President Don Stewart and his sons founded Houston-based Stewart Builders in 1993. Through main subsidiaries Keystone Concrete Placement and Keystone Structural Concrete, this family-run business started out as a residential construction contractor servicing the Houston area. Although the company’s 11-pump fleet allows the contractor to offer services in everything from residential , to paving, to structural concrete, Keystone takes pride in their position as one of the Houston area’s leading tilt-up contractors.

Rodney Horn, Vice President of Keystone’s Concrete Placement division, says this efficient, economical form of construction has become popular in circles well outside of the commercial realm. “Developers and project owners are realizing the benefits of tilt up in everything from schools, churches and retail buildings in addition to industrial warehouses,” Horn says.

According to Horn, utilizing the tilt-up method on many projects has become common practice in lieu of wood or metal building structures. The trend spread to areas of Texas, and now supplies Keystone with an estimated 20 percent of their annual earnings.

“When you compare them to wood framed or metal buildings, they’re much more resilient when it comes to the elements,” says Horn. “And maintenance wise, there aren’t as many concerns attached to tilt-up. They hold up well and typically gain higher resale value than their counterparts.”

The same concept applies to tilt-up warehouses, distribution plants, and retail establishments.

A prime example of this is the contractor’s work on the new Silver Eagle Distribution Center. Crews are currently busy at work constructing the new temperature controlled, 160,000-square foot plant in the heart of Houston.

Keystone’s site work division completed excavation and dirt moving before the S 45 SX went to work pouring 3400 yards of concrete into the structure’s floor. The contractor elected to reinforce the slab with 34 pounds of steel fiber per yard in place of conventional rebar. The pumps handled the on-site metal fiber concrete mix with no problems.

Equipped with a 2525H-6 pump kit and Rock Valve, the pump easily completed eight total slab pours. “All of the pours went smoothly without incident,” says Horn. “The pump didn’t have one problem processing the fiber mix.”

“This is just one instance that illustrates how priceless these pumps are to our operation,” says Horn. “To be able to reinforce the concrete without the use of rebar was a huge benefit to us and the customer. We didn’t have to bother with the economic and time concerns involved with iron workers and materials,” says Horn.

Keystone also provided pumped concrete for the structure’s interior and exterior Thermomass insulated wall panels. The wall panels will retain the effects of several electric coolers necessary to keep alcoholic beverages fresh for distribution.

First, one of Keystone’s 11 pumps is brought in to pour the first section of the wall, a 2.5-inch thick lift. While the concrete is still wet, crews install plastic “wedges” into the concrete, allowing them to secure a 3-inch thick piece of foam insulation on top of the lift. The wall and additional foam are allowed to set. Keystone returns with the pump to pour a final 9.5-inch layer over the foam. This Thermomass method creates an insulated 15-inch thick wall that will supply the plant with a thermos-like property. A 250-ton crane provided by Big 4 Erectors, Houston, TX, was used to set the insulated tilt wall panels in place.

In addition to the plant’s floor and tilt-up panels, Keystone is also responsible for paving the establishment’s parking lots, driveways and thoroughfares. In all, Keystone will pump a total 18,000 yards of concrete for the plant.

As was the case with the Silver Eagle Distribution Plant, Keystone’s pumps allow them to manage the building and paving in one complete package. The new Conroe Movie Theater just outside of Houston in Conroe, TX provides a perfect example of the company’s far-reaching capabilities.

Featuring 14 individual theaters with stadium seating, the interior and exterior walls of the Conroe Theater require a total 5500 yards of concrete. With all of the walls erected and braced, Keystone brought in one of their 42-meter concrete pumps to complete several small mezzanine pours. Once the structure is completed, Keystone will utilize a member of their long boom fleet to place 5500 yards of concrete into the theater’s parking lot.

Vice President Mark Stewart says increasing opportunities in paving job such as the theater parking lot have prompted the company to invest in longer booms since their first pump purchase in 1996. “The efficiency and time benefits of the long booms are priceless to our operation,” says Stewart. “When we utilize a 126-foot long boom, we setup once and can make hug pours without moving the pump,” says Stewart.

In the beginning, Keystone made its mark as a key player in the residential and commercial tilt up markets, but continued to subcontract out all of the pumping work. The firm soon recognized the potential benefits to bringing it in-house. “Purchasing our own pumps just made sense,” said Stewart Builders Vice President Mark Stewart. “There were no two ways about it – we could only improve on our customer service and our products by managing the pumping as well.”

So in August of 1996, another member of the Stewart clan, Keystone equipment purchaser Craig Stewart, turned to Schwing America’s factory store in Carrollton, TX for the purchase of their very first concrete pump – a KVM 28 X. “Through renting pumps, we had an idea of what would best suit our operation,” says Stewart. “We had already compared and contrasted the outputs and performance features that were important to our jobs, and Schwing was the obvious choice for us.”

Not to mention the reliability factor. “We’ve traded in pumps and purchased new pumps over the years – but the 28-meter is still on a job every single day,” says Stewart.

The purchase benefited the firm so much, that in December of the same year, Keystone upped the ante and took delivery on a 32 XL. Three months later, they doubled down on another 32-meter pump from Schwing.

Since then, the company has expanded their fleet by adding one 36-meter, two KVM 39 X, one 41-meter, and three S 45 SX boom pumps. Keystone also utilizes one BPA 500 trailer-mounted pump in tight set up conditions.

“The concrete pumps provide us the ability to integrate several services into one package, and our customers appreciate that,” says Horn. “To boot, we’ve got great management, good, quality superintendents, and the right philosophy about business,” says Horn. “Our experience, knowledge and approach to each project supplies us with a lot of repeat business.”