As a kid, Francis “Hall” Chaney III liked playing with dirt.
That hasn’t changed for the 34-year-old president of Chaney Enterprises, a Gambrills-based supplier of ready-mix concrete, sand, gravel, stone, blended soils and other construction materials.
“We grow up, and people tell us that’s not the type of job we should have,” Chaney said. “First of all, that’s insane. I’m proud to say we have some of the highest-paying jobs in Maryland.
“I would also tell you,” he added, “it’s downright fun.”
When Chaney’s grandfather, Eugene Chaney, founded the firm in 1962, it was a small Southern Maryland supplier of sand, gravel and concrete. In the last nearly six decades, Chaney Enterprises has expanded its products and its reach: It now employs 600 workers — 500 of them Marylanders — at 37 locations, Chaney said.
Chaney, a Key School and University of Maryland graduate, grew up around the family business and worked there during college, but he said his father never pressured him to join it.
After a stint at a contracting company, he returned to Chaney Enterprises in 2006, working for a decade in various roles in land development, operations and sales before being promoted to executive vice president, and then president.
Working in the different departments gave him a deep understanding of the company, he said. He maintains it with regular visits to dozens of locations and sharing the company’s financial information with all employees.
“Our industry breeds a deep commitment, because it is really hard work,” he said. “We’re selling perishable product, mobile-ly manufacturing a perishable product that will literally harden in our trucks if we don’t deliver it in a certain amount of time.”
The company mines its raw materials, then transports them, mostly by truck, to construction sites across the Mid-Atlantic region.
In 2015, Chaney Enterprises began moving materials by barge to sites such as the Tradepoint Atlantic redevelopment in southeast Baltimore County’s Sparrows Point, the longtime home of a now-demolished steel mill.
Last year, the company expanded its facility in Waldorf and opened a railroad between there and Northwest Virginia, to take its bluestone south and its sand and gravel north.
“We’re strategically focused on finding innovative ways to move our products,” Chaney said.
People might detest seeing passing dump trucks full of gravel, but many of those same people come into contact with Chaney Enterprises materials every day when they walk down a street or into a building made from them, Chaney said.
It isn’t the sexiest of industries, he said, but it carries a lot of pride for those who work in it.