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Experience a Day in the Life of an Ozinga Mine Manager

September 19, 2017

Although Ozinga is mostly recognized for our ready mix operations, we also provide compressed natural gas and bulk materials and logistics solutions to customers throughout the Midwest. For our materials and logistics operation, we have a mine in Henry, IL where we mine sand and gravel and are currently building a port on the Illinois River.

Our Henry operation relies heavily on the skilled professionals we have on our team, which includes our mine manager, Mark. Whether he’s running a loader or handling the day-to-day operations, our Mark helps ensure our operation runs efficiently. Experience a day in the life of Mark, our mine manager down in Henry.

If you would like to Trade Up to Ozinga, apply for one of our open positions today.

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The building industry tends to work year round, which means that concrete is poured and placed no matter the time of year. Although concrete can be placed in cold weather, certain precautions should be taken to ensure the job is handled properly. Take a look at the following six mistakes you want to avoid when placing concrete in cold weather.

Mistake #1: Placing on frozen ground.

If the ground is frozen or covered with ice or snow, you should not place your concrete. Frozen ground will settle as it thaws, which leaves your concrete susceptible to cracking. In addition, when wet concrete is placed on a cold surface, the concrete will set more slowly. This, too, can create cracking in the concrete.

Mistake #2: Allowing concrete to freeze.

Plastic concrete freezes at about 25° F and doing so can reduce its final strength by more than 50%. Therefore, it is important to keep fresh concrete from freezing until it reaches a compressive strength of at least 500psi.

It is very important to protect the concrete and keep it as warm as possible (at least 50° F). This can be accomplished with thermal blankets or through the use of heaters.

Mistake #3: Improperly using heaters.

In order to keep concrete at least 50° F, it’s a good idea to use heaters. However, if you use these heaters incorrectly, you could cause a large amount of damage. For instance, if you’re using a fuel-fired heater, be sure that it is properly ventilated. If not, the carbon dioxide given off in the exhaust can create a chemical reaction called carbonation, which can cause the surface of the concrete to become weak and dusty.

Mistake #4: Using cold materials.

Aside from ensuring that the concrete and ground are warm enough, it’s also important to ensure additional building materials are also warm. For instance, any forms, embedments, or tools being used during the concrete placing should be warmed up to at least 32° F.

Mistake #5: Misjudging daylight.

During the winter months, daylight seems to leave as quickly as it appears. If you are running behind schedule, you should end up losing out on the daylight you need to complete the job. Always be sure to try and schedule your concrete pours during the day. Not only does this give you an ample amount of light, but it also allows for a warmer temperature. If you will be forced to place concrete before the sun rises or after it sets, be sure you have plenty of lights and heaters on hand.

Mistake #6: Sealing when it’s too cold.

Most concrete contractors will either seal the concrete after it has cured or will recommend sealing to the customer. While sealing concrete offers plenty of benefits, it shouldn’t be done if the temperature is less than 50° F. If you are placing concrete in cold weather, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations before sealing.

Ozinga has experience pouring concrete in different weather conditions. If you are interested in pouring when the temperature has dropped, talk to one of our concrete specialists first.

Since there are so many materials you can use in your yard, it is often hard to determine which one is the right choice. If you want something that looks nice and is both versatile and economical, you should feast your eyes on gravel. With many different sizes and colors to choose from, there are so many great uses for gravel. Take a look at five ways you can use it to add some curb appeal to your home.

1. Landscaping

Instead of using mulch or traditional topsoil for around your flowers, why not consider gravel? There are many different types of gravel that will add color and dimension to your landscaping. Proper gravel placement also prevents weeds. Plus, it also provides the right amount of drainage, which can help ensure your foliage constantly looks its best.

2. Dog Run

If you’re tired of Fido ruining your yard, consider building a dog run. These areas offer a safe and fun place for your dogs to enjoy the outside. You can use different materials and designs to build your dog run, but using pea gravel, limestone or gravel chips, or screenings is a great idea for the base. These gravel products are soft on your dog’s paws, provide the right drainage, and make it easy to clean up.

