Joe was an employee of MCC, Inc. for 47 years! Joe’s interest in blasting started when he was a young child. His dad, Elmer, was a co-owner of MRK and assisted with blasts among other duties. When Joe was a young child, back then there wasn’t MSHA and OSHA, he would follow Elmer around listening to the stories, watching the blasts from a distance and in years to come, he started a career from those experiences.
Joe started working in 1973 as an employee in the quarries, learning the ins and outs, daily activities and taking in as much knowledge as he could. In 1980 he started his journey as a licensed blaster. From 1985 until the day he retired, he was the drilling and blasting manager working with a crew that he educated on all the items he knew, what he did right and worked best, what he did wrong and how he fixed for the next blast, and listened as much as he taught to see what the younger crew members thought might work. Can you believe in the 47 years as a blaster, he only worked with a total of 7 different people! Who can say in their whole career, they had pretty much the same crew for ALL of it?! Joe is a well-respected, educated, hard worker and a good listener to new ideas. In his career at MCC, Inc. he has recorded, as of July 31, 2020, a total of 11,252 production shots and a recorded 65,000,000 tons of rock! Talk about IMPRESSIVE!!!
Another great thing about Joe, he made working hard fun for his crew!
From the stories Joe can tell you, this runs in his bloodline. Elmer, his dad, along with his 3 brothers who work side by side with their sons; they all do blasting!! Garrett Konkle, Joe’s son, is following right behind his father’s footsteps in his career now at MCC, Inc.
Here is a portion of an article written in the Post Crescent on October 1, 2020 about Joe and his career.
Having a Blast
Demolition experts in the Fox Valley typically aren’t doing the big Las Vegas glamour thing, like blowing up old hotels. They are using their skills with explosives, instead, to sheer quarry rock, demolish old silos or clear wells.
But even though it’s the kind of thing that explosives expert Joe Konkle does as many as three times a day, setting up the perfection explosion is an engineering feat that is different every time.
Konkle is the drill and blasting supervisor for MCC, and he travels to the company’s 15 quarries, packing explosives into the sides of cliffs to sheer off stone that will be used for roads, construction or landscaping.
Explosions, he knows, are universally interesting.
“It’s the little kid in all of us watching fireworks,” he said. “I just get to keep doing it.”
On a recent day, in the Mackville quarry that resembles a gray lunar landscape, he has set 27 charges down 46 feet to remove 10,000 tons of rock. No cell phones, cigarettes or radios are allowed in the area to keep from detonating anything prematurely.
In a matter of seconds, he’ll blow away the face of the quarry’s limestone wall. He knows and respects the power of the dynamite combined with a blasting agent made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil. Each explosion is carefully designed.
“It’s a balance of getting enough rock to crush versus keeping peace with the neighbors,” he said. “It’s doing the job right. The number one thing is making sure the shot gets off without anyone getting hurt or equipment getting damaged.”
Konkle comes from a family that is well known in this line of work.
“My father owned a crushing outfit based out of Seymour, MCC bought it out in the early 1980s and I stayed with the company,” said Konkle. “I’ve been doing this for 34 years. I started right out of high school.”
His brother Steve also has a blasting license and works at MCC. Two more brothers work at an explosives company in Freedom. In all, four of the seven Konkle brothers have licenses to blast. Plus two more of his nephews went into the explosives business.
When he tells people what he does, they always want to see if he has all his fingers. He does.
“It would be a whole lot worse than a few fingers if something went wrong,” he said. Since the events of Sept. 11, 2001, his job has taken on added scrutiny. At the moment, his job is regulated by five different government agencies.
“My paperwork has tripled since Sept. 11. Rightfully so,” he said.
But it also has yielded one unexpected bonus. When he travels, his wife worries that traces of explosives on his shoes will set off security sensors.
“My wife buys me a new pair of tennis shoes every time I fly,” he said. “So far I haven’t been stopped. I also carry my blaster’s license.”
When he retires, he dreams of helping out on the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. “I’d like to say I was a part of that,” he said.
Writer of this article is Maureen Wallenfang, she can be reached at (920) 993-1000 ext 287 or at email@example.com
Thank you again Joe for all the years, stories, hard work and dedication to such a “different” career!
MCC, Inc. truly is a family run company!