Salado Quarry was founded in 1999 by Tommy Edwards, a successful veteran in the oil industry who began brokering stone. “Tom Wood, the owner/operator of C&T Stone, was a mentor to me in this business,” Edwards said. “When I was brokering stone, I was buying from him, and then I started Salado Quarry at a ranch near his place.”
By merging with C&T Stone, Edwards explained that the new venture has the benefit of combined resources, and it has doubled overall production. The quarries generally operate year round, except in the case of severe weather - a rarity in Central Texas.
Stone is extracted from the “Georgetown Formation” of limestone, which is located about an hour north of Austin, TX. Edwards explained that the material outcrops at or near the surface. It is formed in ledges that are generally 2 feet in thickness, and the company is currently working 14 levels of ledges within the quarry sites. Three different varieties of limestone are available - Hill Country White, Palamino Gold and Salado Cream.
The material is relatively easy to extract, and no blasting is required. During the quarrying process, a large Vermeer track saw is used to saw out blocks at the surface above, similar to “cutting brownies in a pan,” Edwards explained. Caterpillar front end loaders then extract the stone blocks by breaking them out at the natural sediment layer between the 2-foot-thick blocks.
After the blocks are extracted, they are cut to size using one of six Cobra “S” block saws from Park Industries. These saws feature a 64-inch blade diameter and offer a sawing depth of up to 26 inches. The Cobra has a 75-horsepower motor, and it can process blocks up to 10 feet in length if needed.
Once the blocks are processed into slabs, they move onto the Park Hydrasplit splitters from Park Industries. The resulting pieces are typically 4 inches thick in a variety of lengths and widths. Stone pieces are stacked and wrapped on palettes as needed. Finished pieces are also sorted into bins by size, allowing customers to simply come to the company’s facilities and pick up orders as needed.
When installed, the stone pieces can be stacked like bricks, and in addition to offering a range of colors, Edwards explained that the aesthetics of an application can vary based on the mortar style and thickness. Sawed material can also be used for architectural applications such as quoins and retaining walls, and the company also offers stone paving.
Thin veneer is another product offered by RLF Salado Quarries. These products are 1 ¼ inch in thickness, and they are processed on the TXS Thin Stone system from Park Industries. The unit features two blades, and it can process stone pieces up to 12 inches high, 18 to 24 inches long and up to 12 inches thick. Blocks are loaded onto the conveyor, and the two blades simultaneously cut off the ends. These end pieces are 1 ¼ inch thick, with one textured surface and one flat (sawn) surface. According to Edwards, they are competitive with cultured stone products in terms of price as well as ease of installation.
Recently, RLF Salado Quarries also acquired a crushing operation for producing aggregate from the waste material.
In all, RLF Salado Quarries has 60 employees, many of which have solid experience in the trade. “Most workers have been with us since the beginning,” Edwards said, adding that since there are several quarries in the region, there is a knowledge and history of stoneworking in the area.
RLF Salado Quarries has a broad range of clients, including dealers, retailers, distributors, stone yards, custom builders and homeowners. It has supplied a number of projects in the Austin area and throughout Central Texas. Additionally, Edwards said the company’s products have been shipped to a variety of locations in the Western U.S., including California, Arizona and Nevada.
With an eye on the future, the company is currently in the process of adding quarries for Lueders limestone, also located in Texas, as well as a variety of sandstone.