3. Driveways

Although some homeowners will opt for a concrete or asphalt driveway, using gravel is still a great option. CM11 ¾” crushed gravel is a perfect choice. Not only is it durable, but it’s also available in various colors to give your yard some curb appeal.

4. Patios/Walkways

In addition to driveways, gravel patios and walkways are another great way to use gravel. Gravel adds some dimension to the space and can break up the color scheme throughout your yard. Plus, it provides the right amount of drainage and can last for a very long time.

5. Subbase

Although you won’t see gravel if it’s used as subbase, it’s still the perfect choice for paver projects. Gravel provides the right type of stability to keep your pavers in place, and it also ensures proper drainage.

Instead of opting for the same landscaping ideas you’ve been using for years, why not switch things up with gravel? From landscaping to dog runs, there are plenty of ways you can use gravel throughout your yard.

For more landscaping ideas, download our decorative landscaping guide.

Concrete is one of those products that has its own set of terminology. If you’re new to the industry, understanding the basic terms can help you find success while on the job or working with the building material. The following is a concrete glossary for you to use as a reference.


A chemical substance added to a concrete mix that increases the rate of hydration and increases the set time.


Sand, rock, crushed stone, or any material that enhances concrete’s structural performance.

Bleed water (bleeding)

Water that rises to the surface of freshly placed concrete.

Bull float

A tool comprised a large flat rectangular blade that is used in the finishing process of concrete.


Concrete is a building material made from a combination of cement, aggregate and water.

Control (or contraction) joint

A man-made groove in a concrete slab used to help control the location of cracking.


Very small, random cracks found in the surface of concrete due to shrinkage (non-structural).

Cubic Yard

Unit of measure for ready mix concrete.


The process that protects concrete from moisture loss by maintaining a saturated surface.

Curing compound

A liquid that is applied to the surface of newly placed concrete to retard the evaporation of water.

Decorative concrete

Concrete that includes color, texture, pattern, or a combination of treatments.

Fiber-reinforced concrete (FRC)

Concrete containing fibrous material which increases its structural integrity. It contains short discrete fibers that are uniformly distributed and randomly oriented.


Working the surface of newly placed concrete in order to achieve the desired appearance.

Fly ash

A supplementary cementitious material used to make concrete.


A project’s ground level or elevation.

Integral color

A coloring agent mixed into fresh concrete before placement.

Penetrating sealer

A sealer that penetrates the concrete’s surface in order to repel moisture.

Pervious concrete

Pervious concrete is a special type of concrete that allows water to pass through it.


The physical movement of concrete from the mixer into the final location where it is to harden and cure.

Polished concrete

A high-gloss finish attained by using special floor polishers.

Portland cement

Cement is a combination of finely ground materials that is used to make concrete. It is the main ingredient that causes concrete to harden.

Ready-mixed concrete

Concrete that is batched or mixed at a plant before delivery to the job site for placement.


A steel reinforcing rod in concrete.


The flaking of a hardened concrete surface, typically due to freezing and thawing.


A liquid-based material used to protect the surface of concrete.


A measure of consistency of freshly mixed concrete, as determined by the distance the concrete displaces after a molded specimen is removed from a funnel-shaped cone.

Stamped concrete

Concrete that is patterned to resemble materials such as brick, slate, stone, tile, and wood planking.

Ozinga is a trusted name when it comes to concrete and concrete products. Whether you’re looking to order ready mix or are in need of a concrete add on, our concrete specialists can help. Contact us today.

Crushed stone is a versatile product that has many uses, from base material for pavers to decorating landscapes. If you have dealt with crushed stone in the past, you likely noticed that there are different grades (sizes) associated with it. These grades are determined based on the size of the stone after it has been crushed, and they let you know the best applications for the specific stone. It is important to note that some gradations will have a range of stone sizes in that particular gradation. For example, a CA11 or CA7 (generally ¾”) gradation may include individual stone sizes of 1” down to ½”.

