Kansas family expands business with new Fusion™ ready-mix plant

Smith Center, KS (December 12, 2016) – Smith Center, Kansas is about as close as you can get to the heart of the American heartland. In fact, it’s just a 20 minute drive from The Geographic Center of the United States. It’s also hours away from the nearest city.

Smith Center is the quintessential American small town. It’s surrounded by an ocean of farmland, and is home to the legendary high school football team immortalized in Joe Drape’s book, Our Boys.

An American family of entrepreneurs

John Franklin was himself a fullback for the Smith Center Redmen back in high school.

He carefully checks for any oncoming traffic before driving his pickup truck through an intersection, mindful of the heavy load he’s pulling.

“You have to be able to work at lots of different things in a town this small,” he says. John should know. A hard-working entrepreneur in a family of hard-working entrepreneurs, he’s towing a mini excavator on his way to another job.

Over the years, he has grown his contracting business by doing a wide variety of work for folks in town. Business keeps growing. He and his father, Dale, just bought a brand-new CEI concrete plant and a fleet of well-maintained trucks.

Investing in the community

“It was about more than just investing in a concrete plant,” John says back at the Second Cup Cafe. Sitting across the table from his dad, he adds: “It was about more than just getting into the concrete business. It was about investing in the community.”

“You see,” John continues, “people keep leaving Smith Center, and they don’t come back. I love this town, and I want to see it thrive.”

The farm foreclosures that racked the American heartland in the 1980’s affected Smith Center, too.

Fortunately, there are people who still believe in the American heartland. Fortunately, there are people who back up that belief with their hands, their hard work, and their wallets. Fortunately, there are guys like John and Dale Franklin.

Dale, a well-known football legend from the nearby town of Lebanon, adds: “Our plant will also create jobs, here in town.” They’ll need people to drive the trucks, finish the concrete, and help at the plant. The Franklins will be able to provide top-quality concrete for both civic and agricultural growth.

American innovation

When John started contemplating getting into the concrete business, he had the opportunity to buy out a local company with three aging, but functional plants. Before making a final decision, he and Dale decided to attend the World of Concrete tradeshow in Las Vegas, just to see what was available. That’s where the Franklins encountered CEI.

CEI at that time had just unveiled its new Fusion Hybrid-Process Ready Mix Plant. The Fusion plant combines precision aggregate blending technology with traditional cement metering to create a hybrid process that yields better, more consistent concrete.

The precision blending of graded aggregates allows the production of better concrete, while using proportionately less cement than common methods.

The heart of the plant is the aggregate blending unit. It utilizes a series of in-line bins that hold multiple sizes of aggregates and sand. Each bin releases to its own dedicated feed conveyor. Each feed conveyor is fitted with its own belt scale for accurate monitoring of each aggregate in real time. Feed conveyors release to a collecting conveyor that runs underneath. Aggregates are precisely blended in ribboned layers.

The aggregates are accurately blended before they even go in the truck, further allowing for a superior mix than older methods.

The system has other benefits. There are no clam-shell gates, and no air solenoids. The result is a plant that operates more quietly and requires less maintenance. PLC controls provide simple and easy operation. These are backed up with redundant manual controls as well.

But, there was more that got the Franklin’s attention.

Dave DeFeo was a veteran of the ready-mix concrete business before he joined CEI. He and the Franklins struck up a conversation in Las Vegas that continued with DeFeo visiting Kansas to help them assess the value of the used plants they were considering.

“At that time, we weren’t really considering buying the CEI plant,” John admits. “However, we began to weigh the costs of repair and maintenance for several aging plants, versus buying one new, cutting-edge plant.”

In the fall of 2016, the Franklins visited Albuquerque, New Mexico to see Dave demo a fully-operational Fusion plant at the CEI facility. They wound up buying it.

The Franklins have decided to name their new concrete business “Fusion Concrete Products.”

For additional information, please contact the CEI Sales Department at 800.545.4034.


Media Resources — Press Images:

  • CEI Fusion™ Hybrid Process Ready Mix Plant, installed in Smith Center, Kansas at Fusion Concrete Products. ©2016 CEI Enterprises, Inc.
  • Three-bin aggregate blending unit of CEI Fusion™ Hybrid Process Ready Mix Plant. ©2016 CEI Enterprises, Inc.
  • PLC-based controls at Fusion™ Hybrid Process Ready Mix Plant in Smith Center, Kansas at Fusion Concrete Products. ©2016 CEI Enterprises, Inc.
  • CEI Fusion™ Hybrid Process Ready Mix Plant, installed in Smith Center, Kansas at Fusion Concrete Products. ©2016 CEI Enterprises, Inc.
  • CEI Fusion™ Hybrid Process Ready Mix Plant, installed in Smith Center, Kansas at Fusion Concrete Products. ©2016 CEI Enterprises, Inc.

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