“The Komatsus are up to the challenge”
What’s in a name? For James Paulson, the answer was, “quite a bit,” actually. After starting Paulson Rock Products in 1968, he bought Stussy Construction’s Mantorville, Minn., quarry in the early 1970s. However, instead of folding it into his existing business, he decided to keep the moniker.
“It was something he did in order to ensure that local business didn’t drop off,” explained James’ son, Tom, who is a Co-owner of Stussy Construction and Paulson Rock Products. “It makes for a lot to say, but where we’re from, people refer to places as they have always been. Everyone knew what Stussy was and where it was located because it had been there for decades. We didn’t want to confuse anyone.”
Today, the Paulson family continues to manage both companies, and James, Tom and his brother, Mike, are Co-owners of Paulson Rock Products and its quarries in Rock Dell and Salem Corners, Minn. Tom runs Stussy Construction at the Mantorville site.
“The Stussy quarry is our largest site, at nearly 120 acres,” detailed Tom. “On the Paulson Rock side, we’ve mined close to 80 acres in Rock Dell, and our Salem Corners sand pit is approximately 30 acres. We’re in good shape with our location in southeast Minnesota. We have strong relationships with the corporate aggregate companies that have become more popular recently.”
Between Stussy Construction and Paulson Rock Products, the companies employ 20 people and serve an area within a 20-mile radius around Mantorville that includes Rochester, Owatonna and Grand Meadow. In addition to aggregate production, the firms also have trucks to haul material for delivery.
While the names may be a little confusing, Tom says the mission of the businesses is not.
“We make big rocks into small ones,” laughed Tom. “We specialize in limestone at our Mantorville and Rock Dell sites, and Salem Corners is a sand pit. We make Class 2 and Class 5 road base and sand. In addition to road work, we also take care of townships, while customers use our material in home developments.”
The quarries typically produce 50,000 to 100,000 tons annually.
“The amount we produce depends on what is going on in our service area,” said Tom. “Fortunately, we’ve had a couple of large jobs the last few years. We shipped 100,000 tons to a nearby windmill farm that took almost 18 months to complete. Right now, we are involved in a railroad-spur expansion for an ethanol plant, which will require another 100,000 tons of product.”
When it comes to building an equipment fleet, the Paulson family relies on Komatsu WA500 wheel loaders. They trust Road Machinery & Supplies Co., (RMS) and Sales Rep Jeff Bistodeau to keep their fleet up and running.
“We have always been fans of the Komatsu WA500s – we have a 25-year-old WA500-1 that we still use in the yard,” noted Tom. “In total, we have 12 of them; the newest is a WA500-8 that we just purchased in January.
“They are tough and durable,” he continued. “The visibility is excellent, and our operators really enjoy running them. This isn’t an easy application; limestone is hard and rough, so the wheel loaders take a beating. The Komatsus are up to the challenge. We know they are going to perform.”
The dependable performance of the wheel loaders is matched by the reliability and dedication of the RMS service staff.
“Even with the best equipment, something is going to come up, and RMS adds so much value to the equipment with how they respond at critical times,” noted Tom. “If we need a part or pop a code, they are here to take care of it. Downtime is a killer for a small company like ours, and RMS understands that.”
With services such as KOMTRAX, Komatsu’s remote machine-monitoring system, and Komatsu CARE, which provides complimentary service maintenance on Tier 4 machines for the first three years or 2,000 hours of machine operation, Tom reports that sometimes RMS calls him before a problem occurs.
“They contact us when a service is due, which is amazing,” shared Tom. “Whether it’s a regular oil change through Komatsu CARE or they see something larger on KOMTRAX that could become a problem soon, they are on top of it. RMS looks out for us.”
That attention to detail and level of customer service is why the Paulsons keep buying WA500s.
“When we need a new loader, we demo other brands, but Komatsu keeps proving itself,” declared Tom. “The machine is great, the service from RMS is the best and the machines are very user-friendly. The filters are interchangeable, the cabs are comfortable and they are easy to maintain. We keep going with Komatsu because it’s a no-brainer.”
Tom has spent most of his life at the Stussy Construction quarry. He worked as a kid alongside his dad at the site, and he hopes to continue coming to the location through retirement. However, Tom’s future plans for the place look quite different.
“This quarry has just about run its course, I estimate we have approximately 10 more years of material left at the current pace, and our Rock Dell site has more room that we can expand into,” calculated Tom. “This site’s second act is what I’m really looking forward to. I plan to fill the quarry with water to make a 100-acre lake. We’ve already begun some initial efforts toward that goal.
“Dodge County, where we are located, is one of the only counties in Minnesota without a lake,” he continued. “I want to stock it with fish and build a campground around it. It would be a great thing for the area. I think it could be a boon to the local economy and a great way to reclaim the site. I’m very excited to see what the future brings.”