“Komatsu’s reliability has been fantastic”
In the late 1980s a big push to recycle concrete materials was gaining steam, and Trey Brown and his father, Mason, decided to get on board the fast-moving train. The father-son team founded Big City Crushed Concrete in 1988 with a single location and recently opened their seventh with a new facility in Fort Worth.
“It was a second career for my dad, who was highly successful in construction management before we got into recycling,” said Trey. “We had little knowledge and taught ourselves through hands-on experience and studying the industry thoroughly. In time, we learned what works for us and what doesn’t, and that has helped us grow and prosper.”
Mason is President of the Dallas-based business. Trey and his brother-in-law, Mike Richard, are both Vice Presidents and manage all business and operations.
Big City Crushed Concrete’s locations are strategically placed throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and all accept concrete from road and street tear-outs, demolition and other sources. The company also offers mobile crushing services.
“From a trucking standpoint, multiple locations provide a major advantage,” Trey explained. “Contractors bringing materials to us have shorter hauls compared to when we had one or two yards, and this holds true on the other end for companies picking up the products we make. Reduced transportation costs help their bottom lines, and they are getting quality products that are as good as, or better than, virgin materials from a quarry.”
Each location has its own recycling plant that crushes the materials and separates rebar and other deleterious items. Big City Crushed Concrete is strictly a supplier and doesn’t have its own trucks to haul product.
“We make three basic items. The main one is an aggregate base material used for subgrade under new roadways and streets,” explained Trey. “It can also be placed under building pads and used for backfill. Supplementary products are different gradations of coarse aggregate, and we only have those because they are incidental to maintaining the quality of our main product.”
Committed to quality products
Big City Crushed Concrete thoroughly tests its products to ensure they meet Texas Department of Transportation specifications for road base, as well as to comply with other customer standards.
“We probably spend more time and effort on testing than most industries or aggregate producers would,” Trey noted. “We believe this demonstrates our strong commitment to supplying quality products that compete on a level playing field with traditional materials.
“This commitment goes back to when we opened the first location in Dallas,” he added. “At the time we started, there was a real need for dedicated recycling operations. We knew of one firm that was operating as a subsidiary to a large excavation company, and the crushing business was struggling. We decided it was of the utmost importance to tackle concrete recycling as a primary business, not as a supplement. It focuses our attention on making quality materials, and it keeps us from competing with the contractors who bring us concrete and/or purchase aggregates from us.”
Longtime, generational employees
During the past three decades, Big City Crushed Concrete substantially increased the volume of materials it could produce. Today, it supplies some of the largest residential, commercial, municipal and state projects in the metroplex and surrounding areas.
“Early on we focused on small private and municipal jobs,” recalled Trey. “As the market expanded, so did the need to increase concrete disposal and recycling. We grew to accommodate the demand.”
The company’s employee list has expanded significantly as well and includes key individuals, such as Grady Haley and Josh Hylkema, among the nearly 100 staff members. Many employees have been with the company 10, 15 and 20 years or longer, and some are second-generation from the same family.
“We have cousins, brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews and sons who work for us,” said Trey. “Turnover has been quite low through the years, and we believe that’s a key part of Big City’s success. Because we retain employees, they grow with the company and become teachers for the next generation. Additionally, it’s a huge positive when customers call and talk to the same people, or truck drivers see the same loader operators on a daily basis.”
Reliable Komatsu machinery
Big City’s operators are largely using Komatsu equipment purchased from Kirby-Smith Machinery with the help of Territory Manager Pat Farquharson. The company began adding Komatsu to its fleet several years ago when the need for larger equipment to increase production volumes became necessary.
“Loaders are the lifeblood of our operations because if they are down, we can’t feed the crushers to make products or load those products out,” explained Trey. “Komatsu’s reliability has been fantastic. We have virtually no downtime, and that’s significant considering this can be a very tough application. WA600s keep the crushers full, and WA500s with 7.2-yard buckets let us load trailers in two passes.”
The company reduces oversized pieces of concrete with Komatsu PC490LC and PC360LC excavators equipped mainly with pulverizers. “The excavators have excellent hydraulic power to run attachments, so we’re able to break down large chunks of concrete into a size that the crushers can handle efficiently,” said Trey. “Additionally, we use processors to separate rebar and other metals from concrete and cut those down to a size that can be transported for scrap recycling.
“We certainly like the Komatsu CARE program, which covers the scheduled services for the first 2,000 hours or three years on our Tier 4 machines,” he added. “Kirby-Smith monitors the equipment and notifies us when the work needs to be done, then they come to our locations and take care of it with their skilled technicians. This level of service, along with quality machinery, is why we buy Komatsu. Pat and Kirby-Smith are terrific to work with. They help us get the machinery we need and back it with quality service and good parts availability.”
Always here to help
Trey points out that recycling concrete is environmentally friendly because less material is going to landfills and more is being reused in a sustainable way. Big City Crushed Concrete continues to find options to further reduce its impact.
“The nitty-gritty of what we’re doing is finding the most efficient, cleanest and harmonious way of processing concrete rubble in the metro areas while making the products our customers desire,” Trey stated. “We also strive to operate facilities that are relatively out-of-sight and out-of-mind, so we try to select locations where the large volumes of trucks and machinery aren’t affecting neighborhoods negatively.
“That’s helped us grow to be the first in this type of business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and maintain our position as the primary concrete recycler in the metroplex,” he added. “Our yards are open six days a week to take anything from a five-gallon bucket of material from a homeowner to massive amounts from contractors that are tearing down buildings or removing roadways. We will even accommodate special hours by request and open at night for both dropping off and picking up crushed materials, if that’s what a customer needs. We’re here to help our customers in any way we can.”