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Making the market: when Jim Dykes can't find a market for recycled aggregates in the Atlanta area, he sets about creating one.

Atlanta has been highly regarded as a thriving business climate for several decades, but don't tell Jim Dykes that it means doing business there is always easy.

Dykes, founder and owner of Dykes Paving, Norcross, Ga., has championed the cause of using recycled aggregates in the Atlanta region.

In the 35 years his company has been in business, Dykes has shifted the company's focus away from being purely a paving company and moved it toward the recycling of aggregates and other materials that can be used in paving applications. Jim has subsequently become a pioneer in aggregates recycling and is considered an expert in the field who is a frequent guest speaker at industry trade shows and association meetings throughout the country.

The company has met with several successes, but just as in other parts of the country, even in the thriving business climate of "Hotlanta," there have been barriers to overcome.

FROM THE GROUND UP Jim Dykes grew up learning the asphalt paving industry from his father, who Jim describes as "a paving contractor, politician and farmer," who at one time owned a company that operated 13 asphalt mixing plants.

But Jim once thriving company was disbanded after his father passed away, during a time when Jim was serving in the Air Force and taking college courses.

Rather than inheriting a company with established regional operations, Jim started our on his own with $5,000, one track and a desire to win paving and patching contracts.

Not long after starting Dykes Paving and Construction Co. Inc. in 1968, Jim began gravitating toward cold milling and other processes that involved the recycling of materials.

Finding milling and other recycling processes workable, efficient and ecologically sound, Jim has steered the company away from being a pure paving contractor and toward being a supplier of recycled aggregates and paving materials made with secondary materials.


Although Jim was a believer early on that paving materials made with recycled content could compete effectively, convincing customers and potential customers has taken some creative effort.

In some cases, Dykes Paving has engaged in what retailers might call a "loss leader" strategy, making up-front investments and expenses to promote the use of recycled materials to state regulatory and specification officials, potential customers and even competing contractors and paving materials makers.

"Our first demonstration, we invited officials from the state DOT, the FHWA and other paving contractors--basically our competitors--to come out and look at it," says Jim, regarding the company's effort to introduce a paving material made from a 50/50 blend of natural and recycled aggregates. The effort paid off, as "some 300 attendees came to see it," recalls Jim.

Covert operations have also been part of Jim's tactics. After creating a cold patch asphalt product, Jim was having difficulty finding takers in the market to try out the material.

Working under cover of darkness, Jim began hit-mid-run missions at pothole-laden parking lots, patching holes with the Perma Patch product covertly, and following up at a later date to see if the property owners were satisfied with the patching job. "I guess they figured at first the 'pothole fairy' had visited them, until I showed up to explain it" quips Jim.

Even though Jim was questioned by authorities on one such after-hours visit, he nonetheless found this 'guerilla' tactic an effective way to establish a market for an unproven product.

Why go to all the trouble to develop and market recycled aggregates products? "I like doing new and innovative things," says Jim. "It gives me something I can direct my hyper-kinetic energy toward."

That energy has been needed, say Jim as acceptance of new products has seldom been gained easily. "It didn't turn that quickly from rejection to acceptance," he remarks, speaking of both private contractors and government purchasing and specification agencies.

But repeated successes with the material--sometimes high-profile ones--have helped turn former market preconceptions around. In terms of volume and publicity, Dykes Paving's role at the Turner Field job site (the baseball stadium built as part of Atlanta's 1998 Olympic Games project) marked one significant example.

Working as a sub-contractor to D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co., Greensboro, N.C., the two companies were able to turn the demolition of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and the adjacent construction of Turner Field in 1997 and 1998 into a case study for on-site concrete crushing.

The companies recycled 100,000 tons of concrete, using the entire amount as base material for the new parking lots surrounding Turner Field. The application prevented a tremendous amount of material from being hauled offsite as well as prevented the need to haul in new base rock.


Although some recycled aggregates markets are gaining solid footholds in Atlanta, Jim Dykes is far from complacent. Rather, he continues to direct his considerable energy toward developing yet more products using recycled materials,

Among the more established products is Perma Patch, the cold-milled asphalt product ideal for large areas in need of repaving. The process saves costly base material and trucking expenses by milling existing base and surface material on site and placing it right back onto the site as road base.

Recycled concrete used as base aggregate or as a paving aggregate and recycling asphalt into increasingly higher percentages of hot-mixed asphalt blends are also Dykes Paving specialties.

