As one of Eugene’s local aggregate material producers, Delta Sand & Gravel understands the importance of preserving the land. To best care for the land they work upon, it is their job to maintain the natural environment upon it. At Delta, protecting the environment starts with preserving the Willamette River wetlands.
A history of habitat restoration at Delta’s filtration ponds
On the northern border between Delta Sand & Gravel’s 600-acre property and the Willamette River lies a 30-acre wetland consisting of 5 filtration ponds. Delta Sand & Gravel’s founder, Avon Babb, dug the ponds with the help of his two sons, Allan and Lee Babb in the 1960’s. The ponds create an ideal habitat for local wildlife, wood ducks and geese, an initiative close to Delta’s founders’ hearts.
When Delta adjusted their mining location in the 50’s they created an impermeable dam at the Babb’s house on Hunsaker Road. Frances Babb, Avon Babb’s wife, or Grandma Babb as Delta calls her, had a pond in her yard that was home to over 200 geese. Because of the family’s affection for the birds, duck boxes and goose nesting perches were placed on the mining property in the early 70’s, and they have been replaced and repaired every few years since.
Goose and wild duck nesting boxes
Over the years Delta Sand & Gravel has placed several nesting perches and boxes at their filtration ponds to support local bird species. These nests are made locally, either by Delta Sand & Gravel or by Delta’s Ducks Unlimited partner, Steve Abbot. Each nest is constructed and placed with the safety of the birds in mind.
Delta’s goose nesting perches are made using recycled rock sifting screens from Delta’s aggregate processing plant. When they replace screens at the plant, Delta repurposes the old screens as platforms for goose nests. Delta welds each salvaged screen to the top of four large metal posts near the water at the ponds. Then, they place a tire on top of the screen and stuff it with straw and grass to give geese a soft, raised nest to lay their eggs in. Predators like raccoons and badgers enjoy eating goose egg and gosling dinners. So, Delta raises their nesting perches with metal posts to make it harder for predators to climb into them.
Wood duck nesting boxes are provided to Delta Sand & Gravel by Ducks Unlimited. These wooden boxes are similar to the traditional bird house we all made as kids. But, each of Delta’s boxes feature a larger entrance and greater volume to fit wood ducks and ducklings inside. Delta places wood duck boxes at the edge of the water on poles covered with PVC pipes. Like the metal poles used on Delta’s goose nesting perches, the slick nature of the PVC helps prevent predators from climbing into the wood ducks’ nests. Delta will be replacing aging duck boxes this season with a batch of 26 freshly fashioned, bird-friendly homes.
Creating and maintaining habitat for local birds
In late February Delta will begin installing new wood duck nesting boxes and restoring the goose nesting areas around their filtration ponds. Delta Sand & Gravel is proud to support healthy habitat for local ducks and geese, and hopes to keep them coming back to the Willamette River wetlands for years to come. Contact Delta Sand & Gravel for more information about their environmentally sustainable practices.
In our last blog, we talked about the importance of Earth Day and Arbor Day. This time, we’re back to delve into the importance of our traditions and the history behind them. Delta Sand & Gravel has been serving the community for over 90 years, and during this time Delta has established its light display tradition and is now starting a new tradition on Flag Day.
Delta Sand & Gravel has been a part of the community since 1927, but our founder has been deeply rooted in the Eugene community for even longer. Our founder, Avon Babb, attended the University of Oregon before entering the US Army. When he returned, he began Delta Sand & Gravel to contribute to the need of aggregates in Eugene. Avon battled many financial difficulties in the beginning phases of the company, and made ends meet by selling milk, berries and other produce.
In 1965, Avon’s son, Alan Babb took over Delta Sand & Gravel, with the intention to continue his father’s legacy, and provide the community with a rock solid foundation. It was at this time that Delta Sand & Gravel was given its official name, because of the confluence of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers.
History of the Lights
The light display started in the 1980’s by Alan Babb. On a dark December evening, Alan Babb took a Christmas tree into the surface mine (pit) to cheer up the team, ever since then the light displays have become a tradition. The display of lights gives us the opportunity to show appreciation for our employees and our community.
