INTO THE MIX

July 11, 2001 11:00 pm
HAULING ROCK: Gravel is loaded into one of four of the company's rock-hauling trucks. The company also operates seven cement mixer trucks. (Observer photo/KELLY WARD).
HAULING ROCK: Gravel is loaded into one of four of the company's rock-hauling trucks. The company also operates seven cement mixer trucks. (Observer photo/KELLY WARD).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

He built retirement homes for 15 years, but Jim Deal is not ready to claim a room in one of them for his own.

With a lot of construction background, the Imbler resident decided it was time, instead, to move in a different direction.

In May, he and family members joined with some other area residents to start their own business of making pre-mix concrete and selling sand and gravel products.

He opened USA Concrete on Industrial Lane, off Pierce Road just outside Island City.

I built retirement homes all over the Northwest, including the one at 12th and Gekeler in La Grande, Deal said from behind his office desk.

But I saw the need for some competition in the ready-mix business in Union County although the competition is good at their business, he said.

So far, things are going satisfactorily. A lot of people have been supportive and helpful in getting us started.

The company, which has 60 different mix designs to meet customers needs, does all kinds of jobs from small to large.

We have the capacity to pour up to 560 yards, he said.

A couple of weeks ago, his crew began work on the extensive La Grande wastewater treatment facility near Ladd Marsh.

Weve got quite a few contractors as customers and have worked for some developers. Weve done work for Nash Manfacturing and Norwood Homes.

The company has a fleet of seven cement mixer trucks and four rock-hauling trucks.

Deal and his wife, Trilla, and their two sons became partners with HNS Excavation and Rock Crushing to form USA Concrete, Deal said. The sons are Casey and Travis.

But we essentially started this business from scratch. HNS has 15 employees, including Bob Hines and his wife Loreen of La Grande and his sons Robert of Pendleton and Jeff of La Grande. The wives of the sons are both named Lori.

One thing that is making the arrangement with HNS work is the fact that we share drivers. When ours arent busy, they can work for HNS, and when theyre not busy, they can drive for us, Deal said.

He said he considered the Grande Ronde Valley as the companys market area. But they have access to rock-crushing pits in such places as near Ladd Canyon, Wallowa County, Halfway and Hermiston.

The company is also setting up a wash plant on Quail Road, off Highway 203 to wash sand and rock for the pre-mix business.

We are an experienced, locally owned and operated business, Deal said. Our strong selling point will be service.Weve seen other companies like ours come and go. We want to be around for a long time.

The office is open six days a week, he said, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., although he said he shows up for work often at 5 a.m. He said he would be on site anytime a customer wants if they make an appointment. The phone number is 963-6622.