To understand what National Ready Mixed Concrete Company has built in Vernon in nine short months you must meet the heavy hitters behind the build. Scott Humphrey, Steven Wise, Steven Lode, and Sam Hild are the minds behind one of the largest concrete batch plants in the United States. And since the Vernon facility not only serves a huge demand as Southern California expands, it also stands as a flagship for National Ready Mix's West Coast operations. Everyone has eyes on Vernon. No pressure, right?
Scott Humphrey, of Dave Humphrey Enterprises, Inc (DHE), worked closely with National Ready Mix's management team. He brought DHE's 40 years of knowledge and success to the project. "We met several times with the operational management side of National Ready Mix," says Humphrey. "From their specific input, we were able to basically come up with the design and configuration of the plant keeping flexibility and future mix designs in consideration."
National's Operations Manager Sam Hild was present during the initial design phase. "When we were designing the plant, I think the major focus was on having the most amount of storage capacity and throughput capacity that we could," he says. "So the plant is designed with a lot more capacity than our normal plants."
A strategic piece of land in industrial Vernon, just minutes away from downtown Los Angeles, was chosen to meet a multitude of needs. The site required extensive remediation in order to proceed. “The plant site was used as a dump for many years in the 1900’s and was not available for development," Humphrey says.
Steve Wise, President of National Cement of California, also recognized the Vernon site as the best piece of real estate for their design, but it wasn't going to be cheap by any means. "Obviously, a property such as this, although we're in an industrial area, land in Los Angeles is very expensive, especially near downtown. That was a big investment the company had to make here." Wise knew such an investment would be worth it.
After some deep prep work, Humphrey started with a blank slate to build the high-capacity legacy plant. "If you look out back, we've actually elevated the entire site by about five feet. But the plant on top of it now is able to produce over 400 cubic yards per hour, sustainable, with the recovery basically that matches or exceeds what the output or what the production of the batch plant is," he says.
National Ready Mixed Concrete Company brought the plant online within a relatively short time: just nine short months. From its conception in 2016 to initial construction in January 2018, the new operation is a testament to National's drive toward quality, seamless production, swift access to building sites, the highest environment standards, and innovation.
DHE has been providing high-performance materials, parts, equipment, design, and innovation for the concrete and aggregate industry since 1979. Steve Humphrey and his team were more than ready to put all of the firm's turnkey power into the Vernon operation.
Wise contributes the fast and solid build on the partners chosen to execute the plan. "Back in January, we basically had finished capping the site, so all the work that you see here has been done between January and now, so almost nine months," Wise says. "The two main contractors on the site were very easy to work with and very responsive to our needs.”
Lode agrees that having all of the elements in place from the very beginning to choosing the best team created the plant that rests on less than an acre and easily produces various materials without interruption. He says, "It's been a very condensed time schedule with a lot of great success in putting the plant up."
Being a leading supplier of ready mix concrete certainly played into the rapid, yet comprehensive, construction of the Vernon plant. Piers and paving needed to be created out of the most resilient material given the timeframe. Humphrey says they were able to pull off in a way that surprised even these veterans of the industry. "National was able to use some specialty aggregates and we were able to pour. And within 24 hours we were able to start setting steel on top. Which is extremely unique."
Lode emphasizes the choice of materials for the Vernon construction. "With the accelerated pace of erection of the batch plant, it was important for us to choose mixes that were going to reach strengths at a higher age. Earlier and oftentimes we were using import aggregate with Euclid chemicals and a higher cement content mix to achieve the desired strength and a reduced period of time, to facilitate quicker construction," Lode says.
"Typically, that process is a 14-day window," Humphrey says. "But with the time frame and the need to get this plant into operation, they accelerated the concrete times. The density of the rebar inside a lot of these piers and columns required us to make some electrical changes."
Lode attributes the success of the Vernon site construction with National's choice in a solid, skillful construction company. "The concrete placement around the facility was very challenging. Fry's Construction did a great job and their attention to detail has been flawless," he says.
Another essential consideration in building the Vernon batch plant is that it’s in earthquake country. "It took over 100 truckloads to bring the whole facility together," says Humphrey. "That’s over 800 tons of steel for the two batch plants and material handling system."
The design also called for additional customizations. Humphrey explains, "We actually had to make some engineering changes to fit the requirements. Basically, for every one linear foot, the beams weigh about 285 pounds per foot. The columns out back, which hold up the big bunkers, are 30-foot-tall. The beams are actually [created in] a foundry in Arkansas. From there, they're machined and the chamfer frame of the bottom of the beams allowed us to meet the seismic requirements for the welding."
It's one thing to promise a legacy batch plant; it's another to bring it to life. The Vernon site not only met National's high standards, it's also expected to lead the company in new goals. Hild looks forward to that. "I’m excited to see how far we can push it, as far as yards per hour. We’re anticipating close to 400 yards per hour. We don't have another plant that will do that."
Humphrey and DHE answered and met National Ready Mix's challenge: Build a legacy plant in the shadow of a major American city in record time to meet a multitude of needs and on less than an acre. Considering all of those factors, Lode is pleased with the outcome."Over the years I've had the opportunity to work closely with Scott Humphrey and with his design and attention to detail on this facility has just completely knocked it out of the park. This plant supersedes anything that I've ever worked on."
For the entire team at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Company, that's a solid win.
To order concrete from the Vernon plant please call: (323) 923-4466. For further information and to request a quote to deliver to your project, please contact your National Ready Mix sales representative or call 626-358-9690 ext. 101.