As many Eugene community members know and love, the Delta lights have been one of our favorite traditions since the early 1980’s.These displays can be seen from the Delta highway during several different holidays. These holidays include Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Fathers Day, Mothers Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fourth of July and Halloween.
Each holiday has a symbolic display of lights, and we frequently receive notes and letters from people about what each display means to them.
One of our favorite stories was from a woman who cherished the “Hi Mom” sign that we put up around Mother’s Day. The note filled our hearts with joy:
Thursday, May 6th, 1993 – Our mom died at the age of 63 from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Mother’s’ Day was Sunday, May 9th.
On Friday, May 7th – My sister and I were in a friend’s flower shop ordering flowers for our mom’s funeral the following week. The shop owner was happy about her cruise that started on Monday. Everyone else was there ordering flowers for their mom. Much joy surrounded our sorrow.
The following week after the funeral was the next memory of that time that stood out. It was when I first noticed the “Hi Mom” sign in the Delta Sand & Gravel lot. I’d been aware of other ones at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July, but the mom and dad days had not stood out in my mind.
That sign, over the years, took me through grieving and many tears, to now a warm happy moment of saying “Hi, Mom” that feels like a personal communication with Mom.
So, my greatest thanks. Which I’ve meant to send you for years— to the person who goes through the work of putting those signs up each year. They touch our lives, are a part of the community and are much appreciated.
This note and many others, are what inspire us to continue to light up the community. We hope our light display continues to inspire community members for years to come.
This year is Delta Sand & Gravel’s first annual Flag Celebration. At this event, our team will raise a large flag on Flag Day to celebrate the adoption of our Nation’s flag that took place in 1777.
The flag has significant importance in the United States. The 13 horizontal stripes represent the original 13 colonies and the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. Some historians say that the colors of the flag are symbolic, while others say the color symbolism is a myth.
The colors of the stripes may or may not be symbolic, but either way the flag as a whole is a symbol of freedom for all Americans. The flag has been seen as a symbol of hope and unity since it was first seen flying amidst the dust and rubble of early warfare.
Some say that countries from all around the world look to the American flag for inspiration. Our team strongly believes that everyone, regardless of your country, is in some way connected to the flag. Our team is excited to start this annual Flag Day tradition because it is a way of recognizing what armed forces members give to and have done for our country, and it acknowledges the sacrifices made by all armed forces people.
We are excited to celebrate the history of our flag in a special way for this Flag Day. On June 14th we will proudly display our 50 ft. flag pole which we received from the University of Oregon Erb Memorial Union (EMU). The Erb Memorial Union recently completed an extensive re
model and we were honored to be a part of it by performing underground utilities, mass excavation, footing excavation and hardscapes.
Everyone in the community is welcome to come and celebrate Flag Day with our team on June 14th around 7:15 am. Be sure to get there early because we will host breakfast between 6 and 7 am before the main ceremony. If you can’t make it, be sure to follow the event on our Facebook page.
Our team will continue to show our appreciation to the community with our numerous and special displays of lights . We will be sure to post about them on our social media accounts, so if you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook to see imagery of our displays of lights.
In Eugene, Oregon, there are more than 100,000 trees that line more than 530 miles of streets. Our community is passionate about trees and preserving the beautiful natural habitat of our home. Here at Delta Sand & Gravel, we too, are passionate about sustaining our community. Our team works in nature every day and is acutely aware of how important it is to not only preserve our environment but to ensure our operation is sustainable.The month of April featured two holidays that our team proudly celebrates—Earth Day and National Arbor Day. These holidays mark a special time here at Delta Sand & Gravel, a time where we plant trees in our own backyard to help enhance our already beautiful community.
The Beauty in Oregon
Spring is upon us, and summer is just around the corner. One of the many things we love about our community is Oregon’s natural wildlife. On our property, we frequently see fish, many different types of birds and occasionally deer!
We like to keep our property as wildlife-friendly as possible. This is why we have teamed with Ducks Unlimited and Boy Scouts of America to build 20 wooden nesting boxes that will be placed throughout our property. These nesting boxes are important to keep ducks safe from predators. Ducks are an important part of our ecosystem and they face greater challenges to successfully rearing their young in populated areas. While we are looking for the right spot for our nesting boxes, we generally keep the following tips in mind:
The right material: we put special thought into what material is used to create these boxes. Rough wood is the preferred material for the box because the ducks can climb it as if it was a tree in its natural habitat.
