Bill Van Sandt – The Story of His Career With Graniterock – Part 2

Posted by Rose Ann Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015

Bill Van Sandt’s career at Graniterock spanned nearly 50 years of the Company’s history. In a 2008 interview, Bill recalled his experiences as a driver in Santa Cruz during the 1950’s and later as manager of the Santa Cruz Branch of Graniterock. This is the second of a two part story of his career, and tells about his early years delivering concrete in the Santa Cruz area.

Bill drove a mixer truck until 1958, and then began work as Assistant Manager of the Santa Cruz Branch. He remembered in 1959 hiring Bill Grossi, “probably the best mechanic the company ever had”, who would sometimes work all night to keep their fleet of trucks operating. “When we were working on the harbor, we might have two or three trucks with their rear ends out. I’d go down at midnight or 1 AM, checking to be sure he wasn’t hurt, or something hadn’t fallen on him.”

In 1956, the plant at Chestnut and Jenne was relocated to a 27 acre site on 17th Avenue at Capitola Road. This is where, beginning in 1962, 900 concrete tripods were formed for use as a breakwater for the construction of the Santa Cruz Harbor. To form each “jack”, which weighed 26 tons apiece, 13 and ¼ yards of concrete were poured into a metal mold.  The plant poured eight per day, and they were allowed to set for a week. Then they were trucked on a low boy, one by one, to the harbor where they were set into place.

In 1964, the 17th Avenue property was taken for construction of a new Live Oak Elementary School, so the branch moved again, this time to its present location on Coral Street. Bill was manager of this plant, and beginning in the 1970’s also managed the Watsonville Branch.

In 1969, while still in high school, Bruce W. Woolpert worked for Bill over the summer vacation.  Bruce remembered  Bill as “an outstanding human being who cared deeply about the values of hard work, honesty, caring for customer needs, knowing how to get along with customers - even the difficult personalities.”

Bill retired in 1990, but not completely. He continued with the Company for another five years, working on special projects until 1995, when he ended his career with Graniterock in order to devote more time to some of his favorite pastimes. When Bill’s ready-mix truck was fully restored in 2008, he was the first to drive it into the yard. He stood proudly for photos with the truck and sat down to enjoy a barbecue lunch with Santa Cruz Branch Team Members who had worked with him in the past, and new Team Members who had heard of his long career and many accomplishments.

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