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Scott City's Pavestone plant supplies products to six-state area
Without such technological advances as its robot, Pavestone general manager Rex Livingston doubts his manufacturing facility could produce the 8 to 10 million units of stone products it makes on an annual basis.
Livingston said the robot can do the work of five employees, stacking pallets at a rate of three minutes per pallet. Each pallet can hold 64 bags of Pavestone's products.
"There's no way we could keep up with the volume we drive out of this plant without automation," Livingston said. "If an individual did it by hand, we may have to increase our labor by three to four times the amount we have now.
"And that allows us to service more than 500 retailers," he said. "It's simply immeasurable."
Located at 2720 East Outer Road in Scott City, the 20-acre facility began production May 21, 2001.
The plant is one of 16 manufacturing facilities that makes concrete paving stones and retaining wall units for customers in more than 40 states.
The company's largest customers are Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
The largest product the Scott City plant produces is its eight-inch Cornerstone segmental retaining wall, used to build structures that hold back rock or soil.
Livingston said the walls are popular because they are cost-effective.
The Scott City manufacturer's customers are primarily located in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas. Some of the company's most notable customers have been country music artist Kenny Chesney and former vice president Al Gore in the Nashville, Tenn., area.
Local projects have included laying permeable pavement on Fountain Street near the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus and on roadways in downtown Cape Girardeau.
Livingston said permeable pavements have been used in European countries for the past three decades but have recently grown in popularity in the United States.
He said this type of pavement eliminates or reduces the amount of storm water run-off that enters drainage systems.
"It's a great opportunity to engage our architects and specifiers on this green-generated concept," Livingston said. "We're finding there are a lot more folks who are ultrasensitive to the green initiative and as a result they're starting to drift toward that direction. This is a healthier way to handle storm water that normally would have run off into drains, and as a country we need to be looking at this concept."
Between 50 and 60 employees work either on the first or second four-day, 10-hour shift. Most employees work in the Masa plant, a 40,000-square-foot facility. The company's decorative rock is bagged in another facility on the property.
To make the material for the stones, two high-speed mixers combine various materials dosed with pigment, ash and cement.
The mixers minimize bottlenecks and keep ample product available; the plant produces an average of 10 square feet of the mixture every 12 seconds, Livingston said.
After the mixture is poured into molds, they go into a kiln to harden. After 14 to 18 hours, the paving stones are ready for packaging.
"Most people think that our operation is mostly hard, manual labor," Livingston said. "But the reality is automation is a big part of what we do here at Pavestone."
As for the future of Pavestone in the Cape Girardeau area, Livingston thinks the city's location makes for a bright future.
"Strategically Cape is geographically positioned to a number of large metropolitan areas, which include St. Louis, Memphis, Nashville and Little Rock," Livingston said.
"I refrain from shipping outside of a 300-mile radius, as transportation cost are too prohibitive. We also have been blessed with a work force that not only built the plant, but continue to operated the plant since inception in 2001."
2720 East Outer Road, Scott City