Concrete Newcomers See Quick Returns
Nearly every business starting out would like to experience the phenomenal growth that GCH Concrete did in its first year. The Granbury, Texas-company's story is especially compelling, considering that the Petty family, who owns and operates it, had no experience running a concrete plant when they began building one two years ago.
"Before opening GCH Concrete, we had a company geared toward the oil and gas industry with an emphasis on pipelining," explained Malcolm Petty, Owner and President. "That business involved some concrete work, but we mainly subbed that out at first and learned to pour and place as we went. As far as running a batch plant, we had no idea. We hired someone to teach us how to run the facility and make mix designs."
After obtaining the necessary permits to start a plant, the Pettys began the building process in January 2015. They sold their first batch just five months later.
GCH Concrete is a strong, family business owned and operated by Malcolm and his wife, Patti, their sons Cole and Cade along with their wives, Lisa and Kelby. Each member of the Petty family plays a prominent role. Malcolm oversees the company, Cole runs the quarry, and Cade takes care of the concrete plant. Patti is the Office Manager, Lisa does accounts receivables and Kelby handles accounts payable.
The Pettys moved to the Granbury area a little more than 10 years ago. At the time, Cole was in flight school in Arlington. The family came to visit him for Christmas, and decided they liked the Dallas-Fort Worth area well enough to make it their new home.
"Our background was in farming in west Texas, near Seminole," recalled Malcolm, noting that GCH stands for Gaines County Harvesters, the name of the family farm. "My father and I farmed for 30 years. After visiting Cole, we got out of farming and moved here, really with no plan. A developer asked us to help him, which led us into the quarry business. That work evolved into oil and gas pipelining, and the quarry end dropped off."
Variety of Mixes
Recognizing the cyclical nature of the oil and gas industry, the Pettys knew they needed to diversify.
"The timing was perfect," noted Cole. "A gentleman we worked with in pipelining said there was a definite need for additional concrete suppliers in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and surrounding areas. We decided to take a chance. The amount of construction going on right now is phenomenal, so we have remained busy since day one. We knocked on a lot of doors to let people know we were in business, and it paid off."
GCH Concrete generally delivers within a 60-mile radius that includes the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Its largest delivery order to date totaled almost 700 yards.
"We started with six mix trucks, and we're up to 10," noted Malcolm. "We make approximately 10 products, ranging from basic to highway mixes. We also produce specialty items such as stained concrete; a pea gravel mix that's used around pools; and custom orders for residential, commercial, governmental and other customers."
Meeting Their Own Aggregate Needs
At first, GCH Concrete sourced the materials needed to make its concrete mixes from area quarries. Recently, the company began to self-supply from a quarry it acquired. Nearly all of the sand and aggregate that GCH mines is used for its own purposes, but the company does sell some overburden as select fill to outside contractors.
"Once again, we were in the right place at the right time," acknowledged Cade. "An acquaintance from our oil and gas days had some property for sale that had the material we needed but were having a hard time getting. We bought it, and that's proven to be a great move."
"Having a dedicated supply is a real advantage because it ensures that we always have the materials needed to make concrete," added Malcolm. "In the past, the quarries we bought from limited the amounts we could purchase, and there were times when it was difficult to keep enough sand and gravel on hand. Now, we have roughly 10 trucks running from the quarry to the plant."
In total, GCH Concrete employs 28 people, some of whom worked for the Petty's pipeline business. Key individuals include Plant Manager Blake Henderson, Batch Manager Gino Perez Jr. and longtime Operator J.P. Connor.
Choosing the Right Equipment
Operators at both the quarry and the plant run Komatsu equipment. GCH Concrete loads materials into bins at the plant with a WA320 wheel loader, and it uses WA380s at the quarry to move sand and aggregate as well as to load trucks. GCH digs overburden with a PC360LC-10 excavator, which loads it into an HM300 articulated dump truck. Pushing piles and smoothing out roads is done with a D65WX-17 dozer.
"We have a long history with Komatsu equipment that goes back to our early pipelining days," said Malcolm. "It often took us to remote locations, and we could always trust that our Komatsu machines would start and run all day. The durability is excellent, so when we needed equipment for the concrete plant and quarry, Komatsu was our first choice. We also appreciate that it's very fuel-efficient, and the operators like the comfort. We have another brand of loader at the quarry, but our operators don't like running it. They want the Komatsus. For new purchases, we don't consider anything else."
The Pettys bought their first Komatsu pieces from Kirby-Smith Machinery with the help of Territory Manager Ron Weaver. In addition to purchasing equipment, the company rents from Kirby-Smith as needed, working with Rental Sales Representative Jacky Miller.
"Kirby-Smith ensured that the machines were the right size for our operations, so we get maximum productivity," explained Cole. "When we need anything, they are right there to help and are a real pleasure to work with. We are especially impressed that they take care of the scheduled maintenance on the new machines through Komatsu CARE. They call and tell us a service is due and when they will be out to do it. It's peace-of-mind that our machines are taken care of. All we have to do is fuel, grease and run them."
Catching Their Breath
With the Pettys busy managing their flourishing business it leaves little time to think of future growth right now.
"We could expand quite a bit more, and some customers want us to, but we need time to assess and catch our breath," said Cade. "However, we're facing a situation where it's almost inevitable that we will have to grow to keep up with demand."
One certain thing for GCH Concrete's future is that it will remain a family-run business.
"It's a real pleasure to get up every day and work alongside family," said Malcolm. "Even though we each have our duties, it's a total team effort, and that's a big reason why we have had success and growth so fast. We're proud of what we've accomplished and continue to look forward to what's ahead."