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Zollinger Sand & Gravel: 75-Year Institution Quick to Adapt with Terex Ecotec

Zollinger Sand & Gravel in Rittman, Ohio, has been in business for over 75 years. The multigenerational family business began with Charles Zollinger in the ‘40s to serve the construction industry by offering sand and gravel dug from their Wayne County property.

“During the ’50s, my grandfather began washing sand and gravel,” said part-owner Mike Zollinger. Washing aggregate removes the silt, clay and other debris, producing a high-quality product with more application potential. For example, sand, when added to clean crushed rock, creates superior, longer-lasting concrete, Zollinger explained.

“I remember my grandfather purchasing equipment from Columbus Equipment; we had an Eagle Iron Works dewatering sand screw and Cedar Rapids vibrating screen.” Mike Zollinger; Part-Owner, Zollinger Sand & Gravel

Digging, washing, and delivering aggregate products requires heavy equipment. Much of the Zollinger’s processing equipment was purchased in the ‘50s and ‘60s. “I remember my grandfather purchasing equipment from Columbus Equipment; we had an Eagle Iron Works dewatering sand screw and Cedar Rapids vibrating screen. Our service technicians handled repairs, but Columbus Equipment has always been there with parts in stock, keeping us up and running,” Zollinger noted.  

In the ’90s, the sand and gravel supply on the property began to wane. The writing was on the wall; the Zollingers needed an alternative business plan as the sand and gravel became exhausted. The business had supported generations of Zollingers over the years, and they were not going to throw in the towel easily. Taking stock of their assets, the Zollinger’s had land and manpower with the knowledge and experience to run heavy equipment.  

Having an extensive supply of holes throughout the property from the original mining operation, a logical course of action for the next endeavor was filling those holes. 

The Zollinger’s began a construction and demolition debris landfill that addresses both objectives – reclaiming the land and employing family members. The process of filling holes may sound easy, but extensive regulations are in place to ensure the reclaimed land is environmentally compliant. The process involves the precise lining of each pit with materials such as clay and tires to filter and prevent leaching, the pumping out of rainwater and transportation to the city sanitary system, and even engineering work on blueprints with exact GPS locations of each pit. 

The Zollingers also branched out from the C&D landfill to serve the community by crushing and recycling concrete into stone and fill material for construction companies, as well as producing quality topsoil. 

“The former trommel gave us two scoops of great soil to one of low quality. The Terex 2100 produces six scoops for every scoop of marginal soil.” Mike Zollinger; Part-Owner, Zollinger Sand & Gravel

Committed to recycling every possible product to preserve our natural resources, the Zollingers recycle organic matter into nutrient-dense fine topsoil. They begin with organic matter from construction and landscaping companies which can include tree stumps and roots, brush, grass, leaves, rocks, and good ol’ dirt. 

Initially, the material is composted to encourage natural decomposition. After several months the pile of organic material is screened, sifting out the nutrient-dense topsoil from rocks, roots, and other materials. Once sorted, the topsoil and rock are made available to landscapers, construction companies and homeowners. The remaining organic material can either be composted again or spread on the reclaimed land to promote the growth of natural vegetation within the landfill.

To sort the organic material, the Zollingers previously used a Read Screenall. This machine accomplished the job, but it was not the most efficient. Deciding to invest in a new screening machine, the Zollingers explored the various options and once again turned to Columbus Equipment Company for a Terex Ecotec 2100 Trommel Screen. 

“Jesse Garber from Columbus Equipment was very knowledgeable and assured us this machine would meet our needs and have the flexibility to be repurposed should we change focus,” Zollinger said. Having the trommel on hand, Columbus Equipment Company was able to expedite delivery and setup, enabling the Zollingers to demo the machine and determine its capabilities. 

“At Columbus Equipment, we are a family-focused business, so it’s always a pleasure to serve multigenerational family companies. It’s impressive for a company to successfully adjust their business model, providing valuable services for their community for over 75 years,” said Jesse Garber, Columbus Equipment Company, Material Processing Division general sales manager. “Learning the needs of Zollingers, I was confident the Terex 2100 would be a great match.”

The Terex Ecotec 2100 Trommel has increased both the production rate and quality of Zollinger’s topsoil. “The former trommel gave us two scoops of great soil to one of low quality. The Terex 2100 produces six scoops for every scoop of marginal soil. We enjoy that screens are easy to change, and the 180o swivel remote-controlled conveyor allows us to load multiple trucks quickly,” Zollinger noted. 

“The heavy-duty design makes the Terex 2100 one of the most versatile trommels on the market,” Garber says. “The Terex 2100 is built tough to stand the test of time like the Zollinger themselves.”

Returning to the same company his grandfather purchased equipment from 60 years earlier gives Mike Zollinger healthy peace of mind. “Columbus Equipment and Jesse have delivered on everything they said they would. Purchasing equipment from them is like keeping it all in the family.”


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