EESSCO, Sandvik Solve Bill Willard’s Crushing Dilemma

Thu January 15, 2004 - Northeast Edition
Craig Mongeau

Employing a textbook case of the cliche “give and take,” a western Massachusetts business recently solved a serious production problem and has been reaping the rewards of its ingenuity ever since.

Bill Willard Inc., an aggregate producer, located in Florence, which is northwest of Springfield and is situated on the eastern cusp of the Berkshire mountains, has a 200-acre sand and gravel pit on the edge of town. Well, not quite on the edge of town, anymore.

Since the company’s founding by William Horace Willard in 1920, the town has crawled closer to the pit. As a result, in the interest of promoting “neighborly” conditions and enforcing myriad environmental regulations, Florence, like nearly every other town on America, makes it virtually impossible for a business to expand its operations — especially a sand and gravel pit.

But Willard Inc. needed to expand to survive.

In its pit, over the course of eight decades a constant supply of hard rock had approached near extinction. However, Bill Willard, vice president of the company that bears his and his grandfather’s name, knew that permits to expand quarries also would be in short supply.

To solve this dilemma, Willard found a unique, yet simple, solution — the company would expand its gravel pit into a sand and gravel/recycling facility and he would work with local contractors to do this. Of course, when contractors rip up road or tear down buildings they often pay to have the materials hauled away.

What Willard has done is send its drivers out to job sites within a 50-mi. radius of its pit to pick up the materials and haul them back to Florence, where they will be sorted, crushed and mixed with stone to produce aggregate. Materials include excavated rock, asphalt and concrete.

In addition, area contractors working on smaller jobs have found it very easy to take the materials to Willard as needed. Recently Route 66 was being reconditioned and Willard hauled 23,000 tons (20,700 t) of rock back to his pit for future recycling.

Willard Inc. now offers transit mixed concrete and washed sand and gravel, which includes unwashed road sand, washed road sand, washed concrete sand, washed mason sand, washed three-eighth-in. stone, washed half-in. stone, washed three-quarter-in. stone, washed 1.25-in.stone, 3-in. tailings and traprock chips.

“At our pit, sand is very plentiful, but rock for gravel is in short supply,” said Bill Willard. “Taking in these demolition materials has been a real lifesaver for both our customers and us. Typically, there is even hauling savings for the contractor. Nine times out of 10, if a contractor is bringing in a load to leave at our facility he reloads his truck with a load of sand or gravel to take back to his job site.”

If the recycled materials come in short supply, Willard also periodically purchases loads of shot rock. Willard does not accept any wood materials at his facility but will accept any material that is environmentally clean and can be crushed.

Until very recently, Bill Willard Inc.’s jaw crusher was a 25 x 40 Rogers crusher, which had been in operation since 1954. According to Willard, it has always been a real workhorse. But it was reaching the point of facing a major rebuild and Willard couldn’t justify spending the money to rebuild a jaw crusher that was 50 years old. Concurrently, though, he also knew purchasing a new jaw crusher would be a significant investment.

Nevertheless, the Rogers was really limping along and the downtime was becoming a major issue. The estimated repair bill to get the Rogers crushing again was nearly $60,000, so Willard decided to purchase a new one. He requested bids from virtually every manufacturer in the country and was pleasantly surprised to find that the lowest quote for a new crusher came from nearby EESSCO, of Norwell, MA.

Bill Willard has had a strong relationship with Dick Vining, sales manager of EESSCO, since 1970.

“Over the years we have always counted on service above and beyond the call of duty and on-time parts delivery from Dick and the people at EESSCO,” began Willard. “So you can imagine how happy we were when the lowest quote to replace our jaw came from EESSCO with a Sandvik 32 x 42 1108 jaw crusher. Not only that, the service from EESSCO has always been astounding.

’They helped match up the right plant for our needs. Dick Vining and Mike Southwell [sale and service representative of EESSCO] were here the day the equipment was delivered, and they helped us with the fabrication process. And all through the process, Dick and Mike were the first ones to roll up their sleeves and pitch in.”

The Sandvik has now been up and running since this past October and Willard has not experienced one second of downtime. (With its old crusher, downtime occurred at least every two weeks.) Downtime, if one call it that, was even kept at a minimum when the Sandvik was installed — EESSCO had it crushing within three days of delivery. It would have been two days if not for rain on one of the days.

In just a few months, Willlard has found a major benefit of the Sandvik’s greater fly wheel inertia designed into the machine’s jaw master.

Willard explained, “We experienced several unexpected power outages since we’ve been using the Sandvik and the crusher’s flywheel kept it operating long enough until the chamber was cleared. This is a real production value considering the time it might have taken to dig out a partially full crusher.

“Another detail we didn’t expect with the purchase was the reduction of ambient noise. With the crusher installed in a potentially noise-sensitive area, this is something we will appreciate by being a good neighbor.”

A happy customer is what business should be all about and Willard is definitely that.

“Once again, we have been assured that our close affiliation with EESSCO is the right decision,” he said. “And, down the road, as we look at a new plant and possibly a new portable crusher, EESSCO will be a part of those plans.”