Business owner finds the right fit in Columbiana

COLUMBIANA – Jerry Stoneburner was in the right place at the right time when he bought 95 acres along Esterly Drive at a bankruptcy auction in 2004, Terry McCoy, Columbiana Chamber Director, said.

McCoy recognized Stoneburner and his business, Buckeye Transfer Realty, LLC at the Chamber’s annual Fall Showcase Thursday evening.

Stoneburner is president and CEO of the company near state Route 11 that is a hub for the transportation and storage of sand used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

The sand is sent to the company on the Norfolk Southern railroad from a Texas-based producer whose parent company is Fairmount Minerals in Chardon, Ohio.

Buckeye is contracted with Fairmount for the transportation operations.

The sand is then unloaded from the cars and loaded onto semi trucks for transportation to drillers in the Utica shale.

“We are doing quite well now. We happened to be in the perfect spot for oil and gas … location, location, location,” Stoneburner said.

Just last month the company sent out 16 truck loads of frack sand, for a total weight of 72 million pounds, or 32,000 tons.

“It’s quite an operation,” he said.

He also said the company can handle growth in the industry and is prepared to store and transport more sand as it comes in, as there is space available at the facility west of town where the former Kaiser Refractory operated.

From there, the sand is hauled to places in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The company also last month shipped out 102 tank loads of oil that came in from a processor in Butler, Pa. The oil was shipped to refineries in the Gulf Coast, Stoneburner said.

Buckeye is contracted with Centennial Energy LLC for the oil and Centennial is a wholly-owned subsidiary of High Sierra Energy, a major oil and gas marketer.

Stoneburner said Buckeye only recently contracted with an Ohio company to store 75,000 tons of limestone that will be used to repair roads traveled by the company installing a new 345-kilovolt (KV) transmission line from FirstEnergy’s Bruce Mansfield Plant in Beaver County, Pa., to a new substation in the Cleveland suburb of Glenwillow.

Another new venture for the company is the storage of an absorbent used by drilling companies to solidify mud that comes up out of the ground during the drilling process, he said.

“Whenever they drill for oil they have mud coming up and it’s pretty wet and they have to solidify it,” he said.

The company is still working to extend its rail spur, which was at 2,500 feet when Stoneburner purchased the property. It is currently up to 7,500 feet and should be at more than 15,000 feet when completed, he said.

The extension is so more railcars can be housed there, he explained.

Railcars are housed on the spur until they can be picked up by the next available train.

Stoneburner said the company has always tried to be a good neighbor and installed a 1.5 mile service road from state Route 11 to Esterly Drive so their traffic wouldn’t heavily damage Esterly Drive.

“We went to township meetings and they were concerned about roads, so we put our own road in,” he said.

Fairfield Township trustees were able to initiate a project over the last year to get grant funding to improve access off state Route 344, Cherry Fork Road and Esterly Drive.

Stoneburner said the township was approved for $289,000 in grant funding for the work that will begin next week.

Traffic into the area is not only for Buckeye, however.

The site also is also home to Better Management Corp., a brokerage company, Zarbana Industries, an aluminum extrusion and fabricating company, and Columbiana Grinding, which produces pulverized powder used to reduce smokestack emissions.

Buckeye Transfer was awarded Business of the Year by the Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce last year and McCoy said it is companies like Buckeye that bring more jobs to the area.

“We really appreciate all you are doing for our community,” he told Stoneburner.