Improving the odds: securing the nesting boxes to posts keeps them out of reach of some predators that share the environment such as snakes and raccoons.
Nesting material: these nesting boxes are new homes to our duck friends, so we provide them with the right bedding to make their home more comfortable. We use wood shavings for the bedding, so that the female duck can keep her eggs safe and warm.
Duck nesting boxes are just one of the ways we like to help ensure the habitat on our property is supported, and we love partnering with other businesses. If you have any more questions about our duck nesting boxes, feel free to contact us!
Inspiration from Earth Day
Every April, our team gets especially inspired by Earth Day and National Arbor Day. These holidays help our team evaluate our own earth- consciousness.
When the concept of “Earth Day” first started in the United States of America, the country looked very different. At this time, there was no awareness of the effects of oil spills, constant factory smog and overusing our precious resources. Earth Day 1970 forced people to reconsider their effect on the planet. In 2020, we will be celebrating Earth Day’s 50th anniversary!
Our team remains inspired by Earth Day throughout the year because of the beautiful setting we work in. Recognizing the importance of being aware of our impact keeps us passionate about our recycling efforts. Some of the materials we recycle include ¾’ minus rock, concrete and asphalt. Currently, our team has recycled over 15,253 tons of materials from January to April.
Recycling Aggregates is becoming more and more important with the rise of the construction industry. “Construction aggregates make up more than 80 percent of the total aggregates market, and are used mainly for road base, riprap, cement, concrete and asphalt,” according to the USGS. The remainder of the recycled aggregates that are not used for roads, etc., are used for new concrete mixes, low-value products and high-value riprap.
Our team is dedicated to continuing and improving our recycling efforts, and we hope you will join us by recycling as much as you can. If you aren’t sure where to take your recycling, BRING has a great resource here.
Earth Day is a popular holiday, but have you ever heard of Arbor Day? It is actually deeply rooted in the history of our country, and it is now a worldwide holiday.
The history of this holiday takes us back to the pioneer days. One of the pioneers that moved to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 was J. Sterling Morton from Detroit. He set out to establish this new area as his home by planting trees, shrubs and flowers. Morton also had a passion for writing, and leveraged this passion to write about agriculture in one of Nebraska’s finest newspapers. Morton wrote about the importance of trees, not only for the environment but to help the soil and protect the land. Through his writing and his leadership, Morton became the Secretary of the Nebraska Territory. With his new position, Morton created a tree planting day to be called “Arbor Day” on April 10th, 1872. Arbor Day spread throughout the country and world, and it was estimated one million trees were planted in Nebraska on that day. in 1885, Arbor Day was named a legal holiday in Nebraska on April 22nd, which was Morton’s Birthday.
Today Arbor Day is an established holiday, with celebrations all over the world. Arbor Day even has it’s own Facebook page, where you can find local events and participate in the celebration in your community.
This year, our team will be celebrating Arbor Day by planting 150 trees on our land to reduce dust and other naturally occurring pollutants, as well as preserve the natural beauty of our hometown. We are set to plant Skyrise Screening Trees on our property line, as well as Green Rocket Cedar trees. Both of these trees are extremely quick-growing. We love the way Skyrise Screening trees look when they have reached maturity. These trees provide clean air, dust protection and shade. In addition, the trees add an aroma to our property that smells fabulous.
Tree planting is important to our team, and our town. Every year around Arbor Day, our team jumps on board to start planting more trees! If you want to learn more about our earth-conscious efforts, please follow us on Facebook!
“Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” –Vince Lombardi
Every year, Delta Sand and Gravel’s management team plans a retreat to strengthen the team, and create a fun environment for collaboration. This year’s management retreat at ConExpo created several moments for the team to bond and grow.
“Off and Running,” was the theme of the triennial CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. This great event takes place every three years and brings industry leaders from around the world together. The Delta leadership team was excited about the opportunity to meet other industry leaders, collaborate about new technology, and share their experiences. Even though it was an industrious and packed week, the team was able to find time to relax with one another, have some fun and build on their internal relationships.