When you’re shopping for crushed stone, it’s handy to know what the different grades mean. The information below provides a general overview to help you choose the right material for your project.


Crushed stone #1 is the largest of the crushed stone grades and includes stone that is between 2-4 inches. This materials is great for larger jobs or for filling in larger holes.


Crushed stone #3 includes stone between 1/2 and 2 inches. This material is a great choice for railroad projects and those that require drainage.


Crushed stone #5 includes stone that is 1 inch or smaller in size. This material is perfect for road and paver base.


Crushed stone #8 includes stone between 3/8” and ½”. This is the most common stone used for concrete mixes.


Crushed stone #10 is known as screenings or dust. This material is used to create pavers and concrete blocks.


Crushed stone #57 refers to stone that is about ¾”. This is typically used for concrete mix, landscaping and drainage.


Crushed stone #67 includes stone that is ¾” or smaller in size. This is a great material for road and slab base as well as fill.

If you’re interested in a specific type of crushed stone for your project, contact Ozinga’s materials experts today to fulfill your needs.

Take a moment and picture a concrete slab. Did you picture a gray block of material? It’s true that most concrete driveways, patios and walkways will stick with the traditional gray, but concrete can be so much more attractive and exciting when you add some color.

In order to color your concrete, you have two options: integrally colored concrete and topical color. Both of these will add the right aesthetics to your concrete, but they’re not created equal. If you really want the best color, you’re better off with integrally colored concrete vs topical color, and here’s why.

Consistent Look

Integrally colored concrete is mixed in with the concrete before it’s poured. Because of this, you will have the same color throughout the concrete. If you were to experience a chip, the same color would still show below. If you used a topical color, this color would only be found on the top layer of concrete. If you experienced a chip or crack, the gray concrete would show, and this would create an eyesore.

Since topical color needs to be applied after, there is also no way to guarantee that the color will be spread evenly over the entire slab. Because of this, it’s possible that you will end up with uneven color, and this can be very unattractive after the concrete has cured.

Less Mess

Since integrally colored concrete is mixed in with the concrete before being poured, it’s less messy. Nothing has to be done on site in order to achieve the desired color. Instead, it’s all done ahead of time at the plant. Topical color needs to be applied after the concrete is poured. This creates more dust and more of a mess at the jobsite, which makes for more cleanup.


Mixing the color in with the concrete first is much easier to do than applying a topical color after the concrete has been poured. After all, this is something that is done when the concrete is being mixed at the plant, so it’s not the responsibility of the contractor or homeowner. Topical color is applied manually once the concrete has been placed. This just adds another responsibility to the homeowner’s or contractor’s plate.

Opting for integrally colored concrete is a great choice for your concrete project. It provides you with a clean and consistent look, and it’s very easy to implement. Ozinga offers integrally colored concrete as an option. Download our decorative concrete guide to see how else we can add some excitement to your next concrete project.

Working with exterior flatwork requires a great deal of planning, and if you’re tackling your own DIY concrete project, you need to ensure you’re fully prepared. Not only should you know how much concrete you need, but you will also want to make sure you properly prepare your subgrade. After all, if your subgrade isn’t prepared properly, it could ruin your entire concrete project. Since you don’t want the headache—or the cost—of redoing your concrete, follow these tips to properly prepare your subgrade.

Clear the area.

Before you start any concrete project, you need to be sure you have a clear area. Make sure you know the depth of your concrete project, and then remove soil, organic materials, rocks or other items in the area. Be sure to remove enough so that the final area of your concrete will sit slightly above ground.


Unless you are pouring on virgin clay, the area will need to be backfilled with either sand, gravel or crushed stone. This will help deliver an even pour and provide strength to your concrete. Make sure that you level the backfill to a uniform depth of at least 4 inches.

Compact the subgrade.

Compacting the subgrade is very important. Depending on the size of your project, you can compact the area with either a heavy hand tamper or a vibrating compactor. The subgrade should be hard, uniform, and well drained. Failure to properly compact the subgrade will lead to cracking.


