XPress Materials LLC Keeping Pace with Fast Growing Community

by Diana Barnum, Correspondent
Suppliers and contractors used to be two different groups of people. But lately with regards to making concrete, they are one and the same as contractors are becoming producers.
“We can do the job from start to finish,” said Rob Coleman, plant manager of XPress Materials, LLC in Wildwood, Florida. “Complete turnkey operations.” XPress Materials, LLC is a division of Graham Family of Companies of Dublin, Georgia. Set up quickly in three months, the company was established on a 119-acre site two years ago to serve The Villages, a rapidly developing community between Gainesville and Tampa. The Villages is expanding at the rate of over 4,000 homes per year and is currently home to over 50,000 residents enjoying an active retirement lifestyle.
From the beginning, the challenge for XPress Materials was to have a ready mix plant up and running quickly that had the capacity to service the four major concrete contractors for the developing area. The goal was to get the mix out.
With one main production mix already standardized, using a horizontal roll mixer, Coleman focused on capacity operations and supplementing with transit mix operations. Then he focused on dispatch operations and how to keep in close touch with his clients for quality service.
His site incorporates a centralized Systech Systems communications setup that features an integrated dispatching and accounting system. This system interacts with their vehicles’ Trimble GPS tracking systems and with two 42-inch plasma screens on computers with Trimview software, part of the Trimble GPS system. XPress Materials functions with help from an IT department at their headquarters in Dublin, GA and locally in Wildwood, FL.
“Some said it couldn’t be fully intergrated, but we did it,” said Coleman.
Coleman sends his staff to continuing education classes. He started with 55 workers; staff, drivers, managers, etc., and now has 105. The best way for seeking new employees has been word-of-mouth and their good reputation with state of the art technology.
Other Equipment & Fleet Operations
Xpress Materials is setup for contactor convenience. There is a continuous flow of traffic throughout the site with no three-point turns for truck drivers. Benefits include increased safety, quality service for contractors, and efficiency of operations and dispatching.
They maintain a fleet of 87 trucks. There are 40 mixer trucks; 20 Peterbilt and rear discharges plus 20 Oshkosh Front Discharge Mixers. All vehicles feature autolube and GPS systems. And they have 47 dump trucks; all are new standard Kenworth T-800 models with Ox Bodies, autolube systems and Trimble GPS tracking.
Concrete operations take place on approximately 22 acres of the site. Besides the parking lot area there is a maintenance shop with overhead cranes and pulleys in the works (due to open in about six months).
A Reclaimer from Stephens Manufacturing separates sand and stone hauled in from other sources, including Brooksville Quarry in Florida. And dry and wet batch plants, also from Stephens Manufacturing who installed all the equipment, are tied to a central feed hopper system that runs off Stephens’ radial stackers and conveyors, carrying material in overhead bins with scales that weight mixes for the concrete trucks. A Cat 980 and a Cat 966 both feed the hopper.
“We can do 500 yards per hour,” explained Coleman. “And we average about 445,000 cubic yards of concrete a year.”
A 12- to 13-hour day, 6- to 7-days a week based upon need, means both concrete plants and the Reclaimer are running nearly all the time. Two people run each plant, one manages / operates the automated Reclaimer. XPress Materials performs all maintenance in-house.
For speed, crews use the wet batch plant with an Inventure series mixer. It only takes one minute and 10 seconds and is used for morning jobs; driveway slabs sidewalks – quick flat work. The dry batch plant is used in the afternoon and takes two minutes and 20 seconds for jobs like block-fill and curb work.
Marketing Tips
Xpress Materials shared some of their marketing tips for such large concrete operations. They mail professionally crafted, full-color company “Thank You” cards with personal letters monthly to buyers, regular customers, job quotes, etc. At events and via the mail, they distribute DVDs enclosed in full-color company branded tri-folds in envelopes. And they conduct site tours for potential and future clients like their homebuilders.
“What clients say…”
“We buy about 95 percent of our concrete from XPress,” said Pattie Caughey, office manager at LPI (Lenard Powell, Inc., Panasoffkee, FL) Curb Service. “ We run a pre-caste operation here.” Caughey said their service is a definite improvement over their previous provider; XPress is reliable, always on time, has better pricing and tries to squeeze in their tight jobs when they pop up.
Another contractor shared comments about XPress. “They’re a good bunch of people,” said Cristina Weiss, administrative assistant at C.W. Roberts Contracting Inc. (Wildwood, FL).
“They’re always willing to get out that day, even if we’re in a pinch. They’re always on time, always helpful with any invoicing issues and fast with concrete. We do a lot of road work; they help us with concrete driveways and curb work.”
Community Outreach
XPress Materials is active in the community. Some of their activities include participation in LifeNet, providing air transport for injured patients. They earned an award for helping to raise donations for a new helicopter pad and building it. Other neighborhood participation includes the sponsoring of Kiwanis, softball teams, beauty pageants, Special Needs collections and Relay for Life, a walk for cancer survivors. The future is still growing for XPress Materials. As their region populates, they are considering expansion with other facilities.
For more information, contact Xpress Materials, LLC, C/O Graham Family of Companies, 1103 Highway 29 South, P.O. Drawer 3099, Dublin, GA 30127; 478-272-7591; or fax inquiries to 478-275-5289; go online at www.grahamcompanies.us
To learn more about Stephens Manufacturing, call 877-626-0200; or fax inquiries to 270-487-8368; go online at www.stephensmfg.comxpress