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Smith’s Gravel Pit fulfills dream of entrepreneurship for upstate businesswoman

June-17-0521by Jon M. Casey

For Kaye Stone-Gansz, owner of Smith’s Gravel Pit in Sodus, NY, a career as an senior executive for a large, well-known office business machine supplier in Rochester, NY, was only a stepping stone to what she really wanted to do in the business world; and that is to own her own business. When the opportunity presented itself in the form of an early retirement offer, she jumped at the offer and purchased a sand and gravel operation in 2011. From there, she acquired the necessary permitting and began operations in 2012. Since then, she hasn’t looked back.

“I grew up on a large potato / onion family farm in upstate New York and have had experience in the heavy equipment industry over the years.” she began during a visit to Smith’s Gravel Pit in mid-summer. “I attended Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology for my engineering degree, then went on to receive my masters of business administration from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. During that time, I had an opportunity to start up a green waste recycling and demolition business. While doing this, I was also on an aggressive career path pursuing my executive management career. By the time I left corporate America, I was running North America service / support.”

When the management buyout took place and the opportunity to make a career change became a possibility, Kaye decided that, because she had always wanted to own and operate a business of her own, she made the move to where she is today. “All the stars aligned in just the right way, so I took the buyout package and retired. At that point, I had been in corporate America for 25 years. It was then that my current husband Ross and I began to explore what types of businesses were available in the area, and we came upon this business. What I liked about this business is the heavy equipment, having had that experience. I didn’t know much about mining, but I came up to speed fairly quickly. 2012 was my first full year of operation.”

The primary business at Smith’s is gravel and sand. However, in 2014, Kaye had the opportunity to get into the limestone quarry business. The quarry is about 1 mile from her current gravel pit location. “This spring (2015) I did the first blast,” she says, noting that the new operation was a “ground up” operation. “I had to clear the land and get it ready for mining; we blasted at the end of May. It is from there that we are hauling the shot rock to the gravel pit for crushing with our new Terex® Finlay I-110RS tracked impactor. We bought that unit from Smith’s Heavy Equipment in Geneva, NY specifically for that purpose.”

Kaye says the Terex Finlay I-110RS has been ideal for her needs because it has the ability to crush and screen in one operation, with all of the product material coming from the machine in the size that she needs. Since the oversized material returns to the impactor after screening for additional crushing, this one unit is especially versatile. Custom crushing is also an option when the need arises.

“The gravel pit was an existing mine when I bought it, but it wasn’t the size operation it is today,” she says. “Since acquiring the business, we’ve added significantly to the customer base and have added equipment to process more material as sales have grown. We are making excellent progress, year over year, since we started. With the addition of the limestone we are offering we are really excited to see continued yoy growth.”

“We sell our material to municipalities, agriculture, landscapers and garden centers,” she says. “Our stone makes a beautiful landscaping stone because of its brilliant colors. The limestone offers me an opportunity to bid on large state and local governmental jobs. Being certified as a New York State “Minority Business” WBE/MBE helps in these efforts. I’ll also be looking to expand my residential customer market with quality crushed limestone for construction and driveway use.

Kaye currently employs 10 workers to keep both sites operating smoothly. “We started with five employees, but with our growth, I’ve been able to hire a foreman, Tom Oostering, to run operations,” she says. “Up until this year, I’ve been running this business end-to-end solo.”

At the gravel pit there are two screeners and wash plant in addition to the Terex Finlay I-110RS tracked impactor unit that they use to crush the limestone and gravel. They mine sand and gravel with a Hitachi EX270LC long reach excavator. From there, material is hauled to a Fintec 570 portable screen plant that feeds the stationary Trio wash plant.

Material (Gravel, Limestone & Sand) is moved with Moxy and CAT haul trucks, 2 frontend loaders and three dump trucks. “We offer a variety of gravel and washed stone as well as sand for masonry, bedding, ice control, utility and playground applications,” she says. “We have screened and unscreened topsoil as well as larger barrier stone and 6” to 8” cobbles.”  “With the limestone now on board, we offer several finished products including crusher run #2, #1 and 5/8” as well as various sizes of shot rock.”

Community relations

While her career is extremely important, Kaye manages a family life as well. She is married to Ross and they have a daughter Jacquelyn, who is 4. Ross has a son John Ross, who is 20. Ross is part owner of the business, however, his main job is general manager of Calvary Automation in Webster, NY.

“I am extremely active in our local community,” she adds, serving on the Wayne County Business Council. “I’m a charter member of the Wayne County Women’s Foundation, I sit on the Sodus Rotary Club, and I’m on the Board of Directors for the Lyons National Bank. As mentioned previously, this business is a certified New York State Woman Business Enterprise / Minority Business Enterprise (WBE/MBE).

For more information on Smith’s Gravel Pit, visit their website at


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