Tamrock Drills Keeping Up With the Joneses in Bustling Atlanta

Fri May 13, 2005 - Southeast Edition

J.B. Jones Drilling is one of the busiest drilling and blasting contractors in the equally busy Atlanta area, where new residential and commercial construction sites seem to appear as naturally as Georgia peaches in the spring.

To keep up with this volume of business — and to make sure it is meeting its customer’s needs — J.B. Jones Drilling relies on strong family tradition and its fleet of Tamrock surface drill rigs from Sandvik Mining and Construction.

Family traditions at J.B. Jones Drilling run deep. Eight sons and daughters of employees, including Owner Joe Jones’ daughter Caroline, the new operations manager, work for the company. One of those, Billy Cross, a driller, already is a five-year veteran and was recently running a Tamrock Ranger 700-2 rig, excavating a hill to prepare a retail business job site in Canton, GA, northeast of Atlanta. Working alongside him was his uncle, Dwight Maney, a blaster, who supervised the precise blasting taking place within a few yards of existing homes.

This job site is typical of projects that are keeping J.B. Jones Drilling busy. It’s in Cherokee County, which used to be a distant suburb of Atlanta but which now is experiencing the same kind of growth as the state’s largest city. The 10 counties that make up the greater Atlanta region added approximately 250,000 residents between 2000 and 2003 and the growth is continuing.

Safety and High Production

Most of the company’s work now involves site preparation for housing subdivisions, including road cuts and outfall work, preparing trenches for sewer and water lines. That means its Tamrock drills must work in a variety of rock and soil conditions, everything from granite to mud — or “swamp” as Joe calls it.

“I feel that the Tamrock drills, due to their versatility, give us the opportunity to be more flexible with whatever conditions we find, from mud to rock. And when ground conditions are bad, we can still get the Tamrock drills to the work sites,” Caroline Jones said.

The company uses Tamrock Ranger 700-2s, Ranger 800-2s, CHA 1000s and CHA 1100s. It also runs a Rammer breaker. The greatest benefits of these rugged and reliable drill rigs bear directly on the company’s philosophy and on how it works with its many customers: Safety and ease of operation on the one hand, and efficient, high-production drilling on the other.

“Safety has always been our number one concern for our employees,” Joe said. “And Sandvik Mining and Construction has always been very good about providing the training that can help our operators run these drills in a safe and efficient manner.”

In fact, J.B. Jones Drilling is considering buying additional Tamrock Ranger drills as its business grows because of the reliability of the machines and the solid support from Sandvik Mining and Construction.

’An Uncanny Knack for Business’

Caroline has taken over the day-to-day operation of the family business, J.B. Jones Drilling from her father. A successful transition within a family business is remarkable enough, but particularly when the new boss is a 27-year-old former biology and human and natural ecology major with a brief five-year history in the industry.

“It was very impressive to me that she could get the concept of the drilling and blasting business without much previous experience in it,” Joe said. “She started out as a newcomer to the industry, but now when the guys want to discuss a shot, they call her.”

That may explain why Caroline seems to spend a lot of time on her cell phone while visiting job sites.

J.B. Jones Drilling has been around for approximately 30 years, and grew out of drilling work the Jones family did in a talc mine in northern Georgia.

Growing up, Caroline did not spend much time at her father’s business. After she graduated from Atlanta’s Emory College in 2000, however, she realized a career in her chosen field of genetic engineering would take many more years of education and training. With little business or construction industry background, she decided to help her father instead. She has enjoyed every minute of her choice.

“I realized the opportunity to work with my dad would get me out of the office to work in the field. I like being outdoors,” Caroline said.

“It turns out she had an uncanny knack for business,” Joe Jones said. “She really picked up on the details of the job quite quickly.”

In addition to being a quick study, Caroline was fortunate to have good teachers, including her father and the many long-time employees of J.B. Jones Drilling. She also received training on the equipment at the nearby Sandvik Mining and Construction facility in Atlanta.

“People stay here because the company makes it possible to make a good living for your family. You know what you can expect. Everything’s on an even keel,” said Maney, who has worked in the drilling and blasting industry for 39 years (15 with J.B. Jones Drilling).

Tamrock Drills Provide Variety of Solutions

Sandvik Mining and Construction’s Tamrock Ranger drills are crawler-based, self-contained, hydraulic top-hammer rigs used in construction, quarrying and surface mining operations. An optimal hammer and power pack for each of the series’ four models (including the Ranger 500-2 and the Ranger 600-2) ensures that every hole size between two and five inches can be drilled efficiently, even in extreme or fractured rock.

The Tamrock Ranger’s design mounts the power pack at the rear, counterbalancing the boom and feed assemblies; this reduces overall weight and makes them stable. The rigs’ revolving superstructure swings in a 120-degree arc (180 degrees is optional), offering a large coverage area — 189 sq. ft. (with 284 sq. ft. optional). This also allows the operator to face towards the drilling spot at all times.

Reach is quick and spotting fast throughout the entire drilling range, greatly reducing set-up time. This enables the operator to drill more holes, faster, from a single set-up, something the Joneses have noticed.

The Ranger’s ergonomic design helps operators with enhanced visibility and simple controls that are easily reached. In fact, the Rangers’ ROP and FOPS-certified cabin is much like a safety box, with heavy-duty construction that protects the operator and keeps noise levels at less than 80 decibels. A single proportional joystick controls the drilling, and routine functions, such as anti-jamming, are executed automatically.

Most commonly used in civil engineering applications in hole sizes between one and five-eighths and 4 in., Sandvik Mining and Construction’s Tamrock CHA drill rigs also are crawler-mounted, hydraulic top-hammer machines. CHA rigs feature onboard compressors that the manufacturer said provides efficient flushing and keeps holes clear of cuttings.

From Drilling and Blasting To Organic Farming

The transition of Caroline from daughter to operations manager at J. B. Jones Drilling has enabled Joe to become a full-time resident since 2002 of the Caribbean island of St. Croix. He is a partner in the March Group LLP, a financial service and investment banking partnership. He has recently been a consultant to drilling companies, including J.B. Jones Drilling. And he’s able to assist his son, Ben, with his organic farming endeavors.

From a booming and growing Atlanta to a quieter role on sandy beaches suits Joe just fine.

“I am very pleased to see the family traditions continue, but even more pleased to be on the sidelines watching it with just an occasional call to answer a question.”