Concrete recycling is but one facet of this contracting “gem”

007S.B. Cox Celebrates 50 years of serving Central Virginia
by Jon M. Casey
When it comes to a company diversifying into businesses that appear to compliment the original enterprise, they are rarely successful beyond a second business or two. Over time, they rarely make a go of it. Not so, with S. B. Cox, Inc. of Richmond, VA.
Since S.B. Cox, Inc. was established by S. B. Cox, Jr. in 1963, the company has grown not only from expanding their original construction and demolition operation, but also from taking on business operations like C&D Landfill operations, Readymix concrete manufacturing, concrete recycling, C&D roll off disposal services and even Portable Toilet Rental services. In all, S.B. Cox, Inc. offers eight enterprises including their most recent, the acquisition of Farmers Service Company, an independent Southern States dealer and concrete plant in Smithfield, VA.
On this August day however, S. Barbee Cox, III, president of S.B. Cox, Inc., invited WHEN to discuss the evolution of their concrete recycling business, which effectively began in the early to mid-1990s. He said that it was during that time it was becoming more difficult to find landfills that would accept construction debris, especially concrete. With the C&D business producing an abundance of recyclable concrete material, it was at that time, in 1995, that they decided to purchase an Eagle 2436 portable jaw crusher with the addition of a second crusher, an Eagle 1000 that is still in use today.
“Initially, we ran 3-inch minus,” he said. “At that time, there wasn’t any demand for crushed concrete. Now we stockpile 21B’s and  No. 3’s. We also stock crushed asphalt as well. Seventy five percent of the concrete that we crush here comes from the demolition projects that we contract to do. The remainder comes from outside roll off customers and our readymix plants.”
Cox said that they use a lot of the concrete material back in their own work, like backfill in the demolition jobs, roads in their landfill and liner stone for landfills. Half of what is produced in the Richmond facility is used at S.B. Cox projects.
He said that one thing that makes marketing recycled concrete in the immediate area is that Richmond is surrounded by granite. That makes the competition for virgin material stiff since there is an abundance of quality aggregate at a reasonable price. “East of Richmond, the demand for recycled material is greater due to the lack of virgin aggregate in that area. Thus, recycled concrete is more valuable east of here.”
“In 1995, rebar was a problem with crushed concrete,” he said. “It took us time to acquire a pulverizer. We were trying to downsize using other methods to break up the concrete that were not very successful. The jaw crusher was more forgiving with rebar than the impactors are.”
“We have learned that with recycled concrete, the product that comes out is no better than the material that you put (into the crusher),” he said. “We have become more selective on what we run. We learned that we need to prepare the material to be crushed. We pulverize it down to about basketball size before we crush it. That gives us better output and more longevity on our crushers. Annually, we produce around 150,000 tons of recycled concrete aggregates.”
“In Richmond, we end up with a lot of base material because the 3-inch sells promptly while in the Tidewater area, the opposite is true,” he said. “It’s a balancing act. Between prices of new versus recycled material, between incoming material and the demand for outgoing, there is always a balance that is taking place.”
He said that in 2012, they acquired a Terex Finlay tracked impactor and tracked triple deck screen system that they use on all the demolition jobs and to crush at Cox’s new recycling facility in Yorktown, VA. Cox added that the increased frequency of LEED certification on more “green” building projects has had a positive effect on their recycling business. With the need for third party verification and the accompanying documentation that goes with the recycling, Cox’s Richmond Recycling Center has become a convenient destination for C&D material from area contractors. For more information on S.B. Cox, Inc. visit their website at or phone 804-222-3500.

One thought on “Concrete recycling is but one facet of this contracting “gem”

  1. Kairi Gainsborough says:

    I never knew that many landfills might not accept construction debris, like concrete. In that case, it was a great idea for S. Barbee Cox to start getting serious about recycling these materials. Reusing it as an aggregate and backfill is so much better for the environment than sending it to a landfill anyway. It is nice that concrete recycling has also become a profitable endeavor.

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