilson and Wilson Monument
Company also sponsoring the event.