Komatsu trucks continue to be the “right choice”
Few cities in Texas have the diversity of Austin, particularly its economy. Like other cities, oil and gas are part of the economic mix, but in the past few years oil’s portion has shrunk as an increasing number of technology and other types of businesses are now more prominent in the marketplace.
“That diversity has been very good for us,” said Jake Seay, Vice President of Operations for Centex Materials. “Austin is also a tourist draw with festivals and other attractions, so the city continues to thrive and grow. As other places suffer during the oil and gas markets’ recent decline, we seem to keep humming along.”
Growth requires new buildings, parking lots, sidewalks, roads and more, which, in turn, bring a need for the products that Centex Materials supplies. The company has two sides; ready-mix concrete plants throughout the Austin area and a quarry operation in Buda. Seay is part of a team of leaders at Centex Materials that includes President David Loftis, Vice President of Sales Doug Ferell and Vice President of Finance Beth Pieprzica. The company is a division of Dallas-based Eagle Materials, and currently employs about 170 people.
From homeowners to large general contractors
On the ready-mix side, Centex Materials runs eight plants that supply everyone from private homeowners to large general contractors. The company runs 85 trucks that deliver a variety of mixes throughout six counties including towns such as Georgetown, Kyle, Buda, Manor and Taylor.
“We supply whatever our customers ask for,” noted Seay. “We probably run 20 mix designs on a daily basis, a portion of which are fairly standard and make up approximately 80 percent of our business. The balance is highly specialized. For instance, it might be high-strength, such as 10,000 or 12,000 PSI for a new, high-rise building. Anything someone calls for, we can accommodate.”
Centex Materials’ services include everything from bringing a yard of concrete for a sidewalk patch to large batches of material for new construction. The company recently began supplying 70,000 cubic yards for a major tech project, and is also involved with several other large projects in downtown Austin.
“No one knows for sure if those are the largest amounts Centex Materials has ever supplied for a single project, but the tech project is the biggest in recent memory,” explained Seay.
Supplying itself and others
One thing which is certain is that Centex Materials has solid raw materials at its quarry operation in Buda. The company uses them to supply its own aggregate products to make concrete mixes. It also sells a variety of sand and rock products to outside customers.
“In the beginning, the quarry was a traditional dig and screen pit,” recalled Seay. “Since the early 1980s, it’s been blast and crush. We mainly supply washed product for our business, as well as for a couple of large producers in town. In total, we produce nearly two million tons of material per year.”
That’s generally split between base materials and washed rock with varying sizes of each. Centex Materials does not offer delivery from the quarry, but customers can pick up products themselves.
“Each base may have multiple separate grades, and then we make several types of washed materials, too,” said Seay. “As with ready-mix, we can supply large quantities of whatever sand and aggregate materials customers need. We make up to 300,000 tons per year for one customer. We recently supplied 170,000 tons of base to a company working on a new interchange in Austin.”
Komatsu trucks move materials efficiently
Like other quarries, Centex wants to move materials from pit to crusher as quickly and efficiently as possible. For many years it has used Komatsu 70-ton HD605 and 100-ton HD785 mechanical trucks to accomplish this, and it recently added a WA800 wheel loader to its fleet. Centex Materials purchased the machines from WPI’s Austin branch with the help of Territory Manager Sean Casey.
Before Centex acquired the trucks, Casey and other WPI personnel studied the quarry, including its haul roads, grades and distance from the face to crusher to ensure that the trucks were the right fit.
“The Komatsus give us high production, and that’s the name of the game for a quarry operation,” explained Seay. “Downtime is a killer, and they limit that. I’ve been with Centex for three years, so the trucks predate me. They were certainly the right choice when they were purchased, and they continue to be.”
For Seay, service after the sale is equally – if not more – important than the equipment itself. Centex handles routine maintenance, calling on WPI as needed for additional help. The organization recently worked with Casey and WPI to purchase a Komatsu 9,000-galloncapacity HD325 water truck.
“What stands out for me is the value an equipment dealer provides,” Seay emphasized. “Anyone can quote a price, but are they giving me what I’m looking for in terms of the machine fitting our specific needs? Are they responsive when we need service? Do they follow through? Sean and WPI have been outstanding in that regard.”
Growing with customer base
Seay and the management team at Centex Materials see future growth as a strong possibility. Any expansion will be done with four core values in mind: safety, quality, service and accountability.
“As always, we will grow as our customer base and the city do,” said Seay. “We want to ensure that they have the ready-mix and aggregate materials they need for the next 50 years.”
“The bottom line, though, is we can’t produce quality products without quality people who are invested in what we do,” he added. “They have to abide by those values, and if they do, Centex will remain successful. Our staff has and continues to play a huge role in what the company has become. We believe that we have built something great, and we want to continue that going forward.”