Jerico Products

DIVERSIFIED FAMILY BUSINESS STARTS AS AN OYSTER-SHELL OPERATION IN PETALUMA, CA

Feb 12, 2010

Komatsu’s wheel loaders reliable in tough conditions

For thousands of years, the water of San Francisco Bay has collected layers and layers of Pacific pearl-oyster shells. Despite being no bigger than a typical thumbnail, the shells pack a highly organic punch of concentrated calcium carbonate that has numerous beneficial properties.

“They’re one of the richest sources of calcium on earth,” noted Mike Lind, President of Jerico Products, who has harvested the oyster shells for more than 40 years, and bought the company in the early 1970s. His sons Aaron and Christian are General Managers of the Petaluma, Calif., business. “The calcium from the shells is used in a wide variety of ways; some of the biggest are agricultural applications such as livestock and poultry feed and fertilizers. Most things that grow need calcium, so that’s our market. We ship our processed product throughout the U.S., Canada and the Pacific Rim.”

Jerico Products harvests oyster shells using specially designed equipment that dredges at depths up to 45 feet. It then ships them to yards in Petaluma and Collinsville where they’re washed, dried and crushed to customer specifications before being stored and shipped.

Oyster-shell harvesting and processing were Jerico Products’ sole focus when Lind bought the company, and it’s one of the company’s main drivers yet today. However, Lind and his sons have since added sand mining from the Bay and the Sacramento River, supplying the northern California construction industry. Related services include supplying imported aggregate products, much of it moved by a 3,000-horsepower tug named Michael Lind and a 20,000-ton barge named Peter Lind. With a 20,000-ton payload capacity, Peter Lind is the largest bulk-materials barge on the West Coast. Jerico Products also has three ready-mix barges in its total fleet of more than 20 tugs, barges and other specialty watercraft.

“We believe the more we can offer our customers, the better,” said Aaron. “Supplying sand was a natural progression and goes hand-in-hand with our oyster-shell operations. In each of our services we offer quality-focused customer service. Because of that, Jerico has developed a solid reputation for delivering on our commitments.”

Helping in that effort are Mike’s wife, Barbara, and Christian’s wife, Denise, who are part of a team of about 40 people who keep operations running at Jerico Products. That’s a significantly higher number than the two employees who worked with Mike when he founded the business. Many staff members have been with the company a decade or more.

Additional services, equipment

Jerico Products also offers marine towing and barging, recently partnering with another company to move materials for the rebuilding of the Bay Bridge. In addition, the company does environmental remediation work, such as rebuilding levees on Woodward Island. “I’ve always believed that you have to be open minded and willing to take a chance. We have, and it’s paid off,” said Mike. “That’s helped us grow and take on a more diverse offering of services.”

In addition to the watercraft, Jerico Products uses other support equipment, including Komatsu wheel loaders, purchased from Road Machinery’s Sacramento branch with the help of Territory Manager Jason Ketchum. Recent purchases include a WA380-6, which the company uses on its sand dredge, and a WA430-6 with a five-yard bucket for stockpiling and loading the hopper at its Collinsville plant.

“The first Komatsu loader we had was a WA90 purchased in the mid 1980s,” recalled Mike. “I bought it used, and it proved to be a great machine. We only recently traded it in when we bought the newer machines. We also have an older WA380-6 that we moved from the sand dredge to another operation. Our history with Komatsu loaders is very good.”

“We did comparison shop, but the Komatsus again clearly stood out,” Aaron added. “Our applications can be very tough on machinery, especially the sand barge where fine sand and salt air play a role. Our first WA380 held up very well, so that was a mark in Komatsu’s favor as we looked to add on. Because those machines play such a vital role, uptime is extremely important, and Komatsu has delivered.”

Helping ensure maximum uptime is Road Machinery’s Sacramento branch. “We’re often working round-the-clock, so service at any time is essential,” said Mike. “Road Machinery made a firm commitment to take care of us whenever we need them, and they have. That was another major factor in our decision to go with Komatsu.”

Continued opportunities

With the Linds’ eye for diversification and offering quality products and service, they believe Jerico Products will continue to grow. In fact, they’re planning for it. Aaron said new opportunities are constantly knocking.

“We believe in looking at additional possibilities and assessing whether or not they’re right for us,” stated Aaron. “Jerico is diversified now, and we’re open to continued growth as long as it doesn’t affect the quality of service we offer. There is still a lot of levee work to be done, so that will be a major part of our business as will our continuing to harvest oyster shells and sand.”