‘Made In Milan’
Milan firm expanding with innovative construction products
By Steve Short
You don’t often see elephants in Milan, Tennessee.
But Elephant Armor, an innovative, “bendable” concrete, is being made in Milan by Hargett Materials, Inc.
And the future looks bright for Hargett, which is branching out with the production of cutting edge construction materials.
Hargett Materials, Inc., called HMI, is an offshoot of the Milan-based company, Pavement Restoration, Inc. and the brainchild of PRI President Jon Hargett. The home office of Pavement Restoration – HMI is on Stinson St. in Milan. Manufacturing facilities are also located in the Milan arsenal. About 100 people attended an open house at the firm’s main office Jan. 25.
PRI is licensed in seven southern states, and crews are doing road repair business across the country. Hargett’s wife, Kim is an engineer and CEO of PRI.
“We started PRI in 2006 from nothing,” said Mr. Hargett. “We had one employee and started fixing potholes. I had no idea I would be fixing potholes, but everybody’s got potholes that need repairing. That’s how we get in the door, and then we introduce people to our other services.”
PRI has about 120 employees in eight different companies doing work related to asphalt and concrete restoration and repair. HMI in Milan has expanded to about 60 employees.
“Nothing that I have is just because of my own making,” Hargett added. “It takes good people in multiple places to put things together. I believe in the little things along the way that often come back to playing a huge part of something that turns out to be successful with our companies.”
HMI in Milan is one of two sites in the U.S. making Elephant Armor, which is used in several countries to patch and repair walkways, bridges, parking facilities and industrial plants. A blend of different sands, Elephant Armor is produced and packaged at the A-50 site at Milan arsenal. The facility has 40,000 sq. ft. of outside space, and 40,000 sq. ft. of covered work space.
Jon Hargett describes Elephant Armor as “bendable concrete.” Called “the world’s most amazing cementitious patch and overlay product,” Elephant Armor can be placed on concrete, asphalt, steel, wood and structural foam. It is designed to limit catastrophic failure. The U.S. military has done usage tests for the product, and it is being used to repair airfields in Germany. The Tenn. Dept. of Transportation uses Elephant Armor to repair concrete bridges. It has also been used to repair sea walls and in light weight, cement pads for air conditioning units.
“We have different people looking at (Elephant Armor), and I think our global growth will be significant,” said Hargett. “A significant amount of testing has gone into it.”
Attending the Jan. 25 open house at PRI-HMI was Jim Glessner of California, president of Global Sealer Technologies (GST), maker of Elephant Armor in Nevada. He said Jon Hargett and his Milan company have great potential for expansion.
“Jon is a shaker and a mover,” said Glessner. “This product (Elephant Armor) could save the state of Tennessee hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Asked about Glessner’s remarks, Mr. Hargett said, “I think that a better way of saying that would be that ‘there are a lot places within our pavement infrastructure that the usage of Elephant Armor could save significant dollars repairing our roads, bridges, and sidewalks.’”
Hargett Materials is also producing a “shielding shotcrete” material for Omni Threat Sturctures (OTS). The firm builds structures that need shielded from intentional electromagnetic interference. OTS constructs protective structures for critical infrastructure facilities, power generating companies, military installations, and other vulnerable industries.
At the HMI facility on the old A-Line in the arsenal, approximately 50 train cars carrying iron ore were being unloaded. The ore is used in the OTS construction material.
The market for OTS shielded structures is increasing, and Hargett expects to add employees and equipment to meet the increased demand. Attending the Jan. 25 event was Peter Fedele of Miami, FL, CEO of OTS.
Hargett leaders are also looking into adding robots to help with the bagging-stacking system needed to produce OTS material. Robots can perform repetitive tasks that boost production by taking pressure off of employees. “Using robots will be a win-win arrangement all around,” said Steven Brasfield, Operations Manager. “We’re not replacing anyone. We can redeploy workers to do quality control oversight and other work.”
“Jon has changed the lives of people working for this company,” added Brasfield. “He is extremely smart. He’s provided good jobs and pays us well. He’s always looking two years down the road, and not just six months. He’s trying to keep the company strong and vibrant.”
“Our business has erupted. It didn’t just happen.”
“We strive to give our customers the highest quality products that we can,” Brasfield added. “And we provide excellent service. We try to go above and beyond what is expected.”
PRI and Hargett are also doing “full depth reclamation” work recycling asphalt and concrete from roadways for use in new construction. Materials like Calcitic Lime can be purchased directly at the PRI office site on Stinson Street.
“Because of our presence here in Milan for nearly twelve years now as PRI, most people thought that we only fix potholes,” said Jon Hargett last week. “That was our original, signature service. But our company has such a broader scope of services that we provide. We have a lot of great people that have believed in our vision and ability to do new things. I have tried to keep those additional things that we do related to asphalt and concrete preservation.
“Nearly everything that we do is related to pavements and pavement restoration and preservation,” added Hargett. “My people know, that when we look at a new way to do something, that it has been thought out and planned for a while, before we just ‘jump’ into things. I am proud of the commitment of our employees to provide quality and professionalism with everything that we bring to the public.”