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Rock-Solid Companies Founded on Strong Partnership

Fri August 14, 2009 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Hetrick

In the year 2000 Jeremy Blum was a currency broker working on Wall Street. Today, he is the owner and president of three companies, all of which stemmed from the purchase of a pool company in Connecticut that he read about in The Wall Street Journal.

With the purchase of Fairfield Pool, Fairfield, Conn., Blum found himself the owner of a well-established company that had its origins in 1965. The company had been installing pools at a rate of about 70 a year, which quickly went up to 100 pools a year in the first few years of Blum’s ownership. And during the course of those early years, Blum came to rely on Rudy Mobilio, who had long been an employee with Fairfield Pool and stayed with the company when Blum purchased it.

Starting a Perfect Partnership

Mobilio came to Blum with the idea of recycling the materials that were excavated during pool construction. At the time, the materials were simply hauled away and often Fairfield Pool had to pay to get rid of them. Mobilio wanted to save those materials to either use in other pool projects or to make materials that could be sold to area contractors and landscapers.

At Mobilio’s suggestion, Blum purchased a small Thomas screening plant and Mobilio started to have all excavated pool materials screened to created screened topsoil or loam. He then began to stockpile the topsoil in Fairfield Pool’s yard and it wasn’t long before word got out that those items were available there.

The demand for the topsoil increased rapidly, which gave Mobilio the idea to start carrying other items that contractors and landscapers use, thus creating one-stop shopping. Mobilio began to stock mulch, decorative stone, paving blocks and other materials for the newfound customer base, and Fairfield Stone and Landscape Supply LLC, Blum’s second company, was born, with locations in Fairfield and Monroe, Conn. Mobilio is currently the general manager of this company.

Blum’s third company, New England Thinstones, Fairfield and Monroe, Conn., began when Mobilio came up with a new concept. Mobilio’s idea was to take various types of New England stone and slice them with a stone guillotine. The sliced stone could then be applied to a foundation wall, fireplace or any flat surface in the same way that tile is applied. With the natural stone face exposed, the mounted slices look like actual stone and mortar work, but are significantly lighter and take less time to install. The venture has been so successful that Blum recently purchased a quarry, Chesterfield Stone, in Chester, Vt., to ensure that he always has the quality and quantity of stone needed to meet the growing demand.

The amount of success the two men have shared in such a short time came about, according to Blum, “because we brought totally different skill sets and backgrounds to the table. I have a business and financial background on one side and Rudy has a well-established and well-connected masonry, construction and landscape background on the other. One could not have succeeded without the other partner and there is very little second guessing the other’s decisions.”

Keeping Up With

Swift Change

With business growing in all directions in less than a decade, Blum has had to expand his equipment fleet well beyond the first screening plant he purchased, which has since been replaced with a McCloskey trommel screener. To do this, Blum has turned, time and again, to Westchester Tractor, Brewster, N.Y., and sales representative Chris Reseska, whose territory includes the entire state of Connecticut representing Kobelco and New Holland lines.

Blum purchased his first excavator, a Kobelco 115, for the newly acquired Fairfield Pool in 2001. At the time Kobelco was the innovator in introducing zero tail swing excavators to the U.S. market. The 30,000-lb. (13,608 kg) Kobelco 115 was a perfect fit for the often-tight spaces a pool installer has to work in. The machine met all of the quality standards that Blum and Mobilio were looking for in an excavator and it was very competitively priced. Eight years after making the purchase Blum and Mobilio report that the excavator has never experienced failure. They have continued to grow their excavator fleet, and it’s no surprise that all of the subsequent excavators they have purchased have been Kobelco.

In 2005 they purchased a Kobelco 160, a 36,000-lb. (16,329 kg) machine, to feed the Thomas screening plant when Fairfield Pools started to expand into Fairfield Stone and Landscape Supply. As Fairfield Stone and Landscape Supply started selling more materials, Blum and Mobilio needed a skid steer loader to move the materials in the yard. Once again, Chris Reseska at Westchester Tractor came through with the perfect machine, a New Holland L-185 skid steer, which has more than satisfied their needs.

With the growth of New England Thinstones, Blum and Mobilio recently purchased a Kobelco SK210-8 48,000 lb. (21,772 kg) excavator with a Maverick 4,000 lb. (1,814 kg) hammer from Reseska at Westchester Tractor. The hammer was needed to break down larger rocks into a size that could be handled through the stone guillotine.

According to Blum his companies have been “very satisfied with the performance of the Kobelco machines. I feel that I am getting a high quality machine that is extremely reliable with a good pricing advantage.”

Mobilio agrees that “the Kobelco equipment has been very reliable, considering the punishment it takes. The service and parts department at Westchester Tractor has been great. Chris Reseska often drives the parts to us personally if we are in a pinch.”

And like all good business relationships, the satisfaction is on both sides, according to Reseska who said, “Westchester Tractor along with Kobelco-New Holland would like to thank Jeremy and Rudy for trusting us to become such an integral part of their highly successful organization. We as business partners will always strive to exceed their expectations and maintain that trust.” CEG

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