“Komatsu loaders clearly stood out from the competition”
In the early 1990s, recycling old pavement and demolition debris was gaining steam, and companies such as Southern Crushed Concrete were the engines pulling the train. Throughout the past 26 years it has consistently gained momentum, and today The Woodlands-based firm is the top producer of recycled products in Texas.
“In the mid-1980s, the state recognized that recycled materials could be used as road base, and that certainly put things in motion,” recalled Jim Miller, General Manager for Southern Crushed Concrete. “Our founder, Wayne Webber, saw an opportunity, so he started Southern Crushed Concrete in 1991, and we have been expanding ever since.”
Miller was Southern Crushed Concrete’s original employee, and he’s witnessed a dramatic transformation of the company during its two-plus-decade history. “Our first job involved recycling nearly 60,000 tons of old apron for Houston’s Hobby Airport,” recalled Miller. “We removed the existing pavement, crushed it on site, and it was reused as base. From there, we opened up yards to take in old materials and turn them into new products.”
Southern Crushed Concrete – an independent subsidiary of Webber, LLC - now has 18 locations that include yards around the Houston Metroplex, in Galveston and in Corpus Christi. It also does demolition, runs a sand-mining operation in the Houston area, offers mobile crushing, supplies hot-mix asphalt and recently added trucking services. It runs roughly 150 trucks per day to collect, distribute and deliver materials.
Today, the firm employs about 185 people, including key individuals such Chris Cosey, General Superintendent-Equipment; Fernando Fernandez, General Superintendent-Personnel; Scott Brady, Sales Manager; David Hooker, Equipment Manager; and Maria Jiames, Transportation and Dispatch Manager.
Concrete to the core
Although it has expanded its services, Southern Crushed Concrete’s core business remains the same. The company accepts old concrete and asphalt materials from a diverse group of customers that includes everyone from private homeowners disposing of a small amount of driveway or sidewalk paving, to large demolition and other contractors who bring in multiple loads weighing hundreds or thousands of tons.
The firm processes the concrete and asphalt to make bull rock, cement-treated base, railroad ballast, riprap and new hot mix that includes a percentage of old asphalt. In total, it recycles close to 2 million tons of concrete, and nearly 100,000 tons of asphalt annually, turning that into approximately 2.6 million tons of usable aggregate products. It also supplies roughly a half million tons of asphalt each year. The sand-mining operation provides additional materials, including cement-stabilized sand and concrete sand.
“Concrete and asphalt recycling is one of the greenest industries because it reduces the need for virgin materials and keeps old materials out of the landfill; in fact, our operations save almost 1.5 million cubic yards of landfill space each year,” explained Miller. “Another benefit is that during processing we remove 1,200 to 1,400 tons of steel rebar each month that is then recycled.
“We want to make recycling as convenient as possible for customers, so we intentionally located several yards around the Houston area,” Miller added. “Having multiple locations gives customers convenient places to get rid of materials, which lowers trucking and fuel costs as well as emissions. In turn, the same can be said for customers looking to pick up our end products.”
Through the years, an increasingly larger portion of Southern Crushed Concrete’s materials have come from its demolition operation, which offers removal of concrete and asphalt from roads and parking lots. It also demolishes close to 40 bridges per year, and recently added building teardowns to its list of services.
“Demolitions are a natural extension of our recycling efforts, so we integrated that into the business several years ago,” Miller noted. “It was a way to augment an already steady stream of materials coming into our yards. We have completed numerous high-profile demo jobs, including the Dallas Street bridge spanning Interstate 45. We closed the interstate in downtown Houston and removed the entire structure within a 24-hour window.”
Southern Crushed Concrete’s demolition group typically has 110 to 130 jobs going in any one year, and is currently working on four removal projects on U.S. Highway 290 in Houston. The projects are in their third year, and they are expected to take another 18 months to complete.
Longevity with Komatsu, WPI
In 2003, Southern Crushed Concrete compared competitive wheel loaders. After putting several major brands through their paces, the company selected Komatsu. Since then it has built a fleet that includes 31 Komatsu WA500 wheel loaders, 23 varying-sized excavators and four Komatsu D61PX-23 dozers.
“Komatsu loaders clearly stood out from the competition in terms of cycle time and visibility during testing,” said Miller. “We continue to add them because they also have proven to be durable, productive and fuel-efficient. We routinely get more than 25,000 hours with no major issues or repairs. At the end of their service life, the wheel loaders have excellent resale value.”
Southern Crushed Concrete also enjoys longevity from its excavators, often running them to 12,000 hours or more. During the past few years it upgraded from PC300s and PC400s to Tier 4 PC360LC and PC490LC models.
“The PC360s are our mainline demolition machines,” reported Miller. “They give us great power to run buckets and attachments for removing pavement, but they are also easily transported. The PC400s were our primary machines, and they were good, but the PC360s offer us just as much production and power, so we believe we’re able to do as much or more in a slightly smaller package. We use the PC490LC size as needed. We keep one at the sand-mining operation to load trucks.”
Southern Crushed Concrete worked with WPI and Sales Rep Mark Rickett to acquire the machinery and develop specialty buckets for the loaders. “Mark and WPI helped us configure the buckets to more readily handle the mix of hard concrete and steel by putting the wear items in the right place and setting the tooth gapping for maximum performance. They also worked with us on items such as the proper tire size. Mark and WPI equipped us with a PC490 that has a LaBounty sheer for cutting steel on the Dallas Street bridge project. They also set up our excavators with demolition packages.
“We appreciate that they track our newer Tier 4 machines and perform the routine services under Komatsu CARE. That ensures the work is done on schedule and minimizes our downtime,” added Miller. “Mark and WPI take great care of us. We have built, and continue to have, a strong relationship.”
Southern Crushed Concrete continues to grow, according to Miller. The company took on mobile crushing within the past few years, and that’s an area where Miller sees the potential for additional expansion.
“I see more turnkey projects where we crush on site, leave the material and move on to another location,” predicted Miller. “We believe there is plenty of room to expand demolition. Our current sand-dredging location is nearly out of material, and we’re in the process of opening a new one.
“A good deal of our growth has occurred by acquiring other companies, and I can see that continuing,” he continued. “We are also looking to add more asphalt plants and expand in that market. We want to be a dynamic company; we want to grow. The plans are in place to do that.”