Nelcon required an upgrade to achieve the goal of increasing production—Astec delivered the technology and equipment to reach the goal.

Located in Kalispell, Montana, Nelcon Aggregate and Asphalt has a reputation for quality service and, befitting a land called “Big Sky Country,” for reaching new heights. Ten years ago, the company purchased a gravel pit in Kalispell with an eye toward expanding its offerings—including asphalt, road base, and screened rock—to Montana and its customers in nine surrounding states. In 2010, Nelcon purchased a 250 TPH (226 MTPH) hot-mix plant to accommodate its mobile paving work—already exceeding revenue of $10 million annually—and specially trained its workforce in Superpave design and application. Recently, Nelcon president Mike White turned to Astec Industries for help in reaching a new goal: building a portable plant that could produce 500 TPH (453 MTPH).

Meeting of the Minds

If Nelcon was serious about reaching this goal, it would require a substantive upgrade on some existing equipment and wholly new components elsewhere. Nelcon Aggregate and Asphalt had started its offerings with solid equipment but was increasingly coming to see it as an “entry level” paving facility that could not meet the demands of its growing customer base—or the company’s own ambitions.

The search for an upgrade is where Kent Hood, Nelcon’s Astec sales representative, entered the picture. Kent and Mike found common ground quickly. As a sales representative, a fair amount of Kent’s job comes down to establishing trust with his clients, so that when he recommends a product, they know it’s money well spent.

However, Mike White and Nelcon’s request was not the typical call to an Astec sales rep. Kent recalls the first questions not being focused on where to cut costs or how to pinch a few pennies here and there—Mike’s first question centered on wanting to know “what’s the best we can get?”

l to r: Guy Stroh, Brad Anderson, Mike Daniels, Jana Rummel, and Jim Evenson; all with Nelcon.

Nelcon’s portable HMA plant was outfitted with the Astec Six Pack® to achieve the desired tons per hour.
Nelcon’s portable HMA plant was outfitted with the Astec Six Pack® to achieve the desired tons per hour.

“Nelcon needed the latest and greatest technology Astec could offer, the most highly portable plant that they could use based on their required production rates, which was a minimum of 400 TPH (363 MTPH),” Hood added. “That’s basically where the Astec Six Pack® came in.”

The Astec Six Pack®

Known as the world’s best-selling portable asphalt facility, the Astec Six Pack® would be the perfect fit for Nelcon’s goal of supplying more customers with more mix as quickly as possible. The Six Pack® plant can be prepped for relocation quickly and can be towed over highways unlike some unwieldy plants of the past. Once arriving at a new worksite, the plant sets up easily with minimal work due to Astec’s pre-assembly design: pre-piping and pre-wiring, including operating consoles in the control house, are done during manufacturing, as are the factory-installed baghouse filter bags with cages. Also, many of the safety and inspection components like ladders, stairs, platforms, and handrails are shipped in place.

Nelcon’s Astec Six Pack® would need a five-bin cold feed system, two portable conveyer and screen sets, a portable drag conveyor and surge bin, a portable dry additive system, a portable recycle feed system, the baghouse, and, at the heart of it all, a Double Barrel® portable drum mixer with a recycled fuel oil (RFO) asphalt cement heater. Once assembled, this plant would be up for any challenge and then ready to hit the road for the next one.

Right Tool for the Job

With the Astec Six Pack®, Nelcon now had the right tool to do the work it needed and provide a quality product to the customer, and the results were apparent almost immediately. Nelcon soon reached their goal of producing 500 TPH (453 MTPH), breaking their previous production record.

As Nelcon’s increased production allowed them to more quickly meet their current customer base’s demand, more opportunities became available. Potential customers already knew of Nelcon’s reputation for quality, but now they knew Nelcon had the equipment to meet their needs. “We have a top-of-the-line paving superintendent,” said White, “but before the upgrade, we felt we were sending him into battle with a water pistol. Now, he has an M-16.”

Even though Nelcon Aggregate and Asphalt is doing more business now than ever, if the company’s history for growth is any indication, it will be looking to expand again in the near future. And when it does, Astec will be ready.