Customers in Action

Schwarz Ready Mix


March 18, 2016

“Komatsu was the clear winner”

Schwarz Ready Mix

Sometimes, struggling at one venture can be a motivating factor that leads to success in another. Such was the case for Pete Schwarz, a farmer who was having a hard time supporting a family that included his wife, Clara, and six children. So, in 1948, Pete started Schwarz Ready Mix with a single plant in Okarche, Oklahoma.

“Farming was a challenge, so dad needed something else to help make ends meet,” recalled his son Philip. “He always worked construction as well as farmed, so it naturally fit for him to start his own business geared toward that. We’ve always joked that it really worked out well, because we ended up with six more brothers and sisters after that.”

Over the years, several of those dozen children have been involved in the company’s growth and expansion in Oklahoma. Four sons currently own and operate the business, including Philip, who is President. Gene is CFO and George and Charles are Vice Presidents of the now Yukon-based Schwarz Ready Mix.

Three years after starting the business, the Schwarzes added a second location in Kingfisher. More plants followed in El Reno and Yukon within a few years. Pete also added a paving crew to the mix in the company’s early stages.

“Dad knew the opportunities were good for success because these small towns were growing right after World War II,” said Philip. “New housing construction was booming, and the towns were getting revenue that was used to pave the existing dirt streets. He set up plants to supply the materials. He and his crew paved streets, and people asked him to do other work, such as footings and floors. It blossomed rather quickly.”

Hundreds of mixes

Today, Schwarz Ready Mix has a dozen locations that serve a wide variety of customers, including homebuilders, pavers and industrial and commercial contractors. It also has three portable plants that can be set up and dedicated to a particular project. Schwarz Paving, a sister company, does concrete and asphalt paving.

“We went through a couple of transitions during the past decade, including selling the company to a large corporation and then buying it back,” said Philip. “Today, we’re a dedicated family business again – focused on supplying customers in and around the Oklahoma City metro area with the highest quality products in the market.”

Schwarz Ready Mix makes a wide variety of products, including those with custom specifications. Philip estimates that during its nearly 70-year history, the company has made hundreds of mixes. To ensure quality, it has its own testing lab at the Yukon location.

“It seems like architects and planners are coming up with new mixes all the time, and we work closely with them to meet their specific needs,” he said. “There are also general products that are used every day. We can supply everyone from the homeowner who needs to patch a sidewalk or put in a driveway, to a large company looking for thousands of yards.”

Schwarz Ready Mix delivers products with a fleet of about 80 ready-mix trucks. In addition to drivers, it has about 100 other employees.

“Even at our present size we still have a family atmosphere,” said Philip. “I think our employees embrace that, and therefore, take great pride in what they do. They strive to always ensure the right materials are delivered on time, so our customers meet their schedules.”

Komatsu loaders the right fit

Schwarz Ready Mix

Philip says that reliable equipment is vital to the high production that ensures customers’ needs are met.

“When we start up a plant in the morning, the material bins are empty. It’s essential to have machinery that fires up right away, gets those bins full and then maintains production all day long,” he emphasized. “When we bought back the company a few years ago, we quickly realized that we needed to upgrade our loaders in order for that to be the case.”

Schwarz Ready Mix compared a few major brands, and Philip called some friends in the industry for their thoughts. In the end, the company purchased several Komatsu WA380-6, WA380-7, WA470-7 and WA500-7 wheel loaders.

“In both cases, Komatsu was the clear winner,” he said. “My colleagues believe Komatsu loaders are the best, and our demonstrations bore that out. Part of getting solid production is good maneuverability, and Komatsu loaders give us that. What also impressed me was the fuel efficiency. They were far and away better than the competition.

“We use the WA470s in our higher-production plants. The WA380s work very well for our other locations and are probably the best size and fit for a concrete plant,” he added. “The WA500-7 loads trucks and moves materials at our sand plant. Across the board, we are very happy with the Komatsu loaders.”

Philip said another factor in going with Komatsu loaders was the service that Kirby-Smith Machinery, Inc. offers. Schwarz Ready Mix works closely with Territory Manager Ryan Bebee. Complimentary service on the Tier 4 machines is included for the first 2,000 hours or three years under the Komatsu CARE program, with Kirby-Smith technicians performing all the work.

“In addition to the added value the Komatsu CARE program provides, Ryan and Kirby-Smith have done an excellent job of going above and beyond to help us get the most out of our machines and lower our O&O costs,” said Philip. “For instance, they showed us how to use KOMTRAX to track idle time, which helped us lower that significantly. We appreciate everything they do for us.”

New central plant, technology

Schwarz Ready Mix

Schwarz Ready Mix is currently implementing a tracking system for its delivery trucks that will monitor their locations and provide other essential data. It also recently put in a state-of-the-art central mix plant at its downtown Oklahoma City location, which speeds up the mixing of materials and loading of trucks.

“It’s a big plant, but what’s most important is the high efficiency and time savings it provides,” said Philip. “There is a lot of automation involved. This plant, plus the new machinery and the technology that goes with it, are indicators of how the industry has changed and where it’s heading in the future.”

There have been a lot of changes for Schwarz Ready Mix over the years.

“Forty years ago, we were still relatively small with only five trucks and two locations, so we’ve grown considerably,” said Philip. “Much of that has been due to customer demand, as well as an overall expansion of the Oklahoma City metro area, which meant a need for more and more ready-mix materials.

“We’re very proud to own the family business again, and we want to ensure we maintain its solid reputation,” he added. “I doubt there will be any more major growth. Our focus is squarely on finding additional ways to increase efficiency and continuing to deliver quality products. The latter is why we are where we are today, and that will never change.”