Bryan Smith stands at the edge of the high ground at mining company Luck Stone’s flagship location just outside Richmond, Virginia. He’s looking out at a massive quarry — one that’s about 37 stories deep and more than a half-mile wide.
“So this is our Boscobel Plant. It was begun about 1879,” Smith begins, sweeping his arm across the panoramic view. He explains the history of the quarry Luck Stone acquired in 1930, points to the treeline where it ends, and mentions the equipment they use — giant, heavy loaders and haul trucks that, from the vantage point above, don’t look so big.
As he talks, Smith’s pride in the family-run mining company where he works as mine development and blasting manager is evident. It’s the company he’s worked for since he graduated from Virginia Tech in 1979 with his bachelor’s degree in mining engineering.
But when Smith came to the company nearly 40 years ago, he didn’t forget about Virginia Tech. Early into his career with Luck Stone, Smith saw the intersection of the company and the university from which his father, he, and his son graduated.
Smith was the first graduate of Virginia Tech’s mining and minerals engineering department to go into aggregate mining. At the time, the up-and-coming field — focused on mining coarse- to medium-grained material such as that used in sand, gravel, concrete, and other construction — was not a priority in the department.
As Smith’s career in aggregate mining took off, he saw an opportunity to bring Virginia Tech along.