Hamilton Aggregates: Vision and Success

Back in February 2006, Edward and Genia Hamilton decided it was the right time to set up their own quarrying business. Edward’s 12 years in the industry as quarry planner, where he had the task of designing the most efficient operational processes, provided him with the expertise and the vision to see that given the right economic opportunities, the Hamilton’s could run a very profitable venture. Thus, Hamilton Aggregates was born.

The Bonds quarry, located in Clinton, Ark., had an initial plant consisting of an Extec (now Sandvik) C12+ mobile jaw crushers and an E7 mobile scalper, which were rented from Brian Costello from Crushing Tigers, the local distributor of Sandvik mobile crushers and screeners.

Exhibiting a savvy business strategy that many large corporations could learn from, Edward Hamilton developed a 20-year plan from the very outset, which included the acquisition of more equipment to supply a varying and growing demand.

Going Mobile
As mobile units can be moved to the source of material, and be quickly set up to process it on site, Edward Hamilton decided to utilize their capabilities in order to make his operation more productive.

The advantage of plant mobility alone would allow the quarry operation to save the time and money of having an operator transport the blasted material to a stationary crusher. Furthermore, the different models in the mobile range could be put to work in different combinations in order to suit differing customers’ material requirements. This mobility and flexibility suited Hamilton’s lean processing approach and with guidance from Costello, Edward Hamilton decided to purchase his first complete set of mobiles.

The full initial set-up, consisting of an Extec (now Sandvik) C12+ jaw crusher, an E7 scalper, an S5 doublescreen and an X44 cone crusher, allowed the site to produce 360,000 tons in 2007.

During 2008, an extra jaw and scalper were added to the operation, which expanded an extra five acres, and produced 400,000 tons. In 2009, a challenging one for aggregate producers throughout the United States, saw production decline to 300,000. However, Edward and Genia’s focus on efficient production processes resulted in commercial prospects positive enough to open up an extra 10 acres in the quarry. Nowadays, the set-up consists of a Sandvik mobile QJ341 jaw crusher, a QE440 scalper, a QA450 triple deck screener and an Extec X44 cone.

The Sandvik machines are the main material processing plant at Bonds, of which Costello says, “There is a misconception that you cannot use the mobiles as the main equipment in a quarry. These machines can be very productive and are very cost effective.”

User Friendly
The user friendliness of the machines contributes to their lower operating costs, as both crushers and screeners are designed for ease of operation; thereby one operator can run the whole train.

As Edward Hamilton himself states: “These mobiles are quality machines. They provide us with lower operating costs and high production for their size.”

A variety of final material sizes are produced at Bonds, including:

  • 1-in.: used in concrete rock.
  • ½-in.: asphalt chip.
  • 3⁄16-in.: asphalt dust.
  • 1 ½-in. : road base.
  • 4-12-in.: erosion control.

The Greers Ferry quarry, located in Higden, Ark., is another sample of how the combination of expertise and knowledge of the customer’s needs allowed the Hamilton’s to successfully grow their business.

This site was acquired in order to supply material for the construction of a bridge for the Highway Department of Arkansas. The supply of high quality and competitively priced aggregates were crucial in securing the winning bid.

Low Costs
In addition to the low costs of material transportation due to the proximity of the quarry to the construction site, Edward Hamilton knew that in order to provide the required high-quality material at competitive prices, the output had to be planned from the blasting stages. Even though this planning can come at a higher price, since tighter patterns can be costly, they can also eventually save money on secondary crushing.

As Hamilton explains, “For every nickel I spend (blasting), I save a dime in the crushing.” Hence a Sandvik QJ340 jaw crusher (predecessor to the current QJ341) is run in tandem with a QE340 scalper, crushing and screening limestone at 24-in., which is then used for the foundation of the bridge, in addition to base, gabion and rip rap.

The constant steady supply required from the Greer Ferry quarry emphasizes the need for a reliable aftermarket support, as Genia Hamilton explains: “Providing a good customer support has made us competitive in this market, so getting good customer service from Crushing Tigers has been essential. The fact that we can pick up the phone, and speak to somebody who knows about crushers, and our business, like Pat Doab, or Brian, is a big thing.”

As to the advice they have received, Edward Hamilton adds, “The equipment has proved to be highly reliable, but after discussing our needs with Crushing Tigers we run the machines for 9 hours each day, and then run a preventative maintenance schedule to ensure reliability and maximum productivity.”

The full product offering that Sandvik has available, which caters for smaller producers as well as larger operations such as Hamilton Aggregates, has also been an added bonus from an after sales perspective. “The full range of Sandvik mobile crushers and screeners offered through Crushing Tigers proves very efficient for the running of our operation from the after-sales point of view since we speak to the same set of people, who already know our needs, and our business,” Edward Hamilton said.

Moving Along
Hamilton’s Prior Mountain quarry, located in Quitman, Ark., supplies material on demand for the local market. This is easily accomplished as the mobile crushers and screeners may be easily and quickly moved between the different quarries, with production being rapidly started due to the machines very quick start-up. This flexibility allows Hamilton Aggregates to be highly responsive to different customers’ needs.

It is the versatility highlighted above, together with the Hamiltons’ vision, which has permitted Hamilton Aggregates to diversify into contracting in 2009. This has been so successful that the current revenues for this activity amount to 20 percent of the annual turnover. Furthermore, the prospects for added expansion of this side of the business are made favorable by the good resale value the machines get, and by the customer financing opportunities that Sandvik Finance, a company owned by the Swedish group, is able to offer.

Over the last seven years, Edward and Genia Hamilton’s vision has been proved correct, enabling Hamilton Aggregates to progress from a single 0.5 acre quarry, to now operating three separate highly productive, efficient and profitable quarries, and supply a variety of aggregates for the construction industry’s requirements.

Hamilton Aggregates’ operation has produced more than 2 million tons of material, supplying a customer base that has grown to include gas industries, road asphalt companies and even nearby counties. It has also successfully diversified into a growing contracting business.

However, what has remained constant during this time has been that the expansion has been the result of intelligent planning, high levels of customer service received from the Crushing Tigers team, and working with quality equipment. These factors have all resulted in helping provide Hamilton Aggregates’ customers with what they want, when they want it, and where they want it.