July 16, 2020

Mansfield Sand – Moving with the times

The fact that Mansfield Sand can trace its origins back to 1840 is undoubtedly impressive. However, no business can prosper on its heritage alone, which is why the Nottinghamshire-based company continually reinvests in its infrastructure in order to keep moving with the times, as Richard Abraham, Managing Director, recently outlined to Construction Industry News.

“We have been a long-standing pioneer in the development and production of premium quality silica sand-based products for over 170 years,” explains Mr Abraham. “We have invested approximately £20m in a state-of-the-art brick facility and, more recently, a new purpose-built quarry. Our brickworks is now one of the most modern and technically advanced in Europe, while our Two Oaks Quarry, which has been in operation since 2015, has the most up-to-date and advanced equipment currently in the industry.

“Our washing plant is the beating heart of the quarry. This highly efficient plant was designed to give the flexibility needed to produce an extensive range of silica sand products that can meet the requirements of our customers, both existing clients and potential. The quarry also has an automated bagging plant, producing over 2 million bags of dry sand per annum. We are passionate about finding solutions for our customers and this is highlighted by the variety of bespoke bagged/pallet configurations we can offer to meet our customers’ every requirement.”

As part of the upgrade investment at Two Oaks, McLanahan installed a Hydrosizer plant with the ability of blending to 1% accuracy to help Mansfield Sand meet the strict specifications required of its final products. The final products are discharged at less than 15% moisture, which creates stockpiling efficiency and allows for further drying processes.

To meet the requirements set forth by the planning commission, the entire plant is housed within a galvanized structure, clad and insulated to reduce the noise level.

Since commissioning the Hydrosizer plant. The plant’s modern control system gives Mansfield Sand the ability to adjust the product to meet consumer demands.

It produces a consistent 280 mtph, and to date, the plant has produced 2 million tons of sand for Mansfield Sand Company.

Another key element of Mansfield Sand is its brick division, which has been operating since 1926 and has been on its current site for the past ten years. It produces through its Columbia plant over 30 million concrete brick products, ranging from concrete commons and coursings through to brick slips and closure blocks. It supplies major builders’ merchants, buying groups and floor beam manufacturers, whilst offering over 20 different concrete brick and bespoke products to meet the needs of the construction industry.

Supported by 73 staff across its two operational sites and its head office, Mansfield Sand supplies a number of different sectors with its range of products including:

• Silica sands;

• Industrial sands;

• Pavior and foundry sands;

• A wide range of concrete brick products.

Its specialist products include:

• Equestrian silica sand products including Fibresand Equestrian;

•Specialist sports surfaces for both construction and renovation in golf, football and rugby including fibresand and Fibrelastic.

With its wide range of products and its robust and extremely well-developed infrastructure, Mansfield Sand’s forward-thinking approach is ensuring it continues to lead the way within the marketplace. “We invested £9.5m in the development of the brickworks, which was commissioned at the back end of 2009,” highlights Dominic Delich, Brickworks Director. “The previous factory was approaching the end of its life, so the decision was made to invest in a new site and a brand new operation. We also took the opportunity to change tack slightly, moving away from calcium silicate bricks towards dense and medium dense concrete products.

“Unfortunately around the same time the recession hit, but as a company that has seen more than its fair share of market downturns, we decided to stick to our plans. Thankfully this has proven to be the right move as the business has been growing ever since.

“Our brick and sand product range complements the products produced by our larger competitors to the extent that they prefer to purchase from us rather than manufacturing themselves. This forms the basis of a partnership where we produce a cost effective alternative.

“Thanks to our continual investment strategy, we now have state-of the-art production facilities and over 30 years of mineral reserves. This helps put us head and shoulders above our peer group and provides comfort for the larger organisations to transact and do business with us. Our health & safety culture is also vitally important, which is essential in any industry.”

Mansfield Sand’s ownership structure is another significant feather in its cap, as it is both agile enough and robust enough to accommodate the requirements of its customer base. “We remain a privately owned business that operates very much as a family run company. This ensures that decisions can be made quickly. Where demand from customers necessitates change, as an SME we are able to react rapidly and adapt ourselves and our products to suit customer requirements. This agility is highly valued by our customer base. At the same time, thanks to our stable management structure, we can formulate plans to enhance the long term prospects of the business.”

The strength of its range and its service is not only reflected in the ongoing growth that Mansfield Sand has been enjoying, but also in the award recognition it has been receiving. For example, it is currently in the running for not one but two Nottinghamshire Business Awards (SME of the Year and Excellence in Industry) having made it through to the final three contenders in both categories.

It will find out how successful it is at the awards night on the 22nd of May but in the meantime Mansfield Sand is focused on capitalising further on the opportunities it is currently seeing within the marketplace, particularly as a result of the huge housing shortage.

“Day-to-day I am mainly involved in the bricks side of the business and this is an area that is seeing significant growth on the back of the Government’s attempts to deliver the volume of houses the market requires,” outlines Mr Delich. “Philip Hammond said a few years ago that we needed to build 300,000 new houses a year to address the housing crisis, but unfortunately we’re still a long way from that level of construction as an industry.

“That said, there is still growth to be had and we are increasing production by 50% after taking on more staff in order to do so. We supply ancillary products to around 90% of the flooring companies that supply the products for the base of the house. When they see improved sales then so do we. What’s more, due to the extensive nature of our range, we’re also able to supply other products too, which again is seeing our sales volumes increase. We’re therefore looking at ways to increase production further in order to meet demand.

“Because our sand products are relatively niche, there is always a strong demand for them. As we produce a wide range and have the flexibility to adjust to meet our customers’ demands, it makes us an easy business to deal with. The current market for house building is very strong and demand for our brick products remains high.”

Again underlining its long-term thinking approach, Mansfield Sand has acquired new offices that will provide the capacity to support its aspirations for continued growth. Mansfield Sand have bought an office block in Mansfield located equal distance to all production sites three times larger than we currently need, so we plan to rent out the additional space in the short to medium term with a view to sole occupancy in the future.

“With a new business strategy in place we are increasing production at the quarry also. This will add other strings to our bow in terms of our ability to supply products to the marketplace and supplement what we already do. We are investing in a purpose built gravel washing plant to introduce a range of washed gravels to our product range, while at the same time broadening our current portfolio.” Commented Richard Abraham.

With unrivalled experience and an ongoing commitment to investing in its facilities and product range, Mansfield Sand is well placed to add further to its already illustrious history.