Grit and Grind - The Dirt

posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2022 in The Dirt

PThe steady hum of activity permeates the muggy, spring air and serves as the soundtrack for tireless workdays at the Lago Verde Mine in Spring Hill, Florida.

A parade of trucks enters the mine at consistent, 15-minute intervals to collect — and soon depart with — recently extracted loads of crushed limestone.

The material is destined for jobsites throughout central Florida, where it will be used to support the region’s construction and roadbuilding industries. In recent years, those sectors have grown — and Lago Verde has played a key role in supplying the stone that forms the foundation of these in-demand projects.

“The Florida market is very good,” says Pate Clements, co-owner of the mine and its sister company, Cypress Gulf Development Corporation of Oldsmar, Florida. “We’re in the process of installing a new crusher to increase our capacity.”

Clad in mud-stained work pants and a bright-yellow hard hat, Clements briefly pauses to collect his thoughts as he peers across the vast expanse of his busy mine. “We have been very fortunate,” he reflects. “We’re close to the population growth, and we’ve been able to sell just about everything we can produce on a daily basis.”

Modest beginnings

Clements and his business partner Jim Glover started Cypress Gulf in the early 2000s. The company conducts commercial, residential, and industrial sitework, establishing a strong presence in a four-county region stretching from the east to west coasts of the state.

Two decades after its founding, Cypress Gulf and its affiliated companies have grown to roughly 250 employees. While Clements is proud of that number, he is equally as eager to discuss the company’s humble roots. Much like the material it mines, Cypress Gulf has been built upon grit.

“I think what I am most passionate about is where this company came from,” he says. “Me and my business partners, we weren’t given anything. None of us came from families that were in the business. We all started our companies from scratch.”

Over time, Cypress Gulf’s growth has been supported by strategic acquisitions and calculated diversification. Clements and Glover operate a ready-mix concrete business, and in 2020 they purchased the Lago Verde Mine, a move that gave the company direct access to the raw materials it needed. “We use a lot of rock in our other businesses, so it was natural for us to produce our own aggregates and grow into the mine,” he says.