In 1965, William W. “Billy” Cooke, a young Assistant Cashier at Southside Bank, had the opportunity to purchase an existing concrete company in his hometown of Tappahannock, Virginia. Mr. Rowe, of E.P. Rowe Concrete, was retiring and looking for a buyer. Billy, being an entrepreneur decided to give the concrete business a try. The business consisted of an early 1950’s manual batch plant without a cement silo. All cement was delivered by tractor trailer in bags, unloaded by hand and then loaded into the mixers, also by hand. The business started with only two mixer trucks and four employees (one of which was his wife Betty Anne).
Growth began in 1976 when Billy bought a site in Aylett, and erected his second concrete plant. Around this time both of Billy’s sons, Keith and Kent, became full-time employees of Essex Concrete and were destined to follow in their father’s footsteps. In 1978, Billy purchased land and built a sand and gravel plant across the Mattaponi River from Aylett. Operation of this plant began in 1979 and was named Aylett Sand & Gravel. Mortar sand, concrete sand, and washed gravels are mined and sold to a number of locations across the state of Virginia through this location. Aylett Sand & Gravel supplies products for a diverse number of needs and customers. A variety of gravel is available for driveway needs, as well as landscaping, riprap for shorelines, concrete, mortar, and asphalt sand. The concrete plant in Aylett was moved in 1982 to the current Aylett Sand & Gravel Plant site. Concrete is sold and delivered from this location to areas from Tappahannock to Mechanicsville, and West Point to Hanover Courthouse.
The company is continuing to expand and has become a key producer across the Richmond area supplying concrete for shopping centers, schools, office buildings, subdivisions, and residential projects. In 1999, the Rockville plant was established, providing service from Gum Springs to Richmond, and Powhatan to Louisa. In 2004, the Bottoms Bridge plant was purchased to provide service from Prince George to Mechanicsville, and Williamsburg to Chesterfield. Two years later, the existing plant at Bottoms Bridge was replaced with a new batching plant. The company continues to extend its reach and in 2012 Essex Concrete purchased a plant in Doswell offering its products to areas from Ashland to Fredericksburg, and Louisa to Hanover Courthouse.
The Aylett Sand & Gravel Plant implemented a new hydro-clean plant (a high-pressure washer for gravel) to improve gravel cleaning and provide a higher quality product for its customers in late 2012. A sixth plant was opened in February of 2014 in Powhatan (Flat Rock) to provide services and materials from Cumberland to Richmond and Amelia to Short Pump. Our seventh and newest plant, in Prince George (Petersburg), was purchased in May 2014 and provides services and material from Blackstone to Surry and Richmond to Stony Creek.
To help satisfy the growing needs of our customers, we have expanded our business to include three concrete pump trucks (Pumpcrete™) to reach areas not accessible to a standard concrete mixer truck. Essex Concrete manufactures quality concrete products such as; parking bumpers, well curbs, distribution boxes and septic tanks. We also have two trucks for delivery of septic tanks, three septic tank pump trucks, and a licensed, experienced crew for all your septic installation and repair needs.
Despite our ever-growing service area, we continue to be family-owned and operated. Not only is the company now being run by Billy’s sons: Keith – President, and Kent – Vice President; but also the employees of Essex Concrete are considered part of the Cooke family! We all have the same ideals in mind: to provide our customers with the best possible product. Our motto is “We dry harder,” however, we also live by another motto: “We try harder” – meaning that we try our hardest to satisfy our customers. William W. “Billy” Cooke and his wife Betty Anne are still to this day the pillars of Essex Concrete Corporation and believe in the vision of providing quality product from a family owned and operated business.