Rock Solid, Rock Along
Unique materials and diversity have helped this quarry stay afloat during rough economic seas.
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
The east coast of Florida isn’t exactly the kind of place someone would expect to find a rock quarry, but that’s exactly where you’ll find Rock Solid Rock LLC. The quarry mines a unique material — coquina — in the form of rock, shell, and sand. The operation is located in Titusville, a small coastal city where townspeople can look right across the Indian River at Cape Canaveral. The town’s seawall and the edge of the bridge leading to the cape are lined with coquina rock that came from the quarry.
Rock Solid Rock opened in October 2002. The owner of the operation, Robi Roberts, is a long-time resident of Titusville who owned both a construction business, which was sold in 2005, and a stormwater utility business, which she still owns, prior to opening the quarry. Roberts bought the mineral rights to a piece of property owned by a friend for a period of 20 years and set up shop.
The operation started out very small — producing 30,000 tons the first year — but by 2006, it was producing 66,000 tons per year.
“For a three-man band, that wasn’t bad,” says Nicolle Lochary, facility manager. “We had an operator, a scalehouse operator, and me. That was it, till we got this sand job. Now we’ve got about 10 people. We took a couple of guys from the stormwater end, trained them, and moved them over to the mine. We’re shipping out about 10,000 tons a week now.”
The sand job is a beach re-nourishment project coordinated by Brevard County and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Beach sand is being replaced in several areas along the coast where hurricanes have washed it away over the years.
The coquina shell sand works well on the beach because it is a shell material that came from the sea in the first place. But it also addresses one of the major environmental concerns surrounding the beach re-nourishment project — sea turtles. The turtles need to be able to dig through whatever sand is placed on the beach in order to lay their eggs. Coquina sand is loose and doesn’t compact easily, making it a good choice.
“There are quarries located all up and down the East Coast along the railroad that was built back in the 1800s,” Lochary says, “but we’re the only licensed pit left that produces coquina shell sand. The people placing the sand on the beach didn’t know anything about us, though. They learned about us through Mike McGarry of Brevard County Natural Resources.”
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