Tens of millions of tons of shell, sand and road base have been mined over the years at Schroder-Manatee Ranch’s Aggregates operation.
SMR Aggregates sent 800,000 yards of fill dirt to build University Town Center mall.
When Tropicana had a glass bottle operation in Bradenton, it used sand from Lakewood Ranch. The same sand for making orange juice bottles also was shipped through Port Manatee to Central America and South America.
Other mining products from Lakewood Ranch have gone to beach restoration, to make concrete blocks and for swimming pool construction. It also has been sold to companies in Indiana, South Carolina, Louisiana and elsewhere.
Last year, SMR Aggregates ceased commercial sales, and this year it is winding up its operation by excavating road base for the roads the Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District is building in Sarasota County, including Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road, which will connect with Fruitville Road.
I got to see the whole thing blossom. It went from cattle and mining to homes, businesses and schools – a whole community.
Nancy Plank, the office manager at SMR Aggregates, on the development of Lakewood Ranch
SMR Aggregates might have ceased operations a couple of years earlier if not for the Great Recession, which brought local building to a standstill, said Eugene E. Henshaw Jr., president of SMR Aggregates.
“It’s all timing,” Henshaw said.
Henshaw began working in the mining operation in 1985, when it was owned by Wendell Kent and was known as Quality Aggregates. In 1997, SMR bought the operation.
SMR Aggregates has one active mining operation left, and Henshaw expects it will shut down around midyear.
SMR’s 2,000-acre Waterside community, now under construction in Sarasota County, is built around a series of lakes that were created by mining.
“I have walked across the bottom of every one of those,” Henshaw said of the Waterside lakes.
800,000Yards of fill dirt to build University Town Center mall, sent by SMR Aggregates
Nancy Plank, office manager at SMR Aggregates, has worked for the company for nearly 31 years. She will be retiring soon, but she says the development of Lakewood Ranch “has been a wonderful thing to see.”
“I got to see the whole thing blossom. It went from cattle and mining to homes, businesses and schools – a whole community,” Plank said.
SMR has been preparing for the end of mining for several years, and some long-time employees like Plank are retiring. Others will be assigned other jobs. No layoffs are anticipated.
“SMR takes a lot of pride in the people who work for them,” Henshaw said. “I have really good employees.”
The shell plant at SMR Aggregates has been sold and was being disassembled this week to be shipped to the new owner.
SMR already has started reclamation work on its last mining location, work that is being supervised by the state of Florida and local government in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
And what happens when the last mine closes?
“New homes will be built there,” Henshaw said.