Georgia Company Evolves in Grinding

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Hamby Truck and Equipment Relies on DuraTech Machines for Grinding Operations

CEDARTOWN, Georgia — Some forest products companies evolve through different aspects of the industry as the nature of the economic and resource climate changes. Other companies come to the forest products industry as a surprise.
Terry Hamby, owner of Hamby Truck and Equipment Inc., never expected to work in forest products; his interest was the waste industry.
Circumstances led him into forest products, however, and today he has a thriving business that serves several aspects of the industry.
Terry started Hamby Truck and Equipment 23 years ago in Austell, Georgia, about 25 miles west of Atlanta, to install refuse equipment on new truck chassis. In the early 1990s he moved his business to Cedartown, about 45 miles northwest of Austell. In 1997, he and a partner, Ronnie Wright, started Wright Choice Hauling Inc., a construction and demolition waste removal business.
Before long Wright Choice Hauling was hauling a large amount of pallets, brush, and other wood material. Terry realized he could reduce the volume of material going to a landfill by grinding. He invested in a DuraTech HD-8 industrial tub grinder and launched waste reduction operations for Hamby Truck & Equipment.
“We had an industrial customer with a lot of pallets, and we started grinding the pallets to keep from putting them in a landfill,” Terry explained. Before long, he had more scrap pallets and other wood waste than he could handle with just the HD-8. He bought another DuraTech grinder, this one an HD-9 industrial tub grinder, which is a larger than the HD-8 model.
“We kept on grinding, and we kept on growing, and then we bought another HD-9 from DuraTech,” Terry said. “Then I needed yet another bigger grinder to do the brush and stump grinding on jobs sites, so I got rid of one of the HD-9s and bought a 4012 from DuraTech, which is an even bigger industrial tub grinder.”
Once he had the capability of the larger DuraTech, Terry’s business changed. Instead of grinding only wood waste the company picked up through its roll-off business, he began contracting to grind the stumps and brush from land-clearing operations for new subdivisions. Contracting for developers, he needed to be able to transport a grinder to a job site and perform grinding operations on-site.
“We also haul the mulch that we create when we grind the wood,” said Terry. “We found a buyer for the product, and they reuse the wood mulch for energy.”
Terry turned to DuraTech again. “I bought the grinder that’s between the HD-9 and the 4012, which is the Model 3010,” he said. “The reason I bought that one is that it’s smaller.” The model 3010 is more easily moved around in winter conditions, he said. “That’s how we stand now. We’re grinding and hauling a lot of mulch away.”
Although the company started out grinding pallets, much of the emphasis now is on grinding wood debris from the land-clearing operations for home builders. “We do a lot of clearing around the Atlanta area and within about 100 miles of here,” Terry said.
Terry’s daughter, Kim Sanders, oversees the daily operations of Hamby Truck and Equipment and Wright Choice Hauling. Grinding brush for the town of Cedartown spurred the company’s involvement in land-clearing operations, she noted. “When we started grinding their brush, word of mouth spread, and that led into land-clearing type work,” she said.
The increase in grinding volume and material available for boiler fuel also has led to a broader range of customers for Hamby Truck and Equipment.
“We haul some of the ground material to Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation in Stevenson, Alabama, which is about 100 miles from our location,” Terry said. “We also haul material to Meade Westvaco Packaging in Cottonton, Alabama, and to Temple Inland Forest in Coosa, Georgia.”
With all the grinding capability that he has, Terry said, the company is hauling a considerable volume of boiler fuel material. “We haul between six and 10 loads a day,” he said. “Each load is at least 25 tons.”
Before he bought the DuraTechs, Terry said, he looked at grinders running on a number of different jobs. “I just didn’t see a lot of grinders that suited my taste,” he said. “Then I tried a DuraTech. It’s a good grinder, and a fast grinder, and it turns out of a lot of mulch.”
Once he had some experience with DuraTech, he was sold on the manufacturer. “For instance, with my 4012, I can grind a 25-ton load within 40 minutes,” he said. “DuraTech builds a grinder that has a lot of speed. They turn out wood fast, and I’ve had very little trouble with the ones I’ve had. There’s very little maintenance on them. After the experience I’ve had with them…I just don’t feel like I need to go to anything else.”
When it comes to service, maintenance, and other aspects of doing business with the supplier, DuraTech has been very easy to work with, according to Terry.
“The company has been wonderful,” he said. “They get me parts, generally overnight, and we do our own maintenance. We figure out a lot of our own problems, but if there’s a problem we can’t solve, I notify the rep for this area, Benny Respress. He’ll either find out the information for me or put me in touch with whomever I need to talk to. We generally can talk out the problem over the phone and be going again in just a short period of time.”
Kim agreed. “Any time anything goes wrong with a grinder, Benny is quick to respond. We couldn’t ask for any better customer service.”
The company once sent the hammer mill in the HD-9 to DuraTech’s plant in North Dakota for repairs. “We had it back within two weeks,” Kim said. “It was a really fast turn-around, and when it got here, it was exactly as it should have been.”
Terry’s company employs nine workers. “I run the offices and keep track of the equipment,” Kim said. Terry supervises the grinding operations and operates the grinder. The company also employs a maintenance mechanic and additional workers in the equipment and waste hauling operations.
Terry and Kim are particularly proud of the commitment the company has to finishing every job, every time — the way they say they’re going to do it. “We take pride in meeting our deadlines and our commitments,” Kim said. “We are honest and straightforward and treat our customers with integrity. There are some companies that don’t take responsibility and are always trying to pass the buck, but we pride ourselves on doing whatever it takes to make the customer happy.”
Terry agreed. “We finish every job, whether we make money or not,” he said. “If we don’t price a job right, we still finish it. It’s like this: if I have a new customer call me and I go do a job for him, then he will call me back for another job.”
Over the next few years, Terry said, he wants to see Hamby Truck and Equipment continue to grow. He sees some challenges on the horizon, though.
“If fuel costs continue to go up, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” said Terry.
Kim pointed out that Hamby Truck and Equipment operations are dependent on fuel. “Fuel is a big expense for us,” she said. “The tub grinders, excavators, loaders and dozers require off-road fuel, and the tractor trucks use on-road fuel. If something doesn’t happen pretty soon with the cost of fuel, it’s going to put a lot of hard-working people out of business. It certainly affects the way we think about our future.”
Terry said that if fuel prices stabilize or go down, he’d like to move ahead with expanding the company’s forest products operations. “I’d like to buy another 4012, which also will mean another excavator or two,” he said.
Terry enjoys working and being in business. “I’m a workaholic,” he said bluntly. “I enjoy what I do. My work really is a hobby that I get to do every day. I’ve always loved tractors, grinders, and other equipment, so for me, going to work is the same as when other people go to the lake on the weekend. I just love doing what I’m doing. That’s what keeps me going.”
Kim laughed about the pace her father keeps up. “At 63 years old, Terry can out-work anyone I’ve ever seen,” she said. “I’ve never seen anyone, young or old, who can keep up with him, much less out-work him. It keeps him healthy, and I hope it keeps him around for a long time.”