Graniterock

Graniterock

Graniterock is a 100+ year old American corporation based in Watsonville, California. It operates in the construction industry providing crushed gravel, sand, concrete and asphalt. The company won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1992 and has been named one of Fortune Magazine's Best 100 Companies to Work For.

History

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Beginnings

Graniterock was founded by Arthur R. (A.R.) Wilson and Warren Porter on February 14, 1900, who saw a good business opportunity in buying and operating the granite quarry in Aromas. For the first few years, quarry operations were tough; fifteen men used sledgehammers, picks, shovels and wheelbarrows to break and load broken rock onto horse-drawn wagons for the trip to the railroad line. Relief came in 1903 when the quarry was automated with a steam powered No.3 McCully crusher. It produced 20 tons of 2 ½ inch rock per hour. By 1904, rock was transported from the quarry face to the crushing plant in horse-drawn, side-dump rail cars, which were still loaded by hand. There were about 24 men working at the quarry.

The 1906 Earthquake flattened the new steam crushing plant and temporarily halted operations. Train rails were twisted, rail cars overturned, and the quarry operation generally devastated. Fortunately, the earthquake’s devastation created a new demand for construction: in the years that followed, Graniterock Company built a number of important buildings in San Francisco and around the Monterey Bay area. Among those still standing are the old Gilroy City Hall and the old San Francisco Wells Fargo Building.

As automobiles began to replace the horse and buggy, street paving became a necessity. Graniterock Company received its first street contract for placement of water-bond macadam on Lake Avenue in Watsonville, from Walker Street to the northeast city limits. The total contract, including grading and gutters, amounted to $18,000. In 1915, the California State Legislature passed the "Get Out of the Mud Act", a bill encouraging the modernization of streets. Over the next few years, the streets of Santa Cruz and Salinas were paved with Graniterock concrete.

World War I caused freight costs to skyrocket, and as a result, local plants were developed so that rock could be sold in small truck lots. Graniterock Company built bunkers along the railroad from South San Francisco to San Luis Obispo to supply local construction business. Construction was booming throughout California, and Graniterock Company was expanding with the state's growing needs. In 1916, a railroad was built to Southern California’s Doheny oil fields, and Graniterock sent men and machinery as far south as Santa Maria to do the work. In 1918, Graniterock built the highway connecting Castroville with Moss Landing. Among the builders was author John Steinbeck.

At the Aromas quarry, expansion was taking place as well. In 1909, a Marion steam shovel was purchased to further mechanize operations, and in 1911, horse drawn carts were replaced with a Porter steam locomotive to haul broken rock from the quarry face to the steam crusher. At San Francisco’s Panama Pacific Exhibition in 1915, Graniterock won the Gold Ribbon for excellence in crushed rock.

Changes

In 1922, the first of a number of important business changes took place at Graniterock. Warren Porter had suffered financial losses in a speculative venture with the Java Coconut Oil Company, which took over his interest in the company. A.R. Wilson later purchased this stock, and became majority shareholder and president. Also that year, Wilson started Granite Construction Company as a separate entity and became its first president. In 1924, Wilson started Central Supply Company, which distributed materials. Graniterock Company remained the producer of rock and sand products for construction projects and materials sales.

Just before the stock market crash of 1929, A.R. Wilson suffered a heart attack and died while at work. His wife Anna assumed presidency of the company and his son Jeff took over as general manager.

The Great Depression took a heavy toll on American business, and Graniterock was no exception. Work was so scarce at the quarry that a whistle was blown to call men in when as little as one car of rock was ordered. The Board of Directors had to ask permission from the Federal Reserve Bank in order to give Christmas bonuses. Unable to offer regular employment, the company made interest free loans to employees to cover medical bills. Struggling to keep its three companies afloat, the Wilson family sold its interest in Granite Construction Company to Walter Wilkinson and Bert Scott in 1936. South San Francisco, San Jose and San Luis Obispo branches of Central Supply Company were also sold.

Progress

In the 1930s, Central Supply opened California’s first asphaltic concrete plant in Aromas and began California’s first delivery of pre-mixed concrete in tiny dump trucks. This concrete was used in such projects as the WPA's construction of the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium. World War II brought new activity at Graniterock. Materials were needed to build Fort Ord, Camp McQuaide and the Navy airstrip in Watsonville. Many men were away serving in the armed forces and working in war plants, so women and workers from Jamaica took over operations. A new plant was built at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, and excavation of the mining face at the Aromas quarry brought it down 100 feet, now level with the train tracks. A new primary crushing plant was built at the lower level and opened in 1946.

By the early 1950s, Jeff Wilson had left Graniterock and Anna Wilson had retired. Her daughter, Mary Elizabeth Wilson Woolpert, took over as president. Again, it was a time for growth. Wet processing and loading plants were built at Aromas, and new plants were acquired at Salinas, Felton, Santa Cruz and Los Gatos. Central Supply purchased its first fleet of transit mixer trucks from Ford Motor Company in Salinas. With two young children at home, Betsy Woolpert turned the company presidency over to her husband, Bruce G. Woolpert.

