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Firm Finds Niche With Crushers

Fri September 28, 2007 - Southeast Edition
Maura Bohart

Kids in yellow hats playing with Tonka trucks may be the construction workers of the future. For Chandler Lloyd, owner of Able Contracting, all the toy trucks paid off.

“I was a kid that never grew up,” he explained. “I liked Tonka trucks and now I like big trucks. It’s like you get paid to play.”

The interest has worked out well for Lloyd, whose Ridgeland, S.C., company now has 28 trucks, one dump truck, three crushers, three excavators, two densifiers, a hammer, three loaders and three screeners.

Originally, Able Contracting only did hauling, but in 2002, Lloyd had an idea for expansion. Able often transported asphalt and concrete away from job sites, dumping them at a landfill. But while Able was throwing these materials away, other contractors were trying to get them from quarries, and that was difficult, because the closest quarry was two-and-a-half hours south of Ridgeland.

If Able had a crusher, it could crush concrete and asphalt, recycle it and sell it. Instead of paying a landfill to take materials away, Able could get paid to keep them. It also would benefit the environment, because less concrete and asphalt would be wasted and local contractors would be grateful to have a close place to buy materials.

“I’d always wanted to crush the material,” Lloyd explained, “so it’s just a niche that we fell into.”

In 2002, Lloyd’s friend, Phil Lucius, helped Able find a good deal on a repossessed crusher. He asked for only one thing in return for his help.

“We had to get him a set of golf clubs,” Lloyd explained. It was a fair price.

Today, Able has three crushers — a Komatsu 480, a Komatsu BR380JG-1 and a Nordberg LT1110. The crushers are on tracks, and the impressive machines sometimes accompany Able to job sites, where they crush material on the scene with the help of three Hitachi EX270 excavators, which use a densifier or hammer to break up materials for the crushers.

“We try to get the concrete down to seat cushion size,” Lloyd said. “It’s like if you go to a steak house, you can’t work on that whole T-bone at one time, but if you cut it into small pieces, a forkful goes down quick.”

The Komatsu 480 and Nordberg LT1110 are impactors, crushers that use impact, not pressure. These crushers pound materials with internal hammers.

The Komatsu BR380JG-1 crusher has powerful jaws that squeeze material repeatedly until it breaks, like a nutcracker cracking a tough walnut shell.

When crushing rock, Lloyd believes in keeping things simple.

“Everybody acts like crushing is really complicated and it’s not. The hardest thing about rock is keeping your maintenance up on the crushers. If you stay on top of that, it’s easy.”

Once materials have been crushed, Able’s loaders — two Volvo L90s and a John Deere 624 — place the materials into dump trailers. The loaders are excellent employees. Not only do they load materials, but they also help with billing, calculating how many tons of materials they have loaded by weighing them on a computerized scale.

“We not only get a coded ticket [from the loaders], we get everything that loader has done. It’s nice detail, so that we can make sure we bill everybody correctly,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd has a strong sense of loyalty to those who have helped him.

“We buy all our trailers from General Truck,” he explained. “A long time ago, they took a chance on us and sold us a trailer. They helped me when I was small and struggling. Now, we don’t even take quotes from anyone else.”

History of Able Contracting

Lloyd has been in the hauling business for approximately 11 years. One of his early jobs was hauling debris after Hurricane Fran ravaged North Carolina in 1996, killing 26 people and causing more than $3 billion in damages.

DRC Inc., a construction company specializing in disaster recovery, hired Lloyd to haul hurricane debris to a landfill. It was no small task. The hurricane had created thousands of tons of debris.

“I met some of the finest people in North Carolina,” Lloyd said. “We were out there and they’d bring us food, brownies. Needless to say, I put on a few pounds.”

When he returned from the hurricane, Lloyd founded Able Contracting with his mother Joyce. Shortly after that, he met Kenny Heissenbuttle and Roy Spivey of Unicon Concrete LLC in Durham, N.C., and they hired Lloyd to haul sand to Unicon’s plants.

Over the next 11 years, Able Contracting, which started out as a tiny two-truck company, little more than a splotch on the South Carolina trucking map, grew into a successful business.

Lloyd said an important part of his strategy is to pay his employees well and keep his office environment fun.

“It’s not always peachy keen, but we like people that enjoy their work. We keep it fun and we treat our employees well,” Lloyd said.

He plans to branch out into other regions of the state, but doesn’t plan to expand into other areas of construction.

“We don’t want to be like the Swiss pocket knife and do a lot of things, but not do anything really well. We want to do what we do — and do it the best.”

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