The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Business

April 21, 2014

Digging In

Coughlans ready to mine silica sand

For many generations the Coughlan family has been involved in mining along the bluffs north of Mankato.

The family ran Mankato Kasota Stone, taking out the buff-tone Kasota stone prized for use in buildings across the state and nation.

But last July, after 128 years, following the economic downturn that slowed new construction, the family closed the stone quarry. Once home to at least a half dozen companies mining Kasota stone, the closure left Mankato with only Vetter Stone.

While the Coughlans are out of the stone quarry business, it didn’t mean they were ready to stop getting their hands dirty digging around in quarries. Since 2010, brothers Bob and Joe Coughlan, along with Scott Sustacek, have been exploring mining for silica sand in the old stone quarries – sand that has grown in demand thanks to the expansion of domestic oil and gas production.

The Coughlans formed Jordan Sands, naming Sustacek as CEO, to move ahead with the plan to mine about 70 acres and use 40 acres to process the sand.

Brett Skilbred was brought in as director of project development and was deeply involved in the permitting process for the project.

Skilbred has also been named, as an industry member, to a state task force whose mission is to study silica mining issues and make recommendations to state agencies and the Legislature.

“It was an obvious next step. The quarry business is just in our blood,” Bob Coughlan said. “The demand for (silica) is increasing so we think it’s a good long-term business.”

The family, through its Coughlan Cos., had long ago diversified into other lines of business, including financial and manufacturing and Capstone Press, a major publisher of children’s books and digital products.

Sustacek had a 21-year career with Nystrom Inc., a commercial building products manufacturer, serving as CEO since 2005.

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