People over Production
For Mike Whitaker, the president of Whitaker Construction, keeping his employees safe, happy and engaged comes before reaching production numbers. “It’s a really high point for us to see someone grow and evolve from simply going through the motions to where they’re taking pride in their work and really understanding what it means to be part of a team and what making a good quality product looks like. That’s everything to us,” says Whitaker.
Whitaker Construction, which operates three of its locations across Utah with other locations in Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and Oregon, has been growing and expanding into new types of projects since its founding in 1953. The third-generation company has broadened its horizons from strictly underground utility construction work to projects in sanitary sewer, natural gas, irrigation, industrial piping, utility tunnels, pump stations, earth work, aggregates, structural concrete and dewatering.
At the company’s Morgan, Utah site, the crew is busy making a road base for the Department of Transportation that will be used in a variety of heavy highway jobs across Utah. With this competitive and fast-paced market, the construction company needed equipment that could keep up. “Being a newcomer to this kind of work, and the incredibly competitive market, the equipment we are using has allowed us to compete with industry veterans and has produced the quality product we pride ourselves on,” says Whitaker.
When Whitaker construction began its search for new equipment, they tested several major competing brands against Astec. John Sather, Vice President of Aggregates for Whitaker Construction, says, “There’s no comparison. From the equipment to the service, from both Astec and Goodfellow, no other brand could beat it.”
The crew at the Morgan site uses a variety of equipment from the group of Astec companies including a CS3055 Pioneer® jaw crusher plant, a Kodiak® K400+ cone crusher, two 8x24 three-deck screens and a 150’ SuperStacker® telescoping conveyor. While producing material to meet the state specifications, the contractor runs a two-stage crushing process. The material is blasted from the quarry and brought to the crushing site where it is loaded into the portable CS3055 Pioneer® jaw plant. Once it is processed through the primary crusher, it will pass over the screen where the -3/8” material will be scalped out and stockpiled. The remaining rock will pass over a second screen. The through material, between 3/8” up to an inch and a half, will be stockpiled using the 150’ SuperStacker® conveyor. Oversized material from the screen will run in a closed circuit with the Kodiak® K400+ cone crusher and screen until it is properly sized and able to be stockpiled as a final product.
Although the Utah state specification is in high demand, Whitaker also has the flexibility to make other materials. Mark Hansen, Equipment Salesman with the Goodfellow Corporation, says, “When they get caught up with the state spec, they can easily change out their screen cloth to start making drain rock, class A chips and other materials.” In addition to the screens, the K400+ can also be reconfigured to match the operation’s material needs. Sather explained that simple changes can be made to the Kodiak® cone crusher, and the way its fed, to create different products for a variety of projects.
Along with the cone crusher’s versatility, Sather and Hansen both commented on the Kodiak® line’s ease-of-use and tramp iron relief system. Hansen says, “One thing that sets the cone apart is its tramp iron relief. If an uncrushable gets in there, the relief system allows it to pass and keeps on crushing.” However, above all the features that Astec equipment has to offer, the most valuable attribute to Whitaker Construction is its quality. Sather says it best, “I always tell people, if you’re doing this for a living, you want to go with Astec. If you’re doing this part time, go with whoever you want, but with this group you’ll have a quality product and you’ll save a lot of money over the years in production costs. You just have to think: do you want a disposable unit, or something that will last you forever?”
With quality equipment comes quality service. “Goodfellow and Astec have been incredible to work with. Nothing happens without a good relationship and those two have been exceptional. They’re our partners,” says Whitaker.
A QAULITY-FOCUSED FUTURE
Quality will always be a state-of-mind for Whitaker Construction. In the future, Whitaker explains that their main goal is to become known for their quality, not just of their product, but of their company as a whole. “Often times, companies are so focused on the product that they forget about the people. We don’t want to lose sight of our crew and its quality. We want to help our team with personal development and help their families grow and achieve their long-term goals as well,” says Whitaker.
As far as physical growth, the group plans to exceed the site’s current production rate of 250,000 tons a year as they become more familiar with the new equipment and refine their operating procedures. Whitaker Construction also plans to continue its expansion with aspirations to add a new system to its fleet every two years, according to Sather. Since the start of his career at Whitaker, Sather has watched and helped the company grow from one pit to four in just six short years.
The group is passionate about expanding its business to serve more people. “We get a chance to make a difference every single day. From the smooth roads, to having clean, healthy water delivered to your kitchen sink when you need, we get to help with the critical things and we look forward to serving our customers, communities and state,” explains Whitaker.