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Hylka Construction Still Digs Success After 60 Years

Fri September 19, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Hetrick

One day 60 years ago, Francis Hylka came home and told his wife, Gloria, that he had purchased a dump truck. At the time, he was a mill worker and was tired of working indoors. With hopes of starting a construction business, he decided that buying the dump truck would be a good first step to achieving that goal. And within a few months Francis and Gloria bought a gravel pit and Hylka Construction Co. Inc., Dudley, Mass., was born.

Francis died in 1997, leaving the company in the capable hands of Gloria, who still serves as the company’s bookkeeper, and their son, Fran, who is company president. Fran started working in his parents’ company part-time during his teen years and became a full-time employee after he finished school. Fran’s son, Jon, followed his father’s example and he too worked part-time at Hylka during high school and college. Upon graduating from Worcester Polytechnic in 1998, Jon became the full-time plant manager in the family business.

During Francis’s tenure he took the company from a one-man operation involving a dump truck and a shovel through a period where crane work was a high priority through several years of excavation work and back to the original sand and gravel business by the early 1980s, when dramatic growth in companies that specialized in excavation created a great deal of competition and there were fewer jobs to be had.

The company that Fran, Jon and Gloria run today produces sand, gravel and crushed stone as its primary products. The quarry covers 200 acres (80.9 ha). Eight employees handle everything from arranging aggregate deliveries through independent truckers to operating the four rubber-tired loaders, three rock trucks and two excavators as well as some recently purchased crushing equipment.

In 1984, when the first stationary crushing plant was installed, Hylka’s capacity was 500 tons (453 t) a day. “Throughout the years,” Jon said, “there have been many changes and upgrades, with an eye towards increased production. A major upgrade of our washing and classification equipment was completed in 2006 with an eye toward quality control as well as production.”

Today, with all of the changes and upgrades that have taken place at Hylka, production stands at 2,500 to 3,000 tons (2,267 to 2,721 t) a day, depending on what product is being produced. To keep up with the increased production demand, particularly the need to produce more sand, Jon turned to Chris Salafia, of EESSCO, Hanson, Mass., a supplier of aggregate equipment and parts in New England for more than a decade, to work out the best tertiary crusher for the company.

Using his years of experience in the quarry industry, Salafia pointed Jon in the direction of a manufacturer called REMco, Livermore, Calif., which is represented in New England by EESSCO. REMco manufactures vertical shaft impactors (VSIs), which give aggregate producers the ability to turn rock into sand. REMco offers the world’s broadest range of rock-on-rock and rock-on-anvil VSI crushers. REMco offers six different models of VSI crushers to match the needs of any aggregate manufacturer.

The selection of the right VSI crusher through EESSCO was more than a matter of matching customer needs with the right machine on paper. Salafia took the team from Hylka to other aggregate producers so they could see the crushers at work firsthand and verify their production capabilities. In addition, samples of stone taken from the Hylka quarry were shipped to the REMco headquarters to be analyzed by REMco engineers to determine the right crusher for Hylka’s needs. The feed size sent to the factory was sent through a crushing circuit and then through a sieve analysis to show what product could be obtained. At that point it was decided a SandMax 250 Crusher would best fit their needs.

In addition to having positive experiences while visiting plants using the REMco crushers and getting good results back from the REMco engineers, Jon said he “was very impressed with the quality of the product being made by the REMco VSI crushers. REMco was producing a very cubicle product versus an elongated product. A cubicle product is important for a number of our customers. For example, in the production of concrete, a cubicle aggregate makes for a much smoother surface.”

What really made the decision to go with REMco instead of the other brands Hylka considered was the fact that, according to Jon, “REMco was willing to put in writing what the cost per ton in wear parts for the production of sand would be based on the results of the testing they did on product taken from our quarry. To me, this demonstrates that REMco really understands the sand-making process and has the utmost confidence in their product’s performance.”

The REMco VSI crusher “was purchased in January ’08, installed by Hylka personnel and put into service in mid-June ’08. As of August 15, we have just over 400 hours on the crusher,” according to Jon.

“The addition of the Remco was intended to complement the rest of the plant, and allow an increased production capacity for high quality sand. And, indeed, the REMco is making an excellent quality sand with low production costs and is meeting all of our production expectations. Our customers have been very satisfied not only with the availability of the sand, but also with the quality of the sand that is being produced,” said Jon. CEG

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