Eden Valders Stone Co. Strives for Increased Sustainability and Safety
Investing in the right equipment, improves efficiency in operations at Eden Valders Stone Co. of Eden, Wisconsin.
"There is a constant improvement we are striving for - better machines that will bring the cost down, energy efficiency," says Barry Gesell, President of Eden Valders Stone.
Eden Valders Stone sells full and thin veneer, landscape stone and cut architectural stone. It recently started selling crushed stone. The Eden division is more of a stock selling product and 10 percent custom cut, where Valders is more made-to-order material.
"We do a lot of commercial buildings and institutional buildings," Gesell says. "If we can keep it in stock, we get the work."
The Difference of a New Wheel Loader
The company performs drill and blast, picks it out with a loader, and then delivers different size loads. It ships about 20 loads of finished goods daily.
Eden Valders Stone recently purchased a Hyundai HL980 Wheel Loader from YES Equipment & Service in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. The company specializes in supplying and servicing new and used lift trucks, and material handling equipment. The company sells JCB and Hyundai construction equipment. The Hyundai wheel loader delivers great productivity and consumes less fuel than earlier models.
"With the efficiency down by the piles, this equipment has saved a lot of time and money," says Joe Blommel, General Manager at Eden Valders Stone, cut stone division.
The HL980's features include an onboard weighing system, a bucket design for better load retention, and a remote management system.
Jason Rohlfs, Vice President of Operations - Maintenance at Eden Stone states that Eden Valders was attracted to the Hyundai equipment due to its price and standard options, including a scale. The machine is 20 percent to 30 percent more fuel efficient than similar wheel loaders.
"It seems like a quality-built machine," Rohlfs says. "Crews are using it for 50 to 70 hauls per day."
Rohlfs reports it was less expensive to purchase than similar machines from other manufacturers.
"It's like driving a new car," says Tom Schuh, Corporate Quarry Supervisor of Valders Stone & Marble, about the company's new Hyundai. "You can load trucks quicker with the new Hyundai."
Schuh especially likes having the built-in scale, which was a big decision maker for Eden Valders Stone, Gesell says. In the past, if Schuh's guestimate came up short, he would have to go back to the pile to pick up more stone to top off the weight. Now he knows how much stone he has in the basket. "It saves time and money," Rohlfs says.
Schuh also enjoys the air conditioned cab and the power. "The visibility is real nice, and that means a lot," Schuh says. "You can see out of it real well."
Splitting the Stone
Once the stone is quarried, Eden Valders Stone has about seven hydraulic guillotines and thin veneer machines. The Splitstone Feather Wedge also is an interesting piece of equipment the company recently acquired. Crews rope saw the rock out of the wall. The pieces may reach 200 ton.
The crews drill small holes and insert the feather wedge. It will split a block within seconds. It is a slowly expanding product. It can split a 60-pound rock in half.
"It's less labor and we are getting larger blocks, without the blast fractures," Gesell says. "We can go for a 5-foot by 9-foot block every time. There still are seams, but now our yield is better. Our waste is less."
In the past, Schuh, who has been with the company for 28 years, had to manually break the stone apart with a hammer. It would take hours. Now, with the machine, it takes minutes.
"You don't have to do as much post-production work," Schuh says. "We can split to size, so they are easy to maneuver. Time is a big factor."
Meet the Players
Emil Gesell and his sons William and Robert started Eden Stone in 1950. Then William Jr. took the helm. Eden Stone purchased Valders Stone & Marble in 1992. The company is currently under the leadership of fourth-generation family members, William Jr.'s sons Barry and Brent, who assumed leadership in 2015. William remains on the board of directors and provides advice to his sons.
"We grew up here, and it's in our blood," says Gesell. "The timing was right and the opportunity was there."
"I've pretty much done every job there is to do around here, except loading dynamite," Gesell says. "I remember my grandfather walking around and disciplining people. Times have changed and the culture."
The company employs about 160 people, many with longevity with the company. Average tenure is 12.5 years. Safety is a high priority for the company. Valders has more than 1 million hours without a lost-time injury.
"Build people up and keep them happy and keep them safe," Gesell says. "We preach safety, environment and putting workers first."
Gesell attributes the company's success to hard work. He said his father developed a brand in the Chicago market. About 90 percent of Eden's business comes from repeat customers. It keeps materials in stock and delivers a quality product at a reasonable price, Gesell says.
"We aim to continue the legacy, grow the business more and have fun doing it," Gesell adds.
Technology Aids Sustainability
Eden Valders Stone uses drones to conduct year-end inventory reconciliation. It looks to technology to enhance efficiency. It uses an RFID chipped perpetual-inventory system to track pallets in shop and stone that has been shipped. It operates two water-filtration systems, recycles 100 percent of its water, and manufactures less-expensive products from its broken pieces. The company participates in the Wisconsin Green Tier program.
"We have made big investments in trying to save the environment and be a sustainable, efficient company," Gesell says. "We are trying to be a leader in the market."
About 80 percent of Eden Valders Stone's business comes from within a 500-mile radius of the company. It also works on the east coast and Long Island, Texas, Florida, California and Canada. The company looks to expand to other markets.
Eden Valders Stone operates nine quarries in Wisconsin, seven producing limestone and two sandstone. The quarries cover approximately 1,000 acres. Leaders continue to look for new quarries.
"We're in the fourth generation, and we want to make sure the fifth has stone to quarry," Gesell says. "You have to have a reserve and look out for the future."