From landscaping to stone quarrying
Evans Stoneworks was launched in 2000 as a division of Evans Landscaping, Inc., a wholesale and retail landscaping business which has been in operation in Cincinnati, OH, since 1975. The idea behind the new operation was that it would serve as a supply into the company’s own business, which is mainly comprised of landscape stone. For efficient production, the company relies on a range of equipment from Park Industries of St. Cloud, MN.
In total, Evans Stoneworks’ facility is comprised of approximately 260,000 square feet, including the fabrication facility, an outdoor storage area for raw materials and an outdoor area for finished goods. Additionally, the company has three locations in the Cincinnati area that are specific to wholesale, retail and sales, and each one measures around 50,000 square feet.
The fabrication facility houses a range of machinery from Park Industries, including a Thinstone TXS 5500 flat machine, a TSX 4500 thinstone corner machine and a Jaguar bridge saw, as well as two Hydrasplit stationary stone splitter machines - a 3-foot and a 5-foot. The shop is also equipped with a sorter from Nirox of Belfast, Ireland, and a tumbler from Right Manufacturing Systems, Inc. of Lindon, UT. The company also relies on bulldozers, front-wheel loaders, backhoes and forklifts for the quarries, the processing operation and the finished goods area, according to Matt Henderson, the company’s divisional manager.
“All equipment enables us to be more productive and efficient, and we can produce significantly more output per day now,” said Henderson. “[The equipment] makes work lighter, easier and safer for employees, gives us a wide and versatile product line and also enables us to be cost-competitive by meeting short lead times for deliveries. It also gives us a more unique product line and offers advantages to our customers who work with us.
“The learning curve is short to become familiar with the basics of how the equipment operates, but the learning curve is longer to produce consistent quality products in reasonable, expected time periods with minimal waste,” continued Henderson. “We are still learning how to be most proficient and expertly competent. Park has helped with initial training and ongoing, on-call assistance. We use multiple operators so that we have flexibility and versatility in our work force.”
At the processing facility, the company brings in around 200 tons of stone per day from four nearby quarries. According to the company, the stone is brought in and then put through a variety of operations, including staging, sorting, splitting, tumbling, sawing and palletizing. Processed stone, including building stone and landscaped stone, totals an average of 150 tons of output per day.
The company’s target markets include architects, builders and dealers, and products include building and landscape stone such as flat and cornered natural adhered veneer, wall stone, pavers, stepping stone, cobblestones and patio stone. “We have over 100 different items in our product line,” Henderson said. “We offer a complete line with many interesting popular and desirable colors, looks, textures and heights. We also carry some stone products which are purchased from other suppliers as finished products.”
Evans Stoneworks currently employs around 40 workers. The company runs one full 10-hour shift with 25 employees, as well as a partial second 10-hour shift with 10 employees. Another five employees work in the quarries, while the sales and administrative staff consists of another six people. According to Henderson, drivers from the sister company, Evans Transport, are used to make local deliveries. “We cross train as much as possible,” he said. “About 75% of our employees can do any aspect of the entire processing work, starting from raw material intake, through sorting/feeding to splitting/cutting/tumbling to palletizing to loading.”
Over the past few years, the company has learned that there are many challenges that come with being a stone producer in today’s market, including getting quality material from quarries, improving employee productivity, lowering overall labor costs, improving inventory cost controls and turns, eliminating waste, reducing operating costs and shipping costs, as well as employee retention and safety. “We address these challenges by putting priorities on the ones that have the greatest potential to either de-stabilize our business model and/or inhibit our plans or profitable growth,” Henderson explained. “We put in place plans of action to resolve issues, assign responsibility to a person, allocate the necessary resources, move forward with our action plans, adjust our actions as necessary and measure our results.”
Overall, the business has grown more than 50% a year for each year that it has been in operation.