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Hot-Mix Asphalt Remains Key to Palmetto’s Success

Palmetto’s hot-mix asphalt work was at core of the business when it was first started in 1987.

Thu May 28, 2015 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

South Carolina’s Palmetto Corporation, recognized as one of the Southeast’s top site development companies, offers a diverse set of services that includes grading, concrete, hauling and crushing — even commercial and residential building.

Palmetto’s hot-mix asphalt work was at core of the business when it was first started in 1987. That part of the company has only grown over the years to include asphalt production, testing and maintenance, and is a huge component of its success in 2015.

Headquartered in Conway, near Myrtle Beach, Palmetto has about 300 employees and serves central and eastern South Carolina, in addition to coastal North Carolina.

The company operates asphalt plants in Conway, Florence and Bishopville where it makes the road-surface material using virgin aggregate and recycled asphalt.

Powerscreen Equipment Getting a Workout

Palmetto produces a lot of its asphalt using crushing and screening machines supplied by Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic, the dealership for Powerscreen equipment in the Carolinas and the Virginias.

Powerscreen’s XH250 impact crusher, Pegson XR400S jaw crusher and Chieftain 1400 dry screener are all being utilized by Palmetto at its plants.

It is a good bet that Palmetto’s Powerscreen units are getting quite a workout. The Conway plant alone produces about 200,000 tons (181,436 t) of asphalt a year on average, according to Eric Faulk, company vice president.

“We have had other crushers from other suppliers in the past and one of the biggest things that pushed us toward Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic was its high level of service,” Faulk said. “We appreciated its guarantee of service and, once we actually got a machine on the ground, the fact that it followed through on everything it promised.”

Faulk also cites the great working relationship that Palmetto has maintained with Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic as being a key element in his company’s success. In particular, Palmetto’s Charlie Goll, the firm’s vice president of equipment services and purchases, has enjoyed a strong rapport with Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic’s sales team of Ian Williamson and Jeff Hunter.

He added that in an industry where everyone utilizes recycled material in some form, just having a reliable supply will not by itself give a company a competitive advantage anymore.

“To create that advantage, you have to focus more on process control and efficient and effective processing of the material itself,” Faulk said. “Powerscreen Mid-Atlantic has helped us to really fine tune and streamline our process to where we can get a cheaper product on the ground and gain a bit of an edge on the competition.”

A Mix of Old and New Material

Palmetto’s asphalt plants produce a great deal of hot-mix asphalt for the South Carolina DOT, as well as for various commercial projects and municipal projects in the area.

Increasingly, the company is turning out reclaimed asphalt pavement, or RAP, at its three plants.

This waste asphalt comes from various sources. A lot of it is milled from old roadways that are being replaced or resurfaced, while some is surplus from its asphalt plants. In addition, small contractors also bring old asphalt to Palmetto.

All of that asphalt is then processed through Palmetto’s crushers and screeners to produce a product that can then be mixed with virgin aggregate. Roughly 20 percent of the asphalt the company produces is repurposed asphalt, with the remaining 80 percent being virgin aggregate it buys from area quarries.

“At each of our three asphalt plants we run about 15 different types of asphalt,” Faulk said. “If we were not running RAP, we would be using 100 percent virgin material, which is obviously much more costly than if you were not using recycled material. However, I don’t think we will ever get to a point where we use 100 percent recycled material because too much recycled material tends to affect the integrity of the mix.”

Palmetto’s Powerscreen Chieftain 1400 screener has proven to be a big help in making RAP for its customers, Faulk said.

“Because there are different types of RAP you can utilize in these mixes — finer blends and coarser blends — the Chieftain really gives us the ability to create those two different materials to give us better control of the ultimate end product, which is the hot-mix asphalt,” Faulk said.

Concrete Also Can Be Recycled

At all three of its plants, in addition to an off-site recycling yard, Palmetto employs the Powerscreen XR400S Jaw Crusher primarily to process recycled concrete.

“With concrete, it is essentially the same overall process: Taking older material that would otherwise be hauled to a landfill and processing it down to where it is a product we can use, whether it is put on a DOT road, selling it to the public or using it in a commercial setting,” Faulk said. “We are just creating a useful product out of a seemingly useless one.”

Besides crushing on site to produce material for Palmetto, it also is able to mobilize its equipment and go to a customer’s site to crush product for them.

Most of those customers are construction companies with old concrete stored at their yards. This material is often waste that is hauled back to concrete plants. Additionally, small contractors who take up old sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and house foundations bring this material to Faulk’s company to be crushed.

A good example of Palmetto’s work was at a recent project in Pawleys Island where the firm moved in to crush the concrete from a condemned shopping center. Following its demolition, the pulverized concrete was used at the same site for a new Publix grocery store.

“Rather than going to the landfill and paying an astronomical tipping fee, we can crush the material for them at a fraction of the cost, which they can then incorporate back into their work and realize further savings,” Faulk said.

A Family Run Business

Palmetto Corp. was founded in 1987 as Palmetto Paving by Faulk’s uncle, Marshall Godwin. Marshall’s son (and Eric Faulk’s cousin), Shawn Godwin, is now president of the firm. In keeping with the family-run theme, Faulk’s father, Rusty, serves as company COO.

Eric Faulk sees Palmetto’s expansion over the next half decade remaining steady due to the range of services the company offers customers and clients.

“I think the keys to this company’s growth in terms of size and reach has been outstanding workmanship, excellent service and continually moving into different markets, such as the concrete work and our CMRB [Cement Modified Recycled Base] and building divisions,” Faulk said. “We must continue to find creative ways to go in and address a need. Wherever the work dictates we go is where we will head.”

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