Crushing, screening spread invigorates historic producer

By |  November 13, 2017

Photos courtesy of Godbey Red-E-Mix, Elrus Aggregate Systems

The Godbey Red-E-Mix Concrete legacy can be traced back to a simple hand mixer, wheelbarrow and hose.

It was 1945 when Vaughn B. Godbey returned home from World War II, determined to master the art of concrete batching. Born in Nebraska during the Great Depression, Godbey had never seen anything like the German Autobahn, and he was mesmerized by the efficiency and durability of the concrete super highway.

“He said, ‘If I ever get out, I’m going to learn the concrete business,’” says Jinx Godbey Freels, Vaughn’s daughter who is now a shareholder for the company. “After the war ended, he got a wheelbarrow, a hand mixer and a hose, and started batching concrete for little jobs around town.”

Three years later, the great Methow River flood in Washington state washed out all of the bridges crossing the Methow. Godbey won the contract to pour the rebuilding of the bridges, and a year later he decided to sell everything he owned to buy his first batch plant.

“He sold everything but Mom and the baby and moved back in with her parents,” Jinx says. “With $1,500 in his pocket, he went to the Army surplus store, bought hoppers and conveyors and put together what he thought was a portable batch plant.”

With the help of his wife Wanda, who managed the operation’s finances and orders, Godbey began building a reputation with the Army Corps of Engineers, helping with nearly every major dam project on the Columbia River – including the Grand Coulee Dam, Chief Joseph Dam, Wells Dam, Rocky Reach Dam, Wanapum Dam and Priest Rapids Dam.

“My parents weren’t an overnight success,” Jinx says. “But each time my dad tackled a new project, he would sell his batch plant and get a different idea of what would work better.”

Seventy-two years later, the family business is still going strong, and it has expanded to include four locations. Eight family members – including members of the third generation – now work for the company in various roles, from management to accounting to operations.

Just like Vaughn, the family is always looking for the next best thing to improve the business, which is why it recently invested in a new portable crushing and screening spread from Elrus. The spread has allowed Godbey Red-E-Mix to eliminate the costly custom crushing from its operation and move rapidly from pit to pit.

By crushing its own in-spec product quickly and efficiently, the company is saving an estimated $100,000 annually. Godbey Red-E-Mix has tripled its production with less equipment to maintain.

 Check out a drone fly-by video of the Godbey plant.

New pit, new plant

Godbey Red-E-Mix Concrete is based in Brewster, Washington, and operates out of three sand-and-gravel pits and one shot rock quarry. The company annually produces 350,000 tons of 1 1/4 in. and 5/8 in. asphalt, concrete and base construction material.

Until recently, the company operated two quarries and produced some of its own aggregate using an old jaw, a pair of cone crushers, a screen and a triple set of roller crushers. But the crushing plant was old, unreliable and difficult to move, forcing the company to rely heavily on expensive contracted crushing to supply the bulk of their material.

However, the recent acquisition of a fourth quarry – combined with projections showing increased production demands brought about by a recovering economy and increasing industry demand in new road construction, maintenance and revitalization projects – meant the purchase of a portable spread that could do all of the work was now more practical.

Photo courtesy of Godbey Red-E-Mix, Elrus Aggregate Systems

Godbey Red-E-Mix’s origins trace back to Vaughn B. Godbey, pictured here in June 1945 around the end of World War II. After the war ended, Godbey got a wheelbarrow, a hand mixer and a hose, and started batching concrete for small jobs.

“In just two years, we went from owning two to four pits, which justified the purchase of a new crusher,” says David Freels, manager of Godbey Red-E-Mix Concrete and husband to Jinx. “It was something we needed to invest in, even though crushers are costly and we’re a small company. We lost so much time moving the old plant – basically, an entire summer – that we stopped moving it entirely. It was just too much money and time lost.”

Freels was well-acquainted with Kevin Bohanon, technical lead salesman for Elrus Aggregate Systems, and trusted him to find a solution that would answer his need for mobility, productivity and versatility. Elrus is an international supplier of aggregate equipment and partners with manufacturers like Sandvik and McLanahan.

