Butte Rock and Gravel was started by Joe and Brenda Morehead in 1960, shortly after they were married. Joe was a rice famer, living in a single-wide trailer on his parent’s ranch at the southern base of the Sutter Buttes, affectionately known as the “Smallest Mountain Range in the World.” The youngest of the four children of Paul and Margaret Morehead, Joe had watched his older brothers Bob and Gordon (Shorty), and his sister Paula struck out on their own after graduating from Sutter Union High School, the same school where Paul and Margaret had met years earlier. Joe was going to be different. After graduating in 1949, Joe did a brief stint in the Army testing tanks in the harsh environs of Big Delta, Alaska, before returning home to drive low bed trucks and hauling heavy equipment all over the state for his cousin Lee Platter, and helping his dad on the family farm. He soon met the former Brenda Bryant at a dance at the old Burris’ Barn, quickly fell in love, and married on Valentine’s Day, 1959.
Joe soon realized that rice farming was a rough business. Once the harvest was in, farmers were at the mercy of the buyers for the price they received for their crop. Hard work and sweat seemingly had no correlation to the price you received! Joe had been watching Sutter County mine gravel in the Buttes and use it on the roads all over the county, and he was starting to get friends ask him for material from their ranch. You see, “Butte Rock” had a cement-like quality that, when compacted, set up hard like concrete. Joe and his dad bought an old truck and a tractor/loader, and Butte Rock and Gravel was born.
Right about the same time, the natural gas industry in Sutter County really began to take off. Joe hired his first employee, Carole Reeves straight out of Sutter High, and together, they would run their lone International Harvester dump truck 24 hours a day. Soon, Joe was building a “state-of-the-art” gravel plant out of old railroad cars, and used equipment left over from projects like Bullards Bar and the Oroville Dam. Brenda, in between raising four rambunctious boys, was answering phones, making sales, and dispatching their one truck from a CB radio that sat on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen of their newly constructed home. In between all that, she did the books for the flourishing business in one of the three, small bedrooms (the four boys took the other room!). Together with his high school buddy Mervin Clark and others, Joe worked tirelessly mining, processing and hauling the Butte Rock to Merv for the building of gas well pads to service the drilling rigs that dotted the Sutter Buttes and the surrounding area.
The four boys, Darren, Todd, Joey and Marty, realized that to survive in this family, you had to work! Between feeding the cows, mowing the lawns, and working on the plant and the equipment, and loading trucks and eventually driving trucks, all found the hard work rewarding, necessary and key to their future success.
Then in 1990, Darren, Joey and Marty bought the business from their parents and continued to grow the company.