Stepping Up Their Game

Onyx Corp’s Sterling, Mass., Quarry Ditched the Diesel and Increased Production With a New Electric Plant.

Onyx Corp. is a growing company, with a diverse product line serving aggregates and organics; site work and civil infrastructure; horticultural services; and landscape construction.

Aerial view of the plant.

The new plant can produce up to 700 tph.

Pictured are Mark Franks, quarry manager, Onyx; and Sean Clifford, Powerscreen New England.

Started by John and Stacey Durkin, Onyx Corp. began in 1980 as a trucking company under the name Onyx Transportation. The name “Onyx” originated from John Sr.’s first truck, which was painted Onyx black.

The company expanded through the years and in the early 1990s grew to include a 30-acre sand and gravel pit, and quarry operation in Leominster, Mass. Roughly about the same time, they branched out into the field of excavation, performing local private jobs and eventually transitioning into larger public infrastructure work.

After receiving his degree in Landscape Construction from Penn State University, John and Stacey’s oldest son, John Jr., rejoined the team full time. Once again, the company branched out, this time in the field of high-end Landscape Construction. John and Stacey’s younger son, Cale, also joined the company full time, playing an important role in the excavation division.

In 2011, the company’s name was changed from Onyx Transportation to what it is now known as, Onyx Corp. The name was changed to better represent the company, combining its three divisions, Materials/Trucking, Excavation and Landscape Construction.

John Sr. and Stacey, along with their sons, play an active part in the day-to-day operations of the business. Currently the company employs more than 90 team members, many of which have been with the company for more than 15 years. The company views its employees as an extension of the family. This is reflected in the pride and dedication evident in their everyday work.

Onyx Corp.’s quarry located in Sterling, Mass., recently worked with local dealer Powerscreen of New England on a new plant installation that includes a:

  • Powerscreen Premiertrak 600 prescreen jaw.
  • Powerscreen Warrior 2100 scalper.
  • Cedarapids CRC450X cone plant.
  • Cedarapids CRC380XHLS cone/screen plant.
  • Cedarapids CRS620H screen plant.

“Our sales were far exceeding our production at the plant, so we had to upgrade the equipment and expand our product line as well,” said John Durkin Jr. “We had been using a lot of tracked, portable equipment and our fuel consumption was very high, not to mention the emissions. Also, we had been having a lot of breakdowns due to the age of the equipment.”

The company made a decision to invest in equipment that would help it meet its production goals. “We had to step up our game,” Durkin said. “We bought a complete new plant. We were one of the first in the United States to use the 600 jaw plant. Now we can do 550 to 700 tph, where before we could only do up to maybe 250 tph. The plant’s production went from 150,000 tpy to almost 400,000 tpy within a year.”

One of the benefits to the new range of equipment is the fact that all production matched. “We didn’t want to have a hodge-podge of equipment anymore,” Durkin said. “It makes our efficiency better, and our parts availability better having only one vendor.”

Durkin said the transition to the new plant was not without its challenges. “We had to re-grade the site to allow for the new equipment to be installed,” he said. “We were on an accelerated schedule. We had to put enough material on the ground to get us through the install, which we did mid-year. It then took 30 days to set up the new plant and get back up and running.”

The install also required site work such as running electricity to the plant and installation of a dust-suppression system, not to mention the obligatory MSHA inspection. “Everything was very well orchestrated,” Durkin said. “And I can’t say enough about the help we received from Powerscreen of New England.”

The plant is located close to houses and industrial manufacturing, but Durkin feels like the new plant installation improves its commitment to the community. “We greatly reduced our use of diesel-powered equipment, so our emission situation is better and frankly, the new equipment runs quieter, so that helps with noise too,” he said.

The plant now produces 1-1/2-in. crushed stone, 1-1/2-in. dense graded base, 2- to 4-in. crushed stone, 3/4-in. crushed stone, ¾-in. graded base, 3/8-in. crushed stone, 3-in. minus base, 6-in. minus crushed stone, 6-10-in. crushed stone and stone dust/fill, among other products.

“We are now able better serve our existing customers and we have earned a few new ones too,” Durkin said.