Large fleet of Komatsu equipment keeps Rocky Point running smoothly
Kenny Staggs is finally doing what he
apparently was always meant to do — work
with rock. Staggs bought Rocky Point Quarry in
Batesville, Ark., (about 100 miles north of Little
Rock) a little more than five years ago. Prior to
that, he ran his own small excavating company,
and before that, he worked as a diesel mechanic
and shop foreman for a trucking company.
“My dad said this eventually had to happen
because as a child I spent a lot of time looking
at rocks,” said Staggs. “Even now, rocks and
rock formations fascinate me. Whenever I visit a
new state, I always bring back a rock. I probably
should have been a geologist, but I guess owning
and working a quarry is the next best thing.”
As you might expect from somebody who
has a passion for rocks, Kenny Staggs doesn’t
spend much time in an office. When he isn’t
out marketing and selling his aggregate
product, he’s hands-on in the quarry.
“I have about 15 employees and I do
everything I ask any of them to do,” said
Staggs. “I run equipment. I fix things. I oversee
crushing. I’ll get dirty, greasy and sweaty right
along with everybody else. Whatever needs to
be done on any given day to ensure a smooth
operation and customer satisfaction, that’s
what I’m going to do.”
Rocky Point Quarry is very much a family
business. Kenny is President and his wife,
Shelia, takes care of the books and serves as
Vice President. Their son Nathan is Kenny’s
right-hand man and helps him run the quarry.
“We have a lot of good, longtime employees,
such as Sammy Phillips, who’s been with us
since we started,” said Staggs. “We try to treat
everybody well. Often, when an employee
leaves to try something else, he ends up
coming back because he finds the grass really
wasn’t greener on the other side. That always
makes us feel good, when good people want to
come back here to work.”
Business boom from natural gas
Rocky Point Quarry has been around for
decades, but Staggs has increased business
considerably since taking over in 2005. Today,
Rocky Point produces more than half a million
tons of aggregate per year.
“Much of the quarry is a mix of limestone
and shale,” said Staggs. “The previous owners
screened out the shale, but my thought was
that the mixture would be perfect in certain
applications — for example, as a commercial base
— because the shale allows it to compact better.
“So my job was clear, I needed to get out and
market the product,” he added. “I drove a lot
of miles in a pickup truck and spent a lot of
time visiting with contractors about what we
had and how well it would work for them. Our
customer base includes cotton farmers, the Corps
of Engineers and area highway departments.
However, the vast majority of our product goes
to natural gas companies and the contractors that
drill for them. Our rock is perfect for building
the roads and drill pads they need for their work
in the Fayetteville Shale.” (Located in northern
Arkansas, the Fayetteville Shale is one of the
largest natural gas plays in the nation.)
Key customers of Rocky Point are energy
companies such as SEECO (a subsidiary
of Southwestern Energy), XTO Energy
and Chesapeake Energy, all of which have
extensive operations in the Fayetteville Shale.
Leading contractor customers include Costner
Excavating, TAW Inc., Payne’s Services and
“We cater to our customers,” said Staggs.
“We opened a gravel yard closer to the
Fayetteville Shale to make it easier for the
natural gas companies to pick up our product.
Part of our quarry is pure limestone so if
customers need that, we can take care of them.
We’ll also crush to spec or do our best to make
any kind of special blend anybody wants.
We’re in business to meet the needs of our
customers. The customer is our boss, and we’ll
do whatever it takes to keep him happy.”
Top equipment and dealer support
To keep Rocky Point running smoothly,
Staggs runs a large fleet of Komatsu
equipment from H&E Equipment Services
in Little Rock. The quarry uses a number of
Komatsu excavators including a PC400, two
PC300s and two PC270s; two Komatsu HM300
articulated haul trucks; three Komatsu WA380
wheel loaders; and a WA450 wheel loader.
“I’ve been running Komatsu equipment since
before I bought the quarry,” said Staggs. “The
great thing about Komatsu machines is their
reliability. They work every day and they last a
long time. The excavators are outstanding. We
use them for many different jobs and we just
don’t have major breakdowns. We have a WA450
wheel loader that I bought used five and one-half
years ago when we got the quarry. It has 13,000
hours on it now and still feeds the impact crusher
every day. And the HM300s have definitely cut
our haul costs tremendously.”
Staggs says the support he gets from H&E
Little Rock is as important to him as the quality
of the Komatsu equipment.
“Topnotch service is an absolute must in this
business because if a piece of equipment isn’t
working, it can slow or even shut down my
entire operation. All the people I work with at
H&E get that. For example, if one of our key
machines is in the shop, their Branch Manager
Charles Sooby gets us a replacement piece.
I don’t even ask for it; Charles just knows
we need it and he makes it happen. Service
Manager Doug Fletcher and Parts Manager
Andy Taylor also go out of their way to make
sure we’re taken care of.
“Something else H&E has done is set up a
consignment parts trailer specifically for us here
in Batesville,” Staggs noted. “That’s important
because we’re quite a ways from the H&E
branch in Little Rock. Their PSSR Ron Waymack
keeps track of the inventory and makes sure we
have ready access to the replacement wear parts
we need. That type of support is why we’ve
been a loyal customer through the years.”
Another reason Staggs is loyal to H&E is
because of his H&E Sales Rep, Scott Prior.
“I trust Scott completely and seek his advice
on virtually all my equipment purchases, and
he’s never steered me wrong. Scott’s gone with
me on out-of-state trips to look at crushing
equipment that he’s not selling and isn’t going
to get any commission on. He does it to help
me out. I really appreciate the way he and
everybody at H&E go the extra mile for us.”
When Staggs bought the business, there was
no Fayetteville Shale natural gas industry to
speak of in northern Arkansas.
“It really came out of the blue a couple of
years ago and demand for aggregate soared.
As a result, our growth was much greater and
much faster than we could have imagined.
That sounds like a good thing and compared
to having too little demand, it is — but it’s also
a lot of pressure. I couldn’t get enough stuff in
place fast enough. That experience wasn’t a
lot of fun and what I learned from it was that I
don’t ever want to have to grow that fast again.
“I think the future looks good and fairly
stable,” he added. “My goal will be to basically
maintain our current level or increase it
gradually over the next few years. If we need
to do more, we could rearrange our crushing
system, add another impact or cone crusher
and increase our volume 30 percent to 40
percent out of this quarry. I’m not interested in
adding any new properties, largely because it
would put us in direct competition with other
suppliers with which we already have good
working relationships. It’s not worth it to me to
destroy those relationships in order to possibly
make a little more money.”
Staggs says as long as he’s able to meet the
needs of his existing customers, he’s just fine with
the current size of his company. “We’re bigger
than I ever thought we’d be and it’s a lot of work.
It’s not unusual for me to spend 60 to 80 hours a
week on the job — but it’s very satisfying.”
For a guy who still loves to be around rocks,
what could be better?