Within an hour of arriving on Wednesday, our group attended the TopCon Customer Appreciation Event at OMNIA Night Club located at Caesars Palace and Resort. This was a top shelf event with upscale fashionable attire. Mingling with leaders in field control and automation of equipment was very informative. Delta invested in this technology about 3 years ago and it has helped with accuracy, productivity, and cost. We met many new friends, learned more about the technology and explored additional applications of the technology.
By Thursday morning the entire team had arrived, settled in and began classes while also exploring the Expo. We regrouped after the long day on top of the 25th floor with refreshing beverages and some much needed sun! 2017 has been a really wet year in Eugene. Projects have been delayed and we have incurred some additional expenses during the storms. It was nice to shed some of our winter clothes, warm up and talk about all we learned.
Delta has always believed in the power of the TEAM. As our owner emphasized, the only way to build a company with great success and scale is to build a great team! Team dinners at Fellini’s at Stratosphere and The Steak House at Circus Circus had lively discussions that increased understanding about individual communication styles and interests. Thursday night, the group went for a walk after dinner and ended at Top Golf. Healthy competition finished off the night while members partnered up, hit golf balls, and played corn hole.
Our event would not have been complete without some of our fearless leaders daring the Sky Jump at the Stratosphere. Yes, our leader’s sanity was questioned, but once they took the dive off the 108th floor of the Stratosphere Tower at SkyJump we knew we could overcome any challenges in the coming year. SkyJump is a heart-pounding, open-air leap from 829 feet above the neon Strip. The controlled descent sends you toward the landing pad at speeds topping 40mph, while we below gasp and applauded our leader’s bravado. Quote, “It’s a total rush”.
Other members preferred to get their hearts pounding at the craps table. It is probably important to refer to “Las Vegas marketing catchphrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” at this point. If you want to see more pictures and learn more about Delta’s Team building experiences at the 2017 ConExpo head to our website and FB page.
Delta is proud to recognize the importance of team-building activities and knows they are a powerful way to unite us, develop our strengths, and address our weaknesses.
With a growing population and just over 6,000 active sand and gravel mines in the U.S., the demand for sand and gravel is growing. It is growing more and more important for the aggregate industry to be innovative in order to increase efficiency, and become more earth-conscious. Last month, our team attended the ConExpo-Con/Agg in Las Vegas, Nevada. At this event we learned different tips and tricks to help improve safety and increase efficiency.
Data ROI plays a crucial role in understanding how your aggregate services work at a granular level. At the expo we learned about KPI’s and analytics, and which metrics are most important to measure. These metrics include delivery time, (the time it takes from when the order is submitted to customer’s satisfaction), order fill rate, material quality, service accuracy, service performance and customer satisfaction. All of these KPI’s are relatively easy to measure, document and improve.
It is also important to measure, document and improve on business data that is not as easy to see. Some of the harder KPI’s to measure include product awareness, staff engagement rate and staff knowledge. How do we measure how our employees are improving their knowledge base? The answer is more simple than it sounds, we create plans with benchmarks, we take our employees to conferences, and we create an environment that promotes learning and development.
Product placement is an important metric to measure, and it is often forgotten about in the aggregate industry. Whether it is pea gravel or river rock, it is crucial for our Eugene community and our digital footprint to accurately display what products we sell. The most important way to review product placement is with sales. Which products are selling the most? Which products are selling the least? In this era of digital media, it is also important to measure your online product placement. To measure product placement digitally, you can use Google Analytics and other digital marketing tools, depending on how big your digital footprint is.
After you measure the data as a company as a whole, you can begin to really analyze your processes and figure out how to become more efficient. Efficiency is important for more than just sales, it also improves safety, which is particularly important to Delta Sand & Gravel.
The most effective way to improve efficiency is to maintain safety with proper training. With proper training, there is a lower likelihood of errors occurring, and more time can be spent actually performing work rather than responding to safety incidences.
There are two effective ways to improve efficiency in the gravel extraction process. The first way is to optimize truck patterns, so that trucks are working efficiently and with a minimum of delays on their routes. This goes along with optimizing the pit layout, so that there is less distance for trucks to travel. If your operation allows for it, you can also install conveyor belts to transport materials rather than trucks. Conveyor belts do however require significant planning and capital investment, and are not suitable for all operations.