Using forms will help provide you with a clean and uniform concrete flatwork and will help determine the final grade of the concrete. It is recommended that you set your grade with a slight slope (at least 1/8-inch) so that water does not puddle on the slab. Use a string line and level to set your grade at the slab’s surface. Place stakes in the ground no more than 4 feet apart so that the face of the stake squares up with the string line. You should have a stake at every joint too.

Use the right lumber to create your forms and raise them so that the top is even and level with the string line. Once even, nail them to the stakes. Keep in mind that wet concrete can break a form, so you may want to consider bracing the form for added durability.

Once the forms are in place, your subgrade is complete and ready for the concrete pour.

Ozinga has plenty of tips and tricks for those looking to tackle concrete projects. Check out our homeowner’s guide for more information on concrete projects.

Whether you have a large concrete driveway or a small concrete patio, you want to extend the life of the flatwork and keep it looking great for a long time. Knowing how to maintain concrete can be the difference between concrete that grabs attention versus concrete that people are scared to walk on. Thankfully, maintaining concrete is a simple task that you can handle on your own.

Clean your concrete.

If you want to keep your concrete looking good, you need to clean it. Cleaning your concrete can help remove dirt and debris and give the final form an attractive look. There are different ways to clean concrete, so find the option that makes the most sense for your specific need.

Seal your concrete.

Sealing your concrete can help extend the life and keep it looking great. There are different types of concrete sealers available. Topical sealers can be applied to the surface of the concrete every few years in order to prevent staining and surface damage. Always be sure to seal the concrete according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Remove stains immediately.

Although your concrete sealer will help protect your concrete, it’s still a good idea to clean stains and spills from concrete as soon as they happen. For example, if you notice that your car leaked oil on your concrete driveway, clean the oil from the driveway as soon as possible. This will help prevent any discoloration or staining from occurring, which will help your concrete look better.

Limit your weight.

Concrete is a very strong and durable material, but residential concrete pours are not designed to hold extremely heavy materials. For example, while your driveway is perfectly capable of handling the weight of your everyday vehicle, it’s not equipped to handle heavy machinery or oversized vehicles like delivery trucks or moving trucks. Make sure these vehicles remain on the street and keep heavy machinery somewhere other than your driveway in order to maintain the life of your concrete.

Avoid the wrong chemicals.

It’s very important that you refrain from using certain chemicals on your concrete. For example, certain deicers can actually work through the sealer and harm the concrete. Fertilizers can also stain your concrete, so be sure to remove any excess or spillage from your concrete right away. You should also be sure to use a cleaner specific to concrete, as some household products may do more harm than good. Make sure to thoroughly read instructions and disclaimers on products before using on concrete.

Appropriately maintaining your concrete can ensure you have a good-looking slab for an extended period of time. Ozinga offers a variety of concrete products to help maintain your slab. Take a look at our product offerings today.

Your dog (or dogs – if you operate a shelter or rescue operation) may be a member of your family or your ultimate best friend, but when curiosity gets the best of them, they can wreak havoc on your yard or facility. Instead of patching grass, replanting flowers, or constantly watching where you’re walking to avoid stepping in a doggy disaster, why not give your perfect pooch a place of his own?

Dog runs allow both you and your dog to enjoy your yard. This way, you can have the plushy green grass and the beautiful flower garden without worrying about Fido making a mess of it all. At the same time, your dog will also enjoy having his privacy in an area built just for him. If you are considering a dog run, be sure to use the following tips and tricks.

1. Determine the size.

The size of your dog run is very important. Remember that your dog still needs plenty of exercise, so be sure it’s big enough for them to run around and play. Deciding on the size will also depend on the size of your dog. Smaller dogs need smaller runs, so a dog run for a Miniature Schnauzer can be smaller than a dog run for a Great Dane.

