“They’re so much more efficient. You run 60 gallons a day versus 100 gallons a day. You don’t need a third-grade education to figure that out.” -Bill Ramsey
Larry Anderson is what you could call a connoisseur of sand.
He’s spent 40 years in the sand business,blasting it out of the ground, refining it and shipping it all over the country. People who know him say he can determine its quality just by holding it between his fingers and listening to the sound of the grains as they rub against each other.
And quality is what matters at Monteagle Sand LLC, which Anderson manages just outside of Chattanooga in East Tennessee. Piles of sand emerge from a processor there — for ready-mix concrete plants, for asphalt plants and for sewage treatment plants. Monteagle even custom manufactures sand for golf course greens,fully approved and inspected by the USGA.
“I’ve done this all my life. I can make you any type of sand you want,” Anderson said on a sweltering July day, standing in the shadow of a Volvo A40D articulated hauler, fresh in with a load of shot rock from Monteagle’s sand pit.
That 40-ton truck is a symbol of the company’s efficiency and reliability. It’s what you should expect to get if you’re one of the company’s customers. Dayor night, this small sand operation is ready to serve. The company pledges to provide sand to highway contractors and its other customers at any time and any place, says Bill Ramsey, its owner.
There are a couple of rules of thumb. First, the sand is going to be quality. Second, it’s going to come quickly.
“At no quarry in the country will you get loaded out any faster than at ours,”Ramsey boasts. “We put the trucks out.They don’t have to wait to get loaded.”
And so there’s the Volvo. The VolvoA40D spends its days moving huge rocks and sand into Monteagle’s sand processor, where it’s crushed, screened and washed into stuff you could build sand castles out of — or skyscrapers.The raw material is blasted out of a 35-foot deep sand pit and then dug out with a monstrous Volvo L350F wheel loader— “The war horse, that’s what I like to call it,” Anderson says. That loader spends its days moving enormous rocks and sand,gathering them up like so many pebbles.Meanwhile, a Volvo L220F loader — boasting its turbocharged Volvo V-ACT D12D engine— zips around the sand yard, loading trucks that pull into the facility, which are headed to any number of places in the surrounding states. And while all that’s going on, anEC210LR excavator works days cleaning out the settling ponds on the property.“This Volvo equipment keeps me running,” Anderson says.
In many ways, it’s no wonder Monteagle Sand turned to Volvo five years ago when it was looking to upgrade its fleet of equipment. The company was born out of hard work by men who know almost nothing else.
Behind it all is Ramsey, who grew up a farm boy near Jamestown,Tenn., the youngest of five siblings. Wanting something better for his children, Ramsey’s father made it a point to ensure young Bill got his education. So Bill dutifully sought out a degree in medical technology.But his career in the medical arts businesses, launched in 1965,was short-lived. Within a year, he was pining for the work he grew up doing as a boy — “It probably was just inside my blood,” he says.
So he borrowed money against his car, pretty much the only thing he owned, and bought an old dump truck. All the while, he hoped his young wife would understand. “She thought I had lost my ever-loving mind,” he says.
But the small business venture proved a success. After three years of driving that old dump truck, Ramsey got it paid off. So he sold it and bought another. The company grew by leaps and bounds and provided Ramsey the foundation for other entrepreneurial ventures. Over the years, he’s owned ready-mix plants and a rock quarry. And the trucking business has stood the test of time. Five years ago, Ramsey had 55 trucks running around East Tennessee.
Today, Ramsey’s Monteagle Sand is churning out product just down the road from where he operates a barge terminal beside the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. The companies are a family affair. Ramsey’s operations manager is his son-in-law, Patrick Kushman. Standing by the river, his shock of white hair visible from across his barge terminal, Ramsey can remember the45 years it’s been since his days in the medical industry.
“That’s a long stretch to being in the rock quarry business,” he jokes.
But it’s all about hard work. Ramsey and his employees know all about that. And they require tough, reliable equipment to get them through. Anything less is sent packing. More than one machine has left the yard that way.“He is (particular),” says Bill Bryant, who operates a VolvoL220E at Ramsey’s barge terminal. “He’s knowledgeable, and he runs the equipment, too. Anything we can do, he can do.”The barge terminal is all about efficiency. The yard spends days receiving calcine — a by-product of the copper smelting business — that comes from a nearby copper facility in the Tennessee hills. More than 170 trucks per day bring in loads of the powdery material, which eventually is moved onto river barges that take it downstream to cargo ships. It’s bound for China.
The company’s Volvo L220E does the loading. In eight hours, it can move 4,000tons of calcine — two barges per day. “It’s hard work. It’s no easy task,” Ramsey says.
Calcine is such a light material that it kick up a lot of dust, even though crews attempt to keep the piles of the material watered down. Ramsey’s operators change the filters in the equipment at regular intervals. “It’s run day in and day out, and it’s not given usa minute’s worth of trouble,” Ramsey says. But it’s the fuel efficiency of these Volvo wheel loaders that has Ramsey hooked. “That’s the best part about them as far as I’m concerned,” he says. He replaced an older model Michigan 270 with his new Volvo L220E. It didn’t take long to notice the difference. “They’re so much more efficient. You run 60 gallons a day versus 100 gallons a day. You don’t need a third-grade education to figure that out,” he says. In these times, that’s a savings of $100 a day, $2,000 a month and $24,000 a year. “It’s real money,” Ramsey says. Ramsey bought his Volvo equipment from ASC Construction Equipment in Chattanooga. He says the service he’s received from ASC has been a far cry from the dealers of other heavy equipment.“(ASC’s) Dave Parker has been a very good salesman. He’s been very prompt.”
Saving gallons, saving dollars
The story is no different 45 miles away at Monteagle Sand, where Ramsey’s Volvo L350F loader moves sand faster and less expensively than its predecessor machine, a Caterpillar 988. On this day,it was wheeling rock that recently had been blasted out of the strip mine into the company’s Volvo A40D hauler.
The machine never stops moving, constantly freeing loads of rock and sand from the pit and then delivering them bucket by bucket into the hauler. It used to be that the company would move 40 to 42 loads out of the quarry each day, sending them up to the company’s processing plant. With Volvo,the cycle times have improved dramatically.The Volvo L350F — with its powerful 528hp, D16E engine — can load 60 trucks ina day. “It’s night and day difference,” says Anderson, the sand plant manager.
The same story can be told about fuel consumption — 50 to 60 gallons per day rather than more than 100 on the old Caterpillar. That’s thanks to Volvo’s high flow,low-rpm load-sensing hydraulics and all-Volvo powertrain, among other highly efficient systems. It provides just the right amount of flow and pressure when it’s needed, saving precious fuel.
And the operators rave about the 360-degree unobstructed visibility and ease of use in the machine. They easily can reach all the grease points before they start up each morning, and the equipment is easy to handle all day in Volvo’s Care Cab.
“It’s been very, very dependable,”Anderson says. “I’ve got no complaints.I’d recommend it to anybody.”