“We’ve known Kevin for about 10 years, and he is a top-notch guy,” Freels says. “He’s the only sales guy who has ever climbed up on a piece of equipment with me and knew what he was talking about. When he suggested this portable plant, I trusted him that it would work.”

“He was right,” Freels adds. “With the new plant, we can tear down in one day, move and set up in one day. It’s highly portable and can work in the quarry locations processing shot rock, and then move to the pit and process sand and gravel without skipping a beat. We’re really happy with what the equipment can do.”

Flexibility and versatility

The process of crushing and screening starts with an Elrus 48-in. x 20-ft. vibrating grizzly feeder feeding a 3248 Sandvik CJ412 jaw crusher. From there, the material is screened onto a high-capacity, multi-slope 6-ft. x 12-ft. three-deck MS612 screen plant, where the natural material is pulled off.

The rock is then carried forward to the Sandvik CH550 cone crusher, a 450-hp crusher with automated cone control and hydraulic adjust. The material is closed-circuited to a second Elrus MS612 three-deck screening plant, then finished in a 30-cu.-yd. portable load-out bin. The entire plant is powered by a Cat generator, which, with only one generator for the entire plant, requires less maintenance compared to individually powered track-mounted models.

The new plant’s portability gives Freels the flexibility he needs to crush whenever he needs new material, and not be forced to wait for another contractor.

“With our old plant, it took us forever to tear it down and set it up – and I mean forever,” Freels says. “It took us three weeks to tear it all down, and another three weeks to set it back up. Now, teardown and setup is three to four days. That’s a huge difference.”

Freels estimates he saves several thousand dollars in production and labor each time he transports the equipment. With moves every month and a half to two months, that’s easily a savings of more than $20,000, he says. When you factor in the cost of custom crushing – which can range from $25,000 to $40,000 each time – Freels estimates the company will save a minimum of $100,000 in time and material by the end of the year.

The new equipment also tripled production – Freels estimates he’s getting 350 tph of 1 1/2 in. and 300 tph of 5/8 in. of round rock, and even more for shot rock.

“The equipment is actually performing better than what Kevin promised,” Freels says. “I can’t say enough about the equipment and experience. When we bought the new plant, they sent two guys down who stayed an entire week with us and trained everyone. The first time we tore it down to move, they sent two more guys down who stayed with us for a week. They’ve proven themselves to be extremely knowledgeable and easy to work with for service and parts.”

Photo courtesy of Godbey Red-E-Mix, Elrus Aggregate Systems

The new plant is powered by a Cat generator that leads to less plant maintenance, according to Godbey Red-E-Mix.

Tower operator Matt Bakken also appreciates the ease of maintenance on the plant – particularly the way the feed conveyor on the Elrus cone plants slides out of the way, providing full access to the crusher for maintenance and liner changes. Additionally, with Sandvik’s new CH550 cone crusher, there is no backing to mix up to pour behind the manganese liners and no wait time for backing to cure, he says.

“As soon as we reassemble the crusher, which does not take long, we are back to crushing and making material,” Bakken says.

Bakken says the Elrus MS612 screens have been a time and money saver for the operation, as well. He’s noticed the Elrus MS612 screen performs better because of its linear movement, and keeps its wire screens clean in the wet material they encounter during the spring.

“We can change wire screens in a quarter of the time compared to our conventional horizontal screen, and the wire media Elrus is providing gives us more life, which saves us money,” Bakken says. “I also like that the MS612 has no v-belt drive to maintain or guarding for the drive per MSHA (Mine Safety & Health Administration) requirements. All we need are a couple of pumps of grease a year – it’s better for the environment, and you don’t have to worry about disposing of oil.”

Building for future generations

With the newest addition to the family’s fourth generation having just arrived – a baby boy aptly named for his great-grandpa, Vaughn – the Godbey family business is poised to carry on the family legacy of helping build eastern Washington for generations to come.

“The new plant has been a godsend,” Freels says. “It’s such a relief to know we can count on producing almost all the time, and have the flexibility to produce whenever we need material. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely buy another Elrus plant because of the ease of setup and the productivity gained. The plant has done everything that Elrus said it would do, and more.”

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