2. Decide where it’s going.

When determining the size of the dog run, you should also consider its placement. Maybe having it in the back corner of the yard seems ideal at first, but will you want to walk outside in the winter to put your dog in the run? It’s a good idea to try and place it somewhere with easy access, like right outside a garage or porch. This way, you can easily let your dog in and out of the run.

There are other things to consider about the location. For instance, does that area get too much water during rainfall? If so, you’ll need to build up this part of the yard and add drainage. Drainage is very important in a project like this—materials could wash away if not done correctly. Is the area right next to a grouchy neighbor? If so, you may want to consider placing it on the other side of your yard to avoid complaints. Be sure to consider all the variables when determining where it’s going.

3. Make sure there’s plenty of shade.

You wouldn’t want to be sitting outside in the bright sun all day long without any shade, and neither does your dog. When building a dog run, you either need to make sure the area is in a naturally shaded area, or you need to plan on providing some type of shade, such as a roof, a dog house, or even an umbrella. This way, your dog has the option of basking in the sunlight or getting out of the heat.

4. Choose the right materials.

Picking the right materials is important for your dog run. Some people make the mistake of using grass, and while it’s cheap, it’s also messy, and you’ll find yourself replacing it at least once a year. Instead, you should consider a stone like pea gravel, limestone or gravel chips, as well as screenings as the base of the dog run. These materials are not only soft on your dog’s paws, but it also provides the right amount of drainage needed for the area.

You should also be sure you’re choosing sturdy materials for the sides. Many dog owners opt for chain link fencing, but any type of fence-like material should do.

When choosing materials, it’s also very important that you accurately measure how much material you will need. If you plan on using pea gravel or another aggregate, our materials calculator can help ensure you get the right quantity.

5. Fill it with amenities.

You love your dog, so feel free to spoil him in his dog run. Give him a dog house with a comfortable bed where he can lay and take a nap. Buy an automatic dog water bowl that hooks up to an outside spicket and provides your pooch with fresh water all the time. Remember that it’s your dog and your dog run, so you can customize it in any way you wish.

Ozinga has a large choice of stone, gravel and other aggregate material on hand. If you’re looking to build a dog run, let our materials experts help you.

Midwest summers can be excruciating, but hot weather can be found all over the US. While the warm weather may be optimal for swimming and spending time outside, it can affect the way you pour concrete. Before you let the hot weather wreak havoc on your concrete project, be sure you fully understand how to pour concrete in hot weather.

Plan pours during cooler parts of the day.

The temperature of concrete plays an important role in its quality and overall aesthetics. In order to avoid any hot-weather-related issues, try to schedule your concrete work during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or later at night. Although you may need to adjust your project schedule, doing this can actually keep your project running on time because you avoid any temperature-related issues.

Discharge trucks quickly.

The higher temperatures result in quicker set times, so if you’re not prepared, you could end up with unusable concrete or a bad pour. When the weather is hot, make sure that you discharge the trucks quickly. Be sure that you have plenty of people on hand to unload the concrete and handle the job in a timely manner. Remember that the hotter it is, the less time you have to place the concrete. It may cost you more in labor, but it’s worth not having to pay for new concrete.

Use shade.

If you can block the sun from the concrete, you can decrease the temperature and make it easier for you to unload. Consider erecting temporary sunshades in the area where you’re working with concrete. This will keep the sun away from the concrete, which can cool its surface temperature.

Use retarders.

Higher temperatures can cause water to quickly evaporate from the surface of the concrete. This results in a quicker set time. To combat this, some people add more water to the mix, but this lowers the water/cement ratio, which adversely affects the strength of the concrete.

Instead of adding water, use retarders or hydration stabilizers to maintain the moisture level in the concrete mix. This will keep water from evaporating without altering the water/cement ratio.

Use ice or chillers.

Keeping your concrete at a cooler temperature can also be done by using ice or chillers. These will typically cost more, but it can help you place concrete in hot weather without any issue.

Knowing how to pour concrete in hot weather can keep your project running on time. Contact us today to schedule concrete for your next pour.