Rock Solid, Rock Along
The beach re-nourishment project has picked things back up a bit for the quarry, but the high tides that occur a couple times a year have been a problem. The dump truck drivers hauling the sand to the beach don’t want to waste half a day waiting for the tide to go out. The fewer loads they transport, the less money they make.
Lochary thinks the stimulus bill will have a positive effect on the business. “It may take a while to trickle down to us, though,” she adds. “By the time the jobs get designed or the Department of Transportation lets them out to bid, we might not see the work for six to seven months.”
Sharing people and equipment with the stormwater utility business has helped both companies stay afloat and meet their payrolls without having to lay off any employees. When business is slow on the utility side, workers and equipment can be shifted to the quarry to help out, as they are now with the beach re-nourishment job. When the utility business picks up, hopefully this year, employees can be shifted back as they are needed.
“When the quarry began, it was along the same line as our construction business as far as equipment needs,” says Del Kelley, chief financial officer and son of owner Robi Roberts. “It was a simple way to diversify. It didn’t require a whole new business plan and personnel and equipment. We were able to share. This economy has certainly made people be creative,” he adds, “it’s an interesting time.”
In the meantime, Roberts and Kelley are taking advantage of the lull to turn over command of the business. Roberts retired and left oversight of the business to her son, and the still waters have allowed him to pursue some of his own interests. “Del’s outlook hasn’t changed,” Lochary says. “He’s taking advantage of the freed-up time to do things he wants to do. He knows it won’t be like this forever. Eventually, we’ll go back to working 60 to 70 hours a week rather than 24.”
What is coquina?
Coquina, which means tiny shell, is the native stone of Florida. It was formed a long time ago when shell and sediment settled to the bottom of what was then the sea and became compacted over time. Some of the shell settled and formed rock around palm trees that later died and rotted, leaving large fossilized holes in the rock.
When first mined, the coquina rock is extremely soft, but the longer it is left out in the air to dry, the harder it gets. The density can vary, however, and so can the color — veins can range from tan to light peach to bright orange.
Case 621 D wheel loader
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