Modernization

During the 1960s and 1970s, Graniterock grew with the tremendous development of the Monterey and San Francisco Bay areas. Central Supply and Graniterock merged to form one company for construction materials production and sales, and expansion took place in sand, concrete, asphaltic concrete and building materials operations. Graniterock opened new plants in San Jose, Redwood City, Santa Cruz, Gilroy, Hollister, Salinas and Seaside. In step with the times, Graniterock installed its first computer—an IBM System 3.

In the 1980s, aware that operations at the Aromas quarry were becoming outdated, the company undertook a major investment in beginning a complete quarry modernization. First, a giant mobile primary crusher was designed and built—the world's largest of its kind. Conveyors were installed to carry rock from the primary crusher to a new wash plant and secondary crushers. A state-of-the-art, computer-controlled automated truck and rail car loading system was unveiled. All were designed to move the newly named A.R. Wilson Quarry into the 21st century.

The 1990s brought new innovations. The Pavex Construction Division, now providing high quality road and highway construction, had become one of California's premier heavy engineering contractors. A new road materials plant in South San Francisco, concrete operations in Redwood City, Southside Sand and Gravel in Hollister, two new sand plants in Santa Cruz County and recycling centers in San Jose and Redwood City were added to the Graniterock family. “Quality by Design” became the byline, and in 1992, Graniterock won the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the Nation's highest honor for business. The company was named one of the country’s 100 Best Places to Work by Fortune Magazine.

Community Outreach

Commitment to community service, always a company priority, has been expressed in many new ways. Annual 4th of July “Pops and Rocks” concerts to benefit the United Way began at the A.R. Wilson Quarry. Graniterock people began an effort to share quality practices with the public schools of Santa Cruz County, and their annual United Way contributions became a major source of funds for charitable organizations.

On February 14, 2000, A.R. Wilson’s grandson, Bruce Wilson Woolpert, welcomed 1,650 Graniterock people, customers and friends to San Francisco’s Moscone Center for a gala celebration of 100 years of commitment to the values of quality, innovation and respect for people which were first established by the company’s founder. After a keynote address by President George H.W. Bush, more than 30 educational seminars were presented. Now, still family owned and operated, Graniterock Company employs over 650 people in 18 locations stretching from South San Francisco to Monterey.

Products

Graniterock provides a wide range of construction aggregates, sand, decorative rock, concrete and building materials. It manufactures its own river rock and has a line of Wilson aggregates and sands.

Graniteseal is Graniterock's own sealcoat system based on the Carbonyte Process, which modifies molecular bonds to convert asphalt into a superior-performing thermoplastic.

Graniterock also offers a number of green, sustainable, recycled and environmentally acceptable products to its customers. Its green products include Pervious Concrete, Perco-Crete, High-Fly Ash Content Concrete, Interlocking Pavers, Recycled Baserock, Aggregates such as Sand, Rock and Gravel, Concrete and Asphalt Products, Parking Bumpers, Turfstone, ECO-Block, and Erosion Control. Some of these products qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credits.

Awards

Here is a list of awards Graniterock has received in recent years.

2006

Clean Ocean Award — City of Santa Cruz

Manufacturing Business of the Year — San Benito County Chamber of Commerce

2005

Clean Ocean Award — City of Santa Cruz

Best Places to Work: #19 — National Society of Human Resources Management

2004

America’s Best Small and Medium Companies to Work for in America Great Places to Work Institute, Inc. — National Society of Human Resources Management

Quality In Construction Award — National Asphalt Pavement Association

2003

Web Site Award Winner — Pit & Quarry Magazine

Excellence in Leadership 2002–2003 Campaign — United Way of Santa Cruz County

Outstanding Corporate Campaign Gold Level 2002–2003 — United Way of Santa Cruz County

2002

Web Site Award Winner: Honorable Mention — Pit & Quarry Magazine

First Ever ‘New Millennium Award’ 2001–2002 — United Way of Santa Cruz County

Outstanding Corporate Campaign Gold Level 2001–2002 — United Way of Santa Cruz County

2001

“Rocky” Safety Award: A.R. Wilson Quarry — National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association

100 Best Companies To Work For: #17 — Fortune Magazine

Business Excellence Award: Manufacturing/Distribution — Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce

2000

Business of the Millennium — San Benito County Chamber of Commerce

2000 Diamond Achievement Commendation for Excellence in Hot Mix Asphalt Plant/Site Operations — National Asphalt Pavement Association

100 Best Companies To Work For: #19 — Fortune Magazine

Producer of the Year — 2000 Pit & Quarry Magazine

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