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Black Lab Chardon: Committed to Custom Toll Blending Excellence

Black Lab Chardon: Committed to Custom Toll Blending Excellence

Meet Covia’s Black Lab Chardon team! Based in Chardon, Ohio, approximately 30 miles east of Cleveland, they specialize in custom toll blending for a variety of customers and industries. The Black Lab Chardon plant was established in 2001 and has gradually grown and increased production every year. The 59,000-square-foot facility initially processed a few hundred tons per month and now handles close to 30,000 tons per year. Black Lab Chardon’s 12-member team has decades of experience performing custom toll blending for various industries, from construction and foundries to bridge-decking and battery recycling.

Sourcing for Quality With Local and Global Partners

Black Lab Chardon is proud to source high-quality raw materials from both local and global partners and often collaborates with other Covia and Black Lab locations to ensure supply and maintain production schedules. Covia's BESTSAND facility is located in the vicinity of Chardon, while Covia's Wedron Silica plant in Wedron, Illinois, is situated near Black Lab's Serena plant. They are both key suppliers for many of the custom blends that Black Lab produces. The similarities between the capabilities of the Chardon and Serena facilities provide added supply chain flexibility and security, which customers appreciate. “We can handle production swings between the Chardon and the Serena plants since we both have easy access to the sands we source from Best Sand and Wedron Silica. This adaptability allows us to maintain production even if one plant is temporarily compromised by severe weather or any other complication,” said plant manager Kurt Krebs. For highly specialized custom blends, Black Lab works with global partners to procure high-quality materials from all over the world.

Safety First, Always: A Team That Cares

Safety is not just a priority; it’s a way of life at Black Lab Chardon. With a strong safety record of over two years without a lost-time incident, every member of the team is vigilant in upholding a culture based on “safety first before production,” where every team member goes home safely every night. Krebs, who started as an hourly employee in 2011, notes that the team holds monthly safety meetings but that safety discussions occur daily to review protocols and concerns related to day-to-day projects and challenges.

Blending with Precision to Ensure Black Lab Quality

The Black Lab Chardon plant is equipped with four paddle mixers and state-of-the-art weighing and packaging equipment. As is the case for all Black Lab facilities, custom blends are created to precisely meet customer specifications, and products are packaged directly from the mixer to ensure consistency across packages. Custom blends are packaged in bags, pails, boxes and drums, and the Black Lab team also provides labeling and package design support.

Team Unity and Expertise: The Backbone of Our Success

Long tenure and expertise define the Black Lab Chardon team, contributing to a continuity that translates to outstanding customer satisfaction. No matter if they’re on the floor or behind the scenes – from Eric Diate who is a shift leader, to Kyle Chunyo who keeps all the equipment running – each team member plays a crucial role.

Krebs is proud of his team and their commitment. “Right now, we have the best team we’ve ever had. Every project is genuinely a team effort.” He notes that the team’s open communication and air-it-out attitude help keep everyone on the same page, which has contributed to operational improvements. For example, when team members pointed out that switching storage silos for two raw materials would allow extra capacity, Krebs jumped on the idea. “It was a no-brainer and a real game-changer when it came to increasing our production potential. It’s that kind of result that shows the value of two-way communication, listening to our team members, and pushing improvements up the chain so that we can continue to grow and expand our capabilities,” he said.

Trial Run Testing Establishes Quality Control

The recently expanded lab facility at Black Lab Chardon allows in-house testing. A trial run of a new blend in the lab establishes how the blend should be handled, tested, packaged and shipped. Such trial runs help give new customers the highest degree of confidence while ensuring quality and consistency.

Sustainability and Community: Beyond the Factory Walls

Black Lab Chardon isn’t just about production; it’s also about making sustainable choices and respecting the environment. The facility continuously implements improvements to streamline operations and promote sustainability. These changes, from upgrading mixer hardware to improving dust collection methods, benefit Black Lab customers and the community.

The team works hard to keep the site clean and tidy and is especially conscientious about protecting the environment and nearby waterways. The plant is adjacent to the Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve, a 101-acre Geauga Country park built on land donated in memory of Walter C. Best, founder of Best Sand. The preserve features a 30-acre lake that serves as a habitat for various species of waterfowl and plants. Like Best, Black Lab Chardon’s team members enjoy spending time in nature.

Team members are also always willing to lend a hand. When the family of a regular delivery driver contacted Black Lab after hours because they could not reach him directly, Eric, the team’s crew leader, went back to the plant to make sure the driver was OK and helped him get in touch with his family members. “We maintain close relationships with each other, our service providers and customers. In many ways, it’s like a family, always happy to help one another out,” Krebs reported.

Contact Black Lab for Expert Toll Blending Support

If you have any questions about toll blending or our Chardon site, the toll-blending experts at Black Lab are available to help. You can rely on their decades of experience to provide you with the customer service and quality you deserve. Contact us today to discover what it’s like to work with a trusted and dependable custom toll blender.

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