Small Operation, Big Expectations
Southwest Rock Products uses common-sense ideas to keep production up and costs down.
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
Times are tough for aggregate operations these days, but Southwest Rock Products, headquartered in Queen Creek, Ariz., hasn’t changed anything about the way it operates its company. According to Managing Partner Chris Reinesch, Sr., operations have been running cost effectively since the company began.
“Nine years ago, we started this company on a shoestring,” says Reinesch, Sr. “I had a three-month lease on a piece of property.”
Today, the family-owned company has several aggregate plants and several mobile custom-crushing plants that produce just about any type of product that are used for a variety of construction projects ranging from roadwork to airport work to construction of the Arizona/Mexico border fence. How does the company continue to prosper and grow? According to Reinesch, Sr., it’s all about attitude and doing things the right way the first time.
Good product, good people
Probably first and foremost on the list is the quality and dependability of the product produced. “It’s neat to have an operation like Queen Creek where we can actually bring a customer out to see what we’re about,” says Chris Reinesch, Jr., sales and purchasing manager and son of the managing partner. “When they get that product on the job, they’re not worried about it because they know it will meet spec. They gain a lot of that comfort level over time because they can come out here to see how we run our operation. They know we’re not going to shortcut things.”
Making and keeping a good reputation with customers is extremely important in these poor economic times. “It’s a testament not only to our business, but also to the people working for us,” Reinesch, Jr. adds. “We have guys who come in half an hour early just to sit around and talk before they actually start working. It creates a family-type culture — everybody cares about what’s going on. They take a lot of pride in the business’ success.”
That attitude shows in the cleanliness of the plant. There are no parts or damaged pieces of equipment lying around, and the concrete slabs beneath the crushers and screens are clean. Even the warehouse is neat and orderly with everything in its place. “I have not seen another operation as clean and well maintained,” says Steven Hood, co-owner of the company and nephew of Reinesch, Sr., “and it’s like that 365 days a year.”
One of the ideas embraced by Southwest Rock Products is that the company operates Queen Creek plant with only 15 employees. “We’ve never had an extra body, that’s the way we operate,” Reinesch, Sr. says. He believes he has the best employees in the industry, but he also expects them to be able to do any job. “All the plant foremen I have work and are as dirty at the end of the day as the lowest guy on the totem pole.”
“We all work, and we all do everything,” Hood adds. “We built the office, warehouse, and shop ourselves. We don’t hire somebody else to come out and build something for us when we can do it ourselves, and everybody pitches in for the common goal. Our guys are willing to do anything at any time, and not just do it, but take pride in doing it. We have worked hard to get good people.”
Most of the plant’s mobile equipment is manufactured by Caterpillar. “I’ve always been a Cat individual,” Reinesch, Sr. says. “They make a wonderful piece of equipment, and when you have a dealership like Empire, you have support when you have a problem.” The company meets with representatives from the dealership on a weekly basis to discuss any problems, handle invoices, and stay up-to-date on any new equipment developments.
“Empire does rebuilds on our major components,” Hood says. “Any other maintenance, we do ourselves.”
The company is known for getting more hours out of its equipment than expected. “We have units out there that have 35,000 to 36,000 hours on them right now,” Hood says, “and we don’t anticipate getting rid of them. They’re still good machines.”
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