On the more experimental side, Dykes Paving has been accepting asphalt shingle scrap from several north Georgia shingle manufacturing plants and working it into paving blends.

One paving material blend Dykes Paving has created uses roughly 70 percent recycled asphalt pavement (RAP) combined with about 28 percent processed shingle scrap, along with about 2 percent diesel fuel. The shingles are processed from 5/16-30 3/4-inch-minus size by a grinder made by Packer Industries of nearby Mableton, Ga. The materials are combined and run through a pug mill.

The resulting product is a flexible, highly durable pavement ideal for industrial driveways and truck lots. One job site where the material is in place is at a steel service center in Atlanta, where 18-wheel trucks hauling steel drive over the material on a regular basis. "We wanted to put it into an extreme situation," Jim remarks.

Examining the driveway after three months of use, Jim notes that the truck traffic has further compacted the spongy material since it was laid down, just as it was designed to react. Thus far, no rutting or other problem signs haw" arisen on the driveway.

The demonstration site is located just one mile away from another Dykes Paving experiment, this one on a grand scale. Dykes Recycling, a division of Dykes Paving, has acquired a 20 acre site in central Atlanta that had served as a concrete recycling facility/ tipping area for two previous companies that were unable to remain viable at the site.

The result has been an accumulation of tipped materials in varying states of composition: some slabs, some asphalt, lots of rabble--stone of it with plenty of reinforcing steel included--and material that has weathered and aged into pebbles and powder.

Rather than regarding the site as a nuisance or an eyesore, Jim Dykes is treating it as an urban quarry that can yield another 250,000 tons of material before it is tapped out. The total amount crushed at the site thus far by the company is more than 1.5 million tons of material, Jim estimates.

Currently, a combination of Excel, Lippmann and Telsmith crushers and screens are producing a variety of specification products, including a considerable amount of #57 coarse aggregate that is in demand for several applications by local contractors. Sand, gravel and larger-sized aggregates used in base and drainage applications are also produced.

On a typical weekday, a number of Caterpillar excavators and loaders can be seen "mining" this material and then moving it to staging and crushing areas for its eventual processing.

Although the task looks enormous, Jim says that eventually the inherited on-site material will be rapped out, at which point new tipping activities can increase while the site becomes a centralized processing location for recycled aggregates. "There is so much here to crash, but at some point all this material will be sold," he remarks.

The location, just a few miles northwest of downtown Atlanta, is ideal for receiving tipped material, says Jim. "In any city, you're going to get more commercial demolition materials in the central business district," he remarks.

The Dykes Recycling site is adjacent to a quarry operated by Vulcan Materials Co., which is the only operating natural aggregates quarry remaining inside Atlanta's "perimeter" interstate highway belt. Thus, on the sales side, the combined sites are becoming an established shopping zone for purchasers of aggregates.


As active as Dykes Paving is in a number of market sectors, Jim sees more opportunities developing for the company.

One avenue of growth could be created by the increased contractor, corporate and government agency interest in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program offered by the U.S. Green Building Council, Washington.

Regional institutions such as Georgia's state university system have increasingly sought to meet LEED materials recycling guidelines, causing contractors to seek out Dykes Paving. The company can benefit both by receiving construction and demolition debris and by providing recycled-content products to building or parking lot contractors.

"We're seeing more and more business because of the LEED program being followed by contractors," says Jim. "They're super interested in being certified, and we're really the only recycled concrete operator in Atlanta," he notes.

One recent project at Emory University in Atlanta involved the use of recycled aggregates in parking lots and in walking trails on the campus. "We're just touching the tip of the iceberg on the things we can do."

The economic sense of many current recycling methods is plain to see, says Jim. "We recycle products that we have a captive market for. We can use all sorts of things day in and day out, as base material, in hot asphalt mixes, in cold mix, and in other ways."

And if an established use for a material does not yet exist, or if additional markets need to be found, Jim Dykes and Dykes Paving will be among the first to explore new options.

"Some work, some don't," Jim says bluntly of his experiments. "My employees accuse me of dreaming some of this stuff up at night, just to keep them busy," he quips.

But the continuing innovation has created a pattern--a closed-loop cycle of innovation at Dykes Paving. "We have recycled materials every possible way you can imagine," Jim states. "The more we get into it, the more products we develop and the more we think about it all over again."
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Article Details
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Author:Dion, Martine
Publication:Construction & Demolition Recycling
Article Type:Cover Story
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:Packer is on the spot.
Next Article:Making plans: a New England contractor conducts careful planning for its construction materials recycling program.

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