“Our Komatsu equipment delivers”
Take a ride with Mezger Enterprises’ Quarry Manager David White around the Lueders area in West Texas, and you’ll not only learn all you need to know about the stone that Mezger Enterprises uses, but you will also get a history lesson of the Lueders Basin as a bonus.
“When the railroad workers came through in the 1800s, they discovered limestone and used it for right-of-way, ballast, trusses and other needs,” noted White. “People started using it for residences, courthouses and other government buildings that eventually followed rail construction. Two quarries were active through the 1950s, until they were shut down.”
In the mid-1980s, Mezger Enterprises reopened one of the old quarries with a small-scale operation that included White and a couple of other employees. Adding the quarry operation expanded the company, which is based in Lampasas, Texas – about 180 miles southeast of Lueders. Bill Mezger started the company in 1978 with a homemade, guillotine-style rock-chopping machine that split native ledge limestone into 18-inch house veneer.
Thirty years later, Bill is still running Mezger Enterprises as CEO. Additional key personnel include CFO/Managing Partner Ben Goodwin, Sales Director/Operations Manager Wayne Harbin, Estimator Chris Dungan, Drafting Supervisor Tony Brotherwood, Executive Administrator Michelle Oldham and Regional Sales Managers Ronny Shroyer, Clint Hart and Steve Walker.
“You can go around the world and find numerous places that have utilized our stone,” said White. “In nearly every instance, we worked very closely with architects, contractors or designers to supply products to their exact specifications. We can deliver everything from a raw piece of limestone, to a unique and intricately detailed architectural item. Practically anything a customer can imagine, we can produce – and that’s why our services are in demand.”
Two production facilities
Today, Mezger Enterprises, Ltd. is the largest limestone quarry, full-service supplier and limestone fabricator in the Southwest. The company provides architects, masons, builders and consumers with raw slab and block, architecturalcut stone and custom designs for commercial, residential, municipal and landscaping applications.
“The Lueders quarries shut down because companies started moving toward Austin for its white rock,” said White. “It was easier and less expensive to access, with little to no overburden, but they sacrificed quality and variety. Our stone is stronger and is available in a much wider range of colors and grades. That’s why demand – and our customer list – have grown extensively during the past 30 years.”
Raw materials come from the Lueders quarry, where Mezger Enterprises owns more than 900 acres of land. The company harvests raw limestone from five ledges, each with a unique variety that can be custom-cut and honed. Blocks are excavated and split in the quarry, then trucked to the company’s three production plants.
The Lueders plant is a 30,000-square-foot mill near the quarry that services large-scale commercial and residential projects. Architectural-cut stone is prepared and fabricated in Lampasas. From the those plants, Mezger Enterprises produces veneers, landscape and quarry blocks, paving stones, benches and signs. A variety of textures and finish options are available. Mezger’s mill in Kempner handles the company’s high-end, custom-cut orders.
“We keep an inventory of items such as veneers and retaining-wall blocks on hand, and we also furnish some stone to other companies that make their own products,” said White. “However, the bulk of our business comes from custom orders. We encourage customers to come to the quarry and pick their materials first-hand because our stone varies across the property. You can be in a spot, move a few yards, and the product will be completely different in color and/or texture.”
Machinery and manpower
Excavating, splitting and moving stone blocks at the quarry takes a combination of machine and manpower. Mezger Enterprises uses a Komatsu PC360LC-10 excavator it purchased about a year ago from Kirby-Smith Machinery, Inc.
“The PC360 is the right size for our operation,” said White. “It has the power to dig and pull from the ledges, and it’s also very fuel-efficient. In some areas, a lot of overburden has to be removed, and the PC360 does a great job. The cycle times are excellent.”
Mezger Enterprises splits the exposed limestone into large blocks. Workers first drill a series of holes into the ledge, using an Atlas Copco XAS 185 air compressor for power. Then, they sledgehammer wedges into the holes to crack the stone.
The resulting blocks often have to be “popped” out of the ledge. That’s done with Komatsu WA500 and WA320 wheel loaders equipped with forks, which are also used to move materials around the quarry and load blocks onto flatbeds. Mezger switches to buckets on the loaders for cleaning up loose materials around the quarry.
“We consider the WA500 our main production machine because it handles the heaviest loads,” said White. “It’s a true workhorse, but we honestly could say that about all of our Komatsu equipment. The WA320 is a great all-around machine and handles the smaller ledges and pieces of stone easily. We need machinery that can handle constant movement in a tough environment, without breaking down. Our Komatsu equipment delivers.”
Equally important to White is the service Mezger Enterprises receives from Kirby-Smith Machinery and Territory Manager Todd Coffey.
“They ensured our machinery matched our needs, which is important when it comes to maximizing efficiency,” said White. “The service is above and beyond what we’ve received from anyone else we have dealt with, and that makes a big difference when it comes to our machinery purchases, too. We really appreciate that Kirby-Smith and Komatsu cover the routine maintenance on the excavator and loader under the Komatsu CARE program. To have complimentary service for the first three years or 2,000 hours is a tremendous value.”
Just scratching the surface
Mezger Enterprises is closing in on completion of nearly 10,000 projects worldwide since its founding. The company has received numerous accolades for its work throughout the years, including the 2006 Tucker Design Award for outstanding stone architecture on the Prothro House Addition in Dallas. It also won Golden Trowel Awards from the Central Texas Masonry Contractors Association in 2007 and 2012. The first was for The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano, which featured honed-antique Lueders limestone that was specially quarried for the project. The latter involved cut stone for St. John’s Catholic Church in Austin.
Mezger Enterprises has played a key role in many prominent projects. Austin’s City Hall features more than 58,000 square feet of Lueders roughback and about 1,500 tons of veneer. More than 1,100 tons of quarry blocks were used in landscape features around the building as well. In Grapevine, the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center’s interior and exterior include about 200,000 square feet of natural stone from Mezger.
“Awards are nice, but our greatest accomplishment comes from delivering quality products to satisfied customers,” said White. “We plan to do that for a long time to come. We’ve just scratched the surface in terms of our reserves. During the past 30 years or so, we have only quarried about 200 acres, so there is a lot more stone for us to work with.”