From simple beginnings 50 years ago in Saluda, Rappahannock Concrete Corporation has grown into a large regional operation that’s been headquartered at White Marsh for many years. The company will hold a 50th anniversary celebration next spring.
Founder John L. "Zeke" Finney of Gloucester, started his business on Sept. 11, 1961, having purchased the ready-mixed concrete operation at Saluda that was part of Richmond-based Ruffin & Payne. He previously operated heavy equipment while in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He later worked for the Virginia Department of Highways and then was plant supervisor for a Roanoke concrete business.
"It was a lot of hard work," Finney said of the early years. Then, he drove a concrete mixer truck, with two other drivers handling the other mixers. They handled 94-lb. bags of cement, which he said felt awfully heavy on a hot day. Zeke’s wife, Sarah, has helped with the business for many years.
Their fleet now includes 30 cement mixer trucks, with other vehicles bringing its total to 75. The handful of employees has grown to 60.
The early trucks had a separate engine to operate the mixing apparatus, unlike today’s high-tech mixer equipment which has been computerized since the late 1980s.
Scott Finney of Ware Neck, Zeke’s son, has worked in the family business for many years (after working for Ferguson Enterprises) and became its president in 2001. "I grew up with it," Scott said of the company, stating he’s handled many positions with Rappahannock.
"You want to be within 30-40 miles of your work," Scott said of being able to provide fresh concrete for constructing buildings, driveways and other uses. To accomplish that, Rappahannock has expanded through the years and now has facilities at White Marsh (opened just a couple years after Zeke started his business), Glenns, White Stone, New Kent and Newport News. Scott said they serve clients throughout the Middle Peninsula, Peninsula and Northern Neck.
Rappahannock has purchased land in Hampton, Scott said, where they hope to open another plant in a few years.
Scott said they also operate Rappahannock Masonry Supply, a division of the parent company, also based at White Marsh.