Another way to improve efficiency is to stay updated on demand (analytics and data helps with this). With this information, you can create action plans for when equipment needs to be maintained, and build up a stockpile of products that have predictable demand patterns. This will reduce operations impacts during a peak season, because you will know when your peak season is and can take preparatory measures.
Reducing Energy Costs
It is also important to keep energy costs down. One way to keep energy costs down is to reduce idle time. On some job sites, employees leave their trucks on while checking in and monitoring equipment. A great solution to reduce idle times is to create a “no idle zone,” while working on certain projects.
As our friends at Knife River said, “One of the biggest ways to save fuel is to eliminate unnecessary engine idling,” says Ned Pettit, Knife River’s environmental manager. “There’s a very good business case for it because fuel costs are so substantial; they are really a major bottom-line item.”
At Knife River, they created a solution called “Shut Down and Save,” which helps to reduce idle times and decrease energy costs. Last year Delta invested in EROADS. It is a leading transport technology and services company that has helped us become more efficient. One thing EROADS allows us to do is monitor unnecessary fuel idle time. Joining programs like this will help reduce energy costs and will help us become more eco-friendly.
Our team is always inspired to learn more within our industry, and the ConExpo- Con/Agg inspired us to keep learning so that we can be innovative. To learn more about our process and how to be innovative within the industry, keep following our blog!
The ConExpo-Con/Agg convention featured a benefit auction: this year it benefitted the Call of Duty Endowment, which helps veterans find high-quality employment. The silent auction was full of everything from iPad’s and TV’s to the ultimate NASCAR experience. Our team could choose to donate, or buy tickets to a game, and 100% of the proceeds went to help the Call of Duty Endowment. Additional money was also raised during the benefit concert which featured the band Foreigner. Delta Sand & Gravel enjoyed helping raise money for veterans and will continue to show support on June 14th (Flag Day), when we raise a flag under lights at our main facility in Eugene.
In addition to supporting veterans, Delta proudly supports the Relief Nursery and some members will be attending 2017 Main Event an Evening in Casablanca. The Relief Nursery is an amazing organization that helps keep children safe from neglect and abuse. Delta has also been involved with Habitat for Humanity and is scheduled to help do some specialized site prep for two homes later this year.
Delta not only gives to organizations and members in the community we give back to the environment. This year in honor of National Arbor Day Delta is partnering with Friends of Trees and our team will plant 150 trees on our property. A majority of these trees are Skyrise Screening Trees, and they will be planted on the property line. These trees are extremely fast growing and are used for windbreaks and as dust barriers.
Alongside the Skyrise Screening trees, we ordered 50 Green Rocket Cedar Trees. These trees are fast growing. In fact, Green Rocket Cedar Trees can grow 3 ft. or more per year! These trees will add a pleasant cedar like aroma for everyone to enjoy. We will have more about these trees, the beautiful 600 acres we call home and the wildlife that lives where we work in our May blog.
Our team is excited about our partnership with Ducks Unlimited. One of the benefit events we are planning will include this partnership with Ducks Unlimited. Together, we will build 20 wood duck nesting stands that will be placed on our 600 acres.
We hope you continue to check in, read our blog, follow us on social media, and get involved as we work to give back to our wonderful community!
When our team visited Con/Agg 2017 last month in Las Vegas it was apparent how much technology is changing the future of our industry. Project AME (Additive Manufactured Excavator) helped prove how new technologies can be used to create stronger, more efficient machines. Although the materials may not be cheaper, they help cut back on production waste which will ultimately allow the construction industry to move towards a more earth-conscious model.
Smart systems have already made their way into our houses- from washers that tell us when our clothes are ready to refrigerators that inform us when we are out of milk. Intelligent equipment is the same idea; equipment that will warn us about safety, performance or quality issues. This equipment will keep our team efficient, and most importantly, safe.
