L. Baylis Carnes:

L. Baylis Carnes:

The Family Standard

PHOTOS AND STORY BY MARIA IANNUCCI

Maintaining a successful business takes dedication, commitment and good leadership that is willing to evolve with the times. The Carnes family has built a successful company on the foundation of one man’s dream and carried onward and upward by future generations.

Born in 1900, Lemuel Baylis Carnes, Jr. was raised in southern Georgia. With an employment history in aggregate (a term used to describe a collection of items to form a material, such as in concrete), Carnes prospected for a sand mine in Central Florida. After finding a suitable location in Davenport, which had a population of less than 500, the entrepreneur moved his family to the area in 1944. Standard Sand & Silica Company was opened in 1945.

His son, Baylis Carnes, now president of Standard Sand and Silica, recalled the early beginnings of the company and his father’s efforts towards its development. “I remember watching my dad draw out the company logo,” said Baylis. “He wasn’t an artist, but he knew what he wanted and did it.” Baylis added “Quality and Service” to the logo later, representing the only change to its history since its inception.

The elder Carnes worked hard with his partner to get the company set up, which included the mine as well as a way to transport their product. Back in the 40s, the railroad was the most efficient way to move tons of material to customers throughout the nation. In time, the company grew, and was a stable employer for many of the locals. Baylis and his brother grew up riding bikes and fishing with cane poles in East Polk while their father put in long hours at the mine.

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When his father died suddenly in 1953, Baylis, his siblings and his mother were devastated, but tenacious. “My mother (Nell), had the strength to hang on to Dad’s part of the company,” said Baylis. “With good advice and guidance, she held on to the company. She was the glue that kept it together. It took a lot for a woman at that time to do what she did. It meant a lot to our family; we took a great deal of pride in what my father started.”

The family bought out the existing partner, and the company continued doing business. Nell remarried in the mid-50s, and both Baylis and his brother, Gary, would begin working at Standard Sand and Silica before the end of the decade. The men would learn different aspects of the sand industry, from the mining to the finished product and delivery.

“It was hard labor,” said Baylis, “and I was in my early 20s then. We drilled by hand then, and we had about 15 employees at that time, compared to about 250 employees today.”

By the late 1950s, the transportation of materials was moving from railcars to trucking, and Standard Sand and Silica began changing with the times. Mr. Carnes had reinvested profits in the company along the way, including a purchase of 1200 acres in Davenport.

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As years passed, Baylis’ children began working at the mine, as would his grandchildren later. In 1998, the company sold the mining portion of the operation to CSR Rinker, leaving them to focus on the processing of sand materials for a variety of purposes, including ball field clays, golf course sands, fertilizer filler, and grout and mortar sands.

Today, Standard Sand and Silica employs over 250 across six plant locations in Florida and Georgia, including in Lake Wales and Davenport. With gross revenues in the tens of millions and exports heading to places like Central and South America, Davenport is a hub for this company with national and international interests.

Baylis Carnes eagerly comes to work every day and has no plans to retire. “I am so proud of what my father started, and what my children have made of this company.”

His son, David, is a mechanical engineer who has put decades of hard work into the family business. “Dad has taken the company to a certain point, and each generation will continue to take it forward. Every member of the family that’s a part of the company has found their niche and developed their strengths.”

“It’s been in the family since 1945, and I keep looking forward to where we will take Standard Sand and Silica next,” said Baylis.

 

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