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How a longtime relationship served General Materials for the better

By |  September 17, 2019
General Materials recently added two new turnkey plants that allow it to produce a wider variety of materials. Photo courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screen.

General Materials recently added two new turnkey plants that allow it to produce a wider variety of materials. Photo courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screens.

The crew at General Materials works nearly around the clock to produce a variety of products for its customers, and a unique new venture provides an advantage to set them apart.

The history of General Materials dates back to 1948, with the founding of Haskell Lemon, the group’s sister company. Over the last few decades, Haskell Lemon grew from a small paving company into a large, diversified contracting company.

In 1975, to complement the expansion of Haskell Lemon, the group established General Materials to expand its resources into the sand processing industry. Jay Lemon and Ken Wert, partners at General Materials and Haskell Lemon, took a chance on an unrealized opportunity within General Materials’ operation that allowed them to expand into the frac sand business.

With stable market conditions and an increased need for the product, it was an opportune time for General Materials to expand its capabilities. Being so familiar with Kolberg-Pioneer and its sister companies through a long-standing relationship, the group didn’t turn anywhere else when it needed new equipment.

Nothing wasted

During General Materials’ initial introduction to the sand processing industry in the 1970s, the company built its first plant to make concrete, asphalt and fill sands.

Recently, the group added two new turnkey plants to produce a wider variety of materials. One of the new systems is fed processed material from the company’s existing wash plant, which was erected more than 20 years ago. The product is fed into a new Kolberg-Pioneer model 1830 screening and washing plant, which has a 6-ft. x 20-ft. screen that separates the material. The material is either stockpiled as tailings or sent to a set of dewatering cyclones and into a density classifier.

The fine material from the density classifier is sent to a Kolberg-Pioneer series 9200 fines recovery system, where it is pumped through another dewatering cyclone and discharged onto a dewatering screen before being stockpiled as frac sand. The coarse material from the density classifier goes to a fine material washer and is stockpiled as an additional saleable product.

The market’s stability coupled with a higher demand for materials produced ideal conditions for General Materials to expand its processing capabilities. Photo courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screens.

The market’s stability coupled with a higher demand for materials produced ideal conditions for General Materials to expand its processing capabilities. Photo courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screens.

The second Kolberg-Pioneer system is fed using General Materials’ on-site dredge.

Since the beginning of the group’s sand processing endeavor, it has been putting unsaleable material back into a lake. After General Materials realized the potential of the built-up product, it needed the equipment to process it.

Once the material is dredged up, it is sent to a series 1830 screening and washing plant with a 6-ft. x 20-ft. screen. From the screen, oversized material is stockpiled as a discarded product, while the smaller material is pumped to a Kolberg-Pioneer series 9000 sand plant with three classifying cyclones. After processing through the cyclones, the material goes through a 9200 fines recovery plant with another classifying cyclone and across a dewatering screen to be placed in a stockpile, dried and sold.

The group’s unique setup and resourcefulness allowed it to fully utilize all of their resources and materials to make an additional saleable product from what was once thought to be waste.

“Our system that is hooked up to our dredge, which includes the 1830 screening plant, 9000 sand plant and 9200 fines recovery plant, is re-mining a wash back area that has been a waste product for us,” says Jack Lemon, project manager at General Materials who is Jay’s son. “Since the mid-‘70s, we’ve been putting our unsaleable material back into the lake, and now we have the ability to go out there, dredge it, re-wash it, re-size it and put it through the plant to make a saleable product.”

Bringing it together

After realizing the potential of their material, the operation needed the necessary equipment and an engineering team that would stand behind it and the vision.

“Our sand business, historically, has been wash classifiers and sand classifiers that have been feeding the construction market materials with concrete sands, wash fill sands and other mason-type products,” Jay says. “These two new plants are bringing on additional pieces and technology, and it’s been great learning about the new-to-us processing that Kolberg-Pioneer brought to the table.

The experience has been a positive one for Jack, as well.

“The most useful features to our operation are the user-friendly controls that allow us to easily adjust the gradations of the finished product,” Jack says. “You can adjust anything you want with three clicks on the touchscreen. Most importantly is the group of people we have gotten to know and work with [and] how helpful they’ve been on everything from plant setup to operation and now service.”

General Materials created two additional saleable products for itself by utilizing unconventional resources and techniques. Photo courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screens.

General Materials created two additional saleable products for itself by utilizing unconventional resources and techniques. Photo courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screens.

Of course, easy access to parts and service are essential components to any successful operation.

“Parts and service are arguably the most important factor,” Jack says. “Without parts and service, we don’t run and without running, nothing else happens. We are always able to get our parts quickly.”

The group’s local dealer, Van Keppel, has provided it with parts and service for more than 20 years.

“The team at Kolberg-Pioneer was also incredibly helpful [with] any sort of issue we had with setup,” Jack says. “With just a phone call or video chat we had our issues resolved.”

American-made equipment and support is also important to General Materials.

“It gives us great pride, as an Oklahoma-based company to use American equipment every chance we get,” Jay says. “The guys that helped design it got it shipped to us, helped us with the setup and they went online and started performing quicker than new plants we have erected in the past.

“Our plant was a unique design, something we weren’t very familiar with, but Kolberg-Pioneer took a custom need and designed something they don’t have on their shelf, got it down here and we were able to start with the push of a few buttons,” he adds.

Being a multi-generational company, the group is very familiar with Kolberg-Pioneer.

“Our company has had KPI equipment longer than I have been employed here,” Jay says. “It’s those relationships that give us the reliability we need, as well as the expertise from their engineering, and new products that help us create new materials for our expanding market.”

A thriving future

Ken, Jay, Jack and the whole crew at General Materials have conquered a new market by utilizing unconventional resources and techniques to create two additional saleable products.

“We are working toward more than doubling our annual volume,” Jay says. “We love new opportunities and challenges and we are constantly seeking out what we can do with the resources we already have to serve new markets. We expect to get very comfortable with our new equipment and will continue to look for new ways we can use these tools and the raw materials we have to serve anyone else we can reach. It’s always fun to find a new opportunity and work with people like those at Kolberg-Pioneer to turn those ideas into reality.”


Information for this article courtesy of KPI-JCI & Astec Mobile Screens.


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