From bulldozers to dump trucks, autonomous vehicles are coming to the construction industry. Like other technology trends, these vehicles will improve efficiency and decrease the risk of injury. In the future, drivers will be more like airplane pilots, simply guiding the vehicles, instead of controlling their every move. Autonomous equipment will also become more fuel efficient; vehicles will be able to continually move forward, instead of frequently stopping and starting, which requires more fuel.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a hot topic in the world of tech. Virtual reality is used in a wide variety of industries including retail, healthcare, military, business, and sports, just to name a few. How can VR be used in the construction and aggregate materials industry? The biggest impact VR will have on the construction industry is the ability to model buildings in a way we’ve never been able to model them before. Usually, architects have to physically build a construction project in a smaller way in order to really visualize the final product. With VR, construction projects can be seen in a much easier, less time-consuming way. This will help the industry make better decisions, with the entire picture literally in front of their eyes!
Drones will dramatically help the construction industry become more efficient and less wasteful. Currently, construction and mining companies use aircraft and manpower to survey land. Drones can complete this task more effectively and accurately. We are huge supporters in cutting down waste; drones will help our industry save time and energy, and improve safety by keeping people on the ground.
The ConExpo-Con/Agg was a great way to get a glimpse of the future of technology in our industry. We can easily imagine what’s next and are excited to be a part of it.
At Delta Sand & Gravel, we keep our team up to date with the latest industry standards in technology, employee safety and education. Our ongoing efforts improve efficiencies, customer service and employee satisfaction. Most recently, our management team headed to Las Vegas, Nevada for the ConExpo-Con/Agg exhibit. The theme of the event was “Imagine What’s Next,” featuring participation from across the entire construction industry.
Las Vegas is home to the saying, “go big or go home,” and the ConExpo-Con/Agg convention was definitely big. The expo hosted 2,500 plus exhibitors, 150 educational sessions and around 130,000 exhibitors in 2,500,000 square feet. The Tech Experience made this year’s expo incredibly exciting and extremely valuable.
The Ultimate Tech Experience for Our Industry
Our team is always looking for new ways to integrate the new technologies of today with the old mining tactics of our founder over 90 years ago. During the first day of the ConExpo-Con/Agg event, our team witnessed the unveiling of the first 3D printed excavator! This 3D printed excavator, otherwise known as Project AME (Additive Manufactured Excavator) proves that new technologies can be used to create stronger, more efficient machines. And, the ConExpo-Con/Agg didn’t just stop with 3D printing. The Tech Experience included drones, virtual reality, intelligent equipment and even autonomous vehicles. Our industry is often thought of as “old school”, but this expo showcased how much potential lies when we incorporate the latest and greatest technologies throughout construction and in the sand and gravel industry. The Ultimate Tech Experience really helped support the expo’s theme “Imagine What’s Next.”
Industry Targeted Education
ConExpo-Con/Agg 2017 offered more ways to learn than ever before. The educational program was broken down into 10 educational tracks that focused on important industry trends and issues. These tracks allowed our team to focus on the issues that are important to Delta. One of the tracks focused on business best practices with emphasis on data measurement. This information can be useful to anyone who is responsible for financial analytics regardless of the industry. You can see the whole presentation here.
The team also participated in safety and regulation sessions, learning better practices and training for keeping our crews safe. We spent additional time learning current methods, trends, and equipment innovations for aggregate production and our plant. Some of our team members ended the event going to educational sessions that focused on earthmoving and site development.
Delta Sand & Gravel is committed to giving back to the community and we were really excited to hear that The ConExpo-Con/Agg convention featured a benefit auction: this year it benefitted the Call of Duty Endowment, which helps veterans find high- quality employment. This event allowed our team to continue our commitment to give back in so many different ways.
Our team at Delta Sand & Gravel had a great time attending the ConExpo-Con/Agg convention. We enjoyed learning, giving back and exploring the newest in construction and aggregate materials technology. We also were able to take time as a group and enjoy some of the tourist activities Las Vegas provides. Another saying associated with Las Vegas “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” maybe true for some, but our team invites you to check back in the coming weeks to read additional posts about our trip and what we learned. We will have more exciting pictures and share more information about our industry. Until then you can check out the event Facebook and Instagram pages. We here at Delta are passionate about keeping up with industry trends, so check out our Facebook page for more industry news and information.