by Diana Barnum
Ever wonder how the independent guys compete with the bigger guys
today? Check out Duff’s Quarry, founded in 1955.
C.E. Duff and Son,
Inc. may not represent a lion’s share of the quarry industry in Ohio, but
their operations with 75 employees in Hunstville, Zanesfield,
Bellefontaine and Lewistown are sure kicking up and digging out the
Duff’s headquarters in Huntsville lies on State Route 117. Its
four separate companies stretch across both sides of the highway.
is Duff Quarry, owned by James E. Duff (Jim), a full-service operation
offering crushed limestone products and washed sand and
Neighboring the quarry is one of Duff’s four Ohio Ready Mix,
Inc. plants, and an Ohio Lumber plant owned by sons Scott and J. David
(Dave) Duff. And across the street is a company owned by Dave called, Mr.
Concrete Builders Supply, a masonry, brick and block center built on an
old, abandoned quarry.
“We’re known for one-stop-shopping,” said Jim
Duff. “Bricks and lumber are shipped in to service our quarry
In addition to the one-stop-shopping feature,
Duff’s has another secret to success.
The company combines fixtures and
equipment from the past with the latest in technology. For instance,
forget about conveyors. Jim Duff prefers the discontinued 1974 Koehring
model 100 haul rigs with GMC diesels and Alison automatic transmission.
Two of these trucks move 300 tons per hour.
“They built these trucks to
last for years,” said Duff. “They have double steering wheels,
accelerators and controls. Koehring went out of business, but I purchased
used ones to keep for parts. There’s no need for conveyors with these
Other “old” items include the arches from the 1964 New York World’s
Fair. The giant arches carry the Duff Quarry sign, clearly identifying the
quarry. Cameras mounted atop the arches provide a full 360–degree view for
security and to locate personnel. Orange swivel stools from one of the
earliest McDonald’s restaurants offer customers at Mr. Concrete Builder
Supply a comfortable place to relax and enjoy refreshments.
One of the
quarry’s more peculiar “antiques” was eight Native American Indian
skeletons uncovered in the quarry’s overburden. The section where the
skeletons were found was sealed off for two weeks allowing historians and
scientists time to carefully study the site and to extricate the remains,
which they shipped to local museums.
And the New
Duff employs modern
equipment where it makes economical sense.
Duff’s quarry is 410-feet
deep. They crush 300 tons per hour with a Cedar Rapids 3042 primary jaw
plant with vibrating grizzly feeder on a two-axle chassis. Oversized rock
goes into windrows, then gets hit with a hydraulic hammer. A Cedar Rapids
portable grizzly screens out fines.
The water table feeds into a system
of French drains that feed into a manmade lake where it is pumped out for
Jim Duff prefers the Cat 966G with Cat scales for loading.
He remembers checking out a load at another quarry that was off by just a
few pounds. The site operators made him dump the entire load and then
reload and be reweighed to be sure the weights were accurate. So Duff’s
operators use Cat scales to accurately weigh the material while it’s being
Using the latest computer hardware and software, Scott Duff
manages both the Huntsville and Bellefontaine operations from his office
in Huntsville “You can weigh loads and print tickets from an unmanned
station miles away,” said Scott Duff. “You can even make adjustments like
add water to the (concrete) mix, by pushing buttons from here.”
remote system keeps them competitive by reducing payroll for other
Operating remotely demands excellent communication. Scott’s
office houses an excellent communications system – Data Mate (DM) 1000
series MDT (Mobile Data Terminal) from Wireless Data Solutions/Dinet
“Our mobile data terminals interface with already established
2-way radio systems,” said Bob Chase, president of Dinet.Inc. “Duff’s uses
our DOS software to provide text messages of up to 244 characters to one
mobile unit or a group of mobile units.”
With the DM 1000, each truck
automatically acknowledges receipt of messages. And all information is
time stamped for accuracy. Management can construct reports out of the
data, reaping cost benefits for companies. Expenses are reduced with
driver accountability and vehicle status reports. And operations are
improved, providing a competitive advantage.
“We offer Fleet Vantage
Gold software for automatic status reporting,” added Chase. “It’s a level
above what Duff’s uses. Information is automatically passed and 70% of the
keys are eliminated.”
Duff recognizes it cannot do it all.
keep up with the latest in blasting technology, Duff opted to forego
drilling and blasting operations over the past year.
“Precision is the
key to good blasting,” said Duff. He now subcontracts with Northern Ohio
Explosives and Stoepfel Drilling Company, relying on their expertise and
Technology is not the only “new” element in the
Family operations have recently expanded with another
generation. Jim’s 21-year-old grandson Jason added a new dimension to the
family business – ComStor Outdoor Advertising (leasing billboard space)
and Community Storage and Properties, Ltd. storage and realty).
with what works, but incorporating technology when it makes sense is
fundamental to Duff Quarry’s success. Combine that with their
determination to meet customer needs by providing a full range of products
and services and it is easy to see why they have risen to the top as an
independently operated quarry.
For more information about Duff Quarry
and all the Duff ancillary businesses, contact Jim Duff at P.O. Box 305,
9016 S.R. 117, Huntsville, OH 43324. Call: (937) 686-3112; or fax
inquiries to: (937) 686-5125.