From Stone Age hand tools to Modern Day building materials, the earth’s many rock minerals have now become essential assets for landscaping. And if you want the best, you go to Pat Foley from Oz Pebble: he’s a stone connoisseur.
Pat Foley had a concreting business on the Sunshine Coast that he started back in ’93. It was there that he found himself first playing with pebbles as he began specialising in exposed aggregate finishes. “We used to do a lot of high-rise work and driveways,” he recalled. Seeing a niche in the market that he was interested in, Pat began scouting for some original supplies. “There weren’t too many stones around back then,” he continued, “so I went out looking for other pebbles. I found stuff in Melbourne and Sydney and all over Australia. I built some bins in my backyard and then we mixed these stones in from all over the place – a bit of this and a bit of that in different ratios. I had 12 to 15 different varieties of stone that we could do driveways and paths out of. I was the only one you could get the stones off.”
Like a master chef, Pat was fascinated by the different ingredients out there and enjoyed concocting his own recipes through experimentation. He was literally reshaping the industry. “I was finding nice, different-coloured stones that were sharp, and that needed to be rounded,” he further explained. “So I’d put it in a cement mixer and tumbled it to see how long it took to smooth up. In the end I came up with something different that no one else had. It was unique.”
Just after the turn of the century Pat was offered a contract with a large Sunny Coast concrete supplier to look after their pebble division. He left his backyard operation and set up a professional stone supply plant at one of the company’s quarries. From that steppingstone (sorry, it was too irresistible), things only grew bigger. “Within 12 months we were also supplying Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” he boasted. “We’d gone from 1000 ton a month to 4000 ton a month.” After his contract ran out, entrepreneur Pat broke free and moved south to start his own company, Oz Pebble. “I bought 105 acres over here at Gatton,” he said of the venture. “I cleared the place and set up the business on 30 to 40 acres.”
The facility now employees seven people, supplying the best pebble products to landscapers big and small. “We’re mainly wholesale,” Pat said. “We do have people come in and pick orders up in trailers, but we mostly deliver to landscape yards throughout Queensland. We’ve got our own weighbridge and loaders that have scales in them. I have four truck and dogs, so we can deliver two product ranges in the one drop.” Although he still offers exposed aggregate stones for concreters, it’s Pat’s exclusive landscape range of pebbles that has really taken off.
They come in a smorgasbord of colours and array of sizes to cater for any job, plus, carrying the same passion that he started out with, Pat is constantly evolving his palette with newfound gems.
On the back of this, Oz Pebble has also branched out into different types of sand, soils and mulch. “We screen our soil and add some mulch and cow and chook manure and make up a bit of a blend,” outlined the 53-year-old aficionado. “We’ve got a limestone and a lot of excess comes off when you tumble it, so we dry that through a process and then we mix some of that with our soils as well to make a great gardening product.” A scientist of sorts, Pat said his work is a fine art that balances between playing around and professional practice. Rest assured, all the products they sell are fully approved, so you know you’re getting guaranteed quality. “We regularly get our soil tested,” he said as an example.
“It all passes the Australian standard so we can supply councils and government departments, plus then our regular customers know they’re getting the best.”
Pat was also proud to announce a new product that will interest LCM readers. “We now have a pecan nutshell in our garden mulch range,” he revealed. “This stuff can last 18 months before you have to top it up. It breaks down slowly but it still maintains the moisture in your soil.” And that’s just a little rock in the mountain of new things Oz Pebble has lined up. “We’re building a big workshop at the moment to service our vehicles,” Pat divulged. “And we’re setting up a new bagging facility and storage shed for doing 20 kilo and bulker bags. We’re looking to go interstate with some of those products.” With talk that some of Pat’s unique blends might even be available in Mitre 10 soon, things are looking rock solid for Oz Pebble.
Discover more about Oz Pebble at pebblesupplies.com.au