Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.


How a Philadelphia-area quarry balances production’s demand with the neighbors

By |  March 9, 2020
The Gill Quarries operation is located in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. Photo: Doosan

The Gill Quarries operation is located in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. Photo: Doosan

Of the various work that unfolds at Gill Quarries – from the drilling and blasting to the loading and processing – one task stays top of mind for co-owner Ray Trainor: being a good neighbor.

Surrounded by residential streets northwest of Philadelphia, Gill Quarries mines for argillite six days a week while producing rock and cut stone products, recycled concrete and more. But the machines always shut off at 4 p.m., and the crews never go out on Sundays.

“Our quarry is in a residential area,” Trainor says. “We have to be very mindful of the people around us.”

Easier said than done. Keeping up with demand is the quarry’s biggest challenge, which means Gill Quarries has to make the most of daylight hours – and that requires top-notch productivity made possible by the right mix of equipment.

New tools for new jobs

Ray Trainor is a co-owner of Gill Quarries. Photo: Doosan

Ray Trainor is a co-owner of Gill Quarries. Photo: Doosan

Trainor wasn’t always in the quarry business. He started the construction firm Ratoskey & Trainor with partner Rob Ratoskey in 1992, specializing in demolition and excavating. Later, the partners bought a concrete recycling machine which, with the purchase of a crusher, led to the development of a business selling recycled concrete on top of all the digging and razing.

When a quarry in nearby East Norriton, Pennsylvania, went up for sale in 2016, the move into mining made sense.

“Keep on building and growing,” Trainor says.

That growth required a fleet of mine-ready equipment, which Ratoskey & Trainor acquired piece by piece from Best Line Equipment – its local Doosan dealer. Sixteen machine purchases later, the partners now oversee a collection of Doosan machines that includes several wheel loaders, mini and crawler excavators and articulated dump trucks.

Excavators at every step

Mining for argillite, the sedimentary rock often used to build highways, requires multiple heavy machines.

It all begins with a blast every two weeks to break up the stone. Then, at the bottom of the quarry, DX350LC-5 excavators with hydraulic breakers take apart any chunks larger than 30 in. Wheel loaders load the material in two DA30 trucks, which haul the stone topside.

Once above the quarry, the stone goes into the crusher by way of a DX225LC-3 excavator. The crew has excavators bigger and smaller – the DX300LC-3 and DX180LC-3, specifically – but the mid-sized machine is just right, according to Trainor.

“If we use the giant machine, you’d put one giant scoop in it and then you’d be sitting there for 10 minutes until the crusher did its business,” Trainor says. “The 225 is the exact size for the reach and to handle what the bucket can hold. It’s always in a swinging-loading operation.”

The DX225LC-3 excavator pops up elsewhere, too. When the crusher isn’t running, crews swap the bucket for a breaker and let it hammer away on materials.

Once crushed, the stone is screened into sizes approved for road construction by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. One size of material goes under concrete, and another ends up in highways. An extremely fine grade is sold for use in underground utility projects.

Saving fuel, reusing materials

Gill Quarries utilizes a variety of equipment from Doosan in its mobile equipment fleet, including a DX350LC-5 excavator and DA30 articulated dump truck. Photo: Doosan

Gill Quarries utilizes a variety of equipment from Doosan in its mobile equipment fleet, including a DX350LC-5 excavator and DA30 articulated dump truck. Photo: Doosan

To maximize savings, the heavy equipment runs largely in eco-mode – even the trucks hauling tons of material. Outside of operations that require power mode like hammering, Trainor says he’d just as soon reap the savings.

“There’s a definite, noticeable fuel savings in eco with loading the crushers every day,” he says. “You’re loading, and it’s all loose material so you don’t really need all that power. To be able to turn it off and save fuel is just an added bonus.”

While it’s saving fuel, the company also saves concrete from sanitary landfills. Gill Quarries’ recycling business has grown exponentially in recent years, a trend Trainor expects to continue.

“Our quarry might have 800,000 to a million tons of reserve, so eventually recycling will be a lot larger part of the day-to-day operation of the quarry,” Trainor says. “And the recycled material is all at a cheaper price than the virgin quarry material.”

In the early days, Ratoskey & Trainor would sell around 100 tons of recycled materials a week. Now it’s up to 1,000 a week. The recycled material can be used for the very same applications as the virgin material.

“It’s really catching on,” Trainor says. “And you know, eventually all we will sell as an aggregate is recycled material.”

Ready for what’s next

As partners, Trainor and Ratoskey have always remained open to change. In the beginning, their construction business focused on residential work: tearing down houses, digging basements, storm and septic work – whatever needed to be done.

Between the quarry expansion and the growing recycling business, Trainor and Ratoskey remain ready for what’s next. The two now employ around 40 people between the two businesses, taking crews around Pennsylvania and beyond.

“Last year we did a nice job in Delaware,” Trainor says. “Wherever our customer base sends us, if we can go and help, we do.”


Josh Hafner is strategic communication supervisor at Two Rivers Marketing. Information for this article courtesy of Doosan Infracore North America.


Comments are closed