The only modifications or considerations Warren wanted in his new plant were self-cleaning systems and operator ergonomic features that would make the facility easy to maintain. "We made sure there was easy access to the components that need to be maintained, and we also made sure we had ample electrical and air connections located throughout the facility," Warren says. "We also installed a lot of lighting to improve visibility of all the components both for maintaining and operating the plant."
Warren considers the $3.5-million investment a major component of the company's long-term strategic growth objectives.
"We've only run a minimal amount of tonnage through the plant to support our own operation since we began producing mix six months ago, but we want to make sure we're producing a quality product," Warren says. "So, we've taken our time to ramp up our production capabilities. We'll continue to increase production to meet the needs of our own projects, as well as supply other customers over time, but we'll only do so at a pace that enables us to maintain control over the quality of mix we produce.
"We purchased this plant to meet our long-range objectives," he continues. "We purchased a plant that will allow us to pursue projects with high tonnage requirements, projects with complex mix designs, and projects that will allow a high percentage of RAP (reclaimed asphalt pavement) in the mix design. We purchased a plant that will allow us to pursue those types of projects, and we didn't want to have to make modifications to the plant three years down the road."
An eye on the future
The investment Egge Sand and Gravel made to enter the asphalt production business is one that Warren sees as vitally important to the company's competitive posturing for continued growth.
"The market is in transition because some of the principal players are at depletion (running out of aggregate material)," Warren says. "With the fact that some of our competitors can no longer provide or produce the aggregate the market requires, our aggregate resource coupled with our asphalt production capabilities now gives us the ability to be a customer's complete product and service provider."
Egge's aggregate supply market has been within a half-hour drive from the company's Eugene location. The addition of its hot-mix capabilities has expanded the company's market potential to a 1 1/2 hour drive.
"In this business, margins can be tight," Warren says. "But having the ability to secure your own source of materials gives you flexibility in pricing, and that's what we believe we now have with our asphalt production capability."