Longtime Ewing business sold
April 16, 2020
Nearly 54 years after Hinrichsen Sand & Gravel began production, its owners, Lawrence and Sharon Hinrichsen, have delivered their final truckload of products.
The following information was compiled by Sharon, shared with SAM and will be included in the Ewing 150th Sesquicentennial book.
In the spring of 1966, Lawrence and Sharon Hinrichsen moved from Chambers, where they had baled and sold hay for some time. Grant Mott, Sharon's father, had purchased the Schrod place the previous year and asked Lawrence to open a gravel pit there.
The first year, we sold gravel for $1 per yard, paid our workers $1 an hour in wages and paid 11 cents for fuel and 25 cents for gasoline. We purchased our fuels from Willis Rockey and were his biggest customer at that time.
Moving into a cracker box house with a one-year old and another on the way was a real adventure, to say the least. Making the most of the situation, they constructed a dredge, bought dredging equipment from a closed pit at Arnold and set out on their new way of life.
Jody was born in November 1966, Judi in 1969, Janeen in 1974 and Matt in 1979. This is all important to the story because as the children grew, they took on responsibilities at the operation. All of the children ran equipment. In later years, when they applied for jobs, the fact they had run equipment and worked for a family business was beneficial.
Matt applied for a job as a loader operator when he was 22 and the interviewer asked him what qualified him over 75 other men who applied. He answered, 'I have 10 years of experience,' and he did get the job.
I think that having the world's largest sand pile was something the kids' friends envied. One of their favorite things to do was play in the wash water as the dredge was operating. They knew the rules and to stay away from water coming out of the sand trough. I also remember their friends coming to visit when some of them were actually in college and building a giant sand castle.
Sharon worked alongside Lawrence and drove trucks and loaders, as well as ran the dredge. At least I always had a good tan. Only actually fell into the pit a couple of times.
In 1992, we ventured into redi-mix concrete. Like everything Lawrence bought, it usually entailed a trip to another state. One mixer truck came from Duluth, Minnesota. One came from Oklahoma. The project of bringing the trucks home usually included some very funny stories.
When the community built the Summerland Golf Course, they asked us about providing gravel and sand for the greens and we provided this free of charge. It was $5,000 worth of material, and naturally, the best way to do this was to put the kids in the trucks. Judi was a student at UNL that year and she said when she went back to school, if someone asked her what she did in the summer, she would tell them she spent a lot of time on the golf course. They didn't have to know that she was in a dump truck
We tackled a few big jobs over the years. We furnished concrete for hog confinements and dairies who built free-stall barns. I think I probably have a good story or two about some of those projects.
We furnished gravel for several big road projects. I remember operating the dredge around the clock for one month. I would go to bed at 3 a.m., and get up at 6 a.m., to run the loader.
One of our first big projects was providing concrete for a state bridge that is still there, just west of the Page turnoff on Highway 20. We sent a truck to Neligh before the pour started and he didn't get back and didn't get back. I was driving the truck with the foot feed flat on the floor. We managed to get it under the deadline.
We decided in 2006 that it was time to cut back a little and discontinued our concrete business. We continued producing gravel for roads, irrigation wells and sand for the dairies. Yes, the cows love the sand.
This year marks the 54th year we have been doing this. There comes a time when we all need to take it easy. I have not been operating heavy equipment for some time. Lawrence still drives a truck when necessary.
I would imagine that we may be retiring before too long.
We have made many friends and have many loyal customers which we appreciate.