Rogers Group Grows its Business in Arkansas With Dedicated Employees, an Experienced Dealer and Solid Iron on the Ground.
By Mark S. Kuhar
More than 100 years ago, Ralph Rogers set in motion what would become one of the Midwest’s largest aggregate and construction-materials operations, with locations across five states. Among those states is Arkansas, where the Rogers Group set up shop about 15 years ago and has grown its business bigger than a backwoods Razorback.
“The core of Rogers Group is aggregate production,” stated Tim Gorman, vice president-SMA manager, who is based at the company’s Arkansas headquarters in Conway. Rogers Group has nine quarry locations throughout Arkansas, mainly in central and northwest sections of the state. Locations include Cabot, Cleveland, Conway, Greenbrier, Lowell and Springdale. Each quarry produces a variety of materials, from half-inch chips to riprap.
It also has a portable crushing operation that travels among five Rogers Group locations, making two to six products at a time, depending on local market demands. At each quarry, customers can pick up materials or Rogers Group will arrange for delivery.
“Our customer base runs from traditional construction companies looking for sub-base, to gas-well construction crews to county and state highway maintenance departments,” explained Gorman. “We’ll work with customers to make products that meet their specifications and timetables. We also have our own testing labs and we test on a couple of standards: how many tons are produced and how many tons are loaded out. That ensures our products are within specs and meet our quality criteria, about which Rogers Group is very stringent.”
Making aggregate products in Arkansas not only takes dedicated employees, but solid equipment that can stand up to the challenge of mining raw sandstone. As in other states, Rogers Group’s Arkansas operations rely heavily on Komatsu machinery to meet the task.
“Our buying process is part of a capital plan that looks at equipment purchases from a neutral standpoint, meaning brand is not considered. We then look at several factors such as price, dependability, production, fuel efficiency, dealer service and input from operators,” said Rogers Group Equipment Operations Manager Cameron Druyor. “We tend not to take anecdotal information into account. We want facts from our operators about why they want a particular piece of equipment, and time and again they’ve steered us toward Komatsu.”
Several Rogers Group Arkansas locations use not only Komatsu loaders, but rigid-frame haul trucks as well, primarily 40-ton HD325s and 60-ton HD465s.
The company works with H&E Equipment Services for purchases and service. H&E Sales Reps Scott Prior and Eric Hale, Product Support Representative Ron Waymack, Springdale Branch Manager Henri Guertin and Little Rock Branch Manager Charles Sooby play an integral part in their equipment processes.
“Like the wheel loaders, we get good production out of the Komatsu haul trucks,” noted Druyor.
“They’re easy to operate and they have the power to climb hills loaded, which is important because many of our quarries have steep climbs from the pit to the crusher.”
Druyor is located at the company’s headquarters in Nashville, but tracks Komatsu equipment in Arkansas using an equipment monitoring program called Komtrax. “Komtrax has a couple of advantages,” he said. “One is that if there’s an issue, it alerts us almost instantaneously via email so we can address it immediately. That can stop a small issue from becoming potentially catastrophic. The second is I can track hours and usage to set maintenance schedules and ensure routine services are done on or ahead of time. It’s a great tool.”
Rogers Group has on-site service personnel at many locations, but some rely exclusively on the dealer to meet their needs. “We call H&E’s Little Rock branch for everything, including work on competitive machines,” said Cabot Quarry Superintendent Jim Poston. “They get our services done on time, and if there’s anything else we need, I know I can call and they’ll be here promptly. Usually, within an hour.”
More than a Materials Supplier
Rogers Group has evolved to become more than a materials supplier, with a construction division that does asphalt-paving projects such as heavy highway, municipal overlays, large-scale residential subdivision roadways and commercial. Gorman estimates the company’s Arkansas Construction Division does about 70 percent of its work as a general contractor and the rest as a sub.
“One hundred percent of the projects we do on the paving side are supplied by the three asphalt plants we have in Arkansas,” noted Gorman. Locations include Cabot, Conway and Greenbrier. “We also have access to Rogers Group’s portable asphalt plants. For the most part, when we do a job we’re handling the paving, which includes the rock base and asphalt. We do some minor earthwork, but we sub out projects that require bulk excavation.”
Notable projects include widening Highways 5 and 65 from two to four lanes and completion of two sections of Highway 140 in Faulkner County. The three projects totaled more than 100 miles of paving and exceeded a million tons of asphalt laid down.
Rogers Group’s Arkansas operations have about 150 employees, including key individuals such as Area Production Manager Mark “Woody” Page and Superintendents Jim Poston, Dwayne Gabbard, Justin Dees and Sam Shannon.
On the Lookout for Growth
Rogers Group has continued to expand from its early days in 1908. Gorman doesn’t see that changing as the company works into its second century.
“We’re the largest, privately owned, crushed-stone producer in the nation because Rogers Group continually looks for new avenues and opportunities to expand,” said Gorman, who has worked with the Arkansas operations for about a year since transferring from another area. He’s been with the company about 20 years.
“There’s been a lot of growth in Arkansas in 15 years, and we believe there’s room for more,” he said. “We’ll continue to be on the lookout for those opportunities that make sense for us to pursue.”
An earlier version of this story, written by Mari Aoyagi, manager, marketing communications and branding, Komatsu America Corp., appeared on the company’s web site.