Location: Frank Bryan Concrete Factory on the South Side

Featured guests: Caleb Bryan and Justin Bryan, great-grandsons of Frank Bryan and current employees of the company

3 things that surprised me:

1. Frank Bryan started an excavation business in 1883 that — five generations later — evolved into a large materials company that includes the Frank Bryan Concrete Factory. Their concrete business was based in McKees Rocks until the 1980s when the Bryan Materials Group took over the 100-year-old concrete factory on the South Side. Caleb and Justin grew up in the factory, and now they work there themselves.

2. The factory gets most of the raw materials used in the concrete manufacturing process from our nearby rivers. They’ve got permits to dredge in certain areas of the river where they collect gravel that was deposited there by glaciers. They pile it onto a barge and tow it up to the South Side facility, which is surprisingly efficient since towing materials by barge requires a lot less energy than using trucks.

3. Inside the factory there are eight giant bins, each full of a different concrete ingredient. Depending on the concrete “recipe” they’re mixing up, they’ll release the appropriate amount from each bin and load it into one of their concrete trucks. A small job might require one truck of concrete but a big pour could require dozens of trucks full of concrete.

One thing that didn’t make the final cut: The Bryan Materials Groups doesn’t just own their own factory, they also own all the barges and tugboats that bring them their concrete ingredients. Caleb and Justin invited us to ride along in one of their tugboats for a future episode of Yinzer Backstage Pass.

Additional info: You can learn more about Frank Bryan Concrete Factory at their website.

Want more Yinzer Backstage Pass? Check out our tour of historic skyscraper rooftops in downtown Pittsburgh.

Boaz is the host of NEXTpittsburgh's Yinzer Backstage Pass video series. He is also an author, filmmaker, advertising copywriter, teacher, experiential storyteller, talk show host, gardener, kazoo museum curator and so much more.