Vic Hannan’s One-Stop Landscaping Shop
By Richard DuPertuis
Story and photos by Richard DuPertuis
WHEN YOU MIX cement powder with rock, sand or gravel, you get concrete, used as a solid foundation for anything from a retaining wall to a house. When you mix rock, sand and gravel with Vic Hannan, you get Vic Hannan Landscape Materials, a bedrock business that’s been supplying contractors and homeowners from its Anderson yard location for 28 years.
And when you mix all of the above with 42 years of experience in sand, gravel and rock supply, you end up with a landscaping expert managing the largest California supply yard this side of Sacramento.
“People wish there was someone they could ask about their projects,” says Hannan, seated in his back office. “I take questions all the time, give technical advice. I keep plans on a lot of projects that I give out for free, so someone who wants to do it himself can get the job done for, say, $300 instead of having to pay $3,000.”
Hannan’s expertise shows as he describes a couple of the more popular products he sells. For example, to make one of his custom soils, he starts with sandy loam and mixes in organic mushroom compost. “That’s the most evenly balanced compost on the market,” he says. “Put it down as-is and people can grow 10-foot tomato plants out of it.”
Hannan emphasizes that every ingredient in his soils is natural. “I don’t use any kind of chemical in anything I mix,” he declares.
In his front office, Hannan runs his hands through samples of pebble, a wide variety of gravel and decorative rock from as far away as Mexico. He hauls up to 10 cubic yards at a time from San Francisco in his own trucks. “A cubic yard of pebble will weigh 1.35 tons, or about 2,800 to 2,900 pounds. It depends on the density,” he says. “And you can legally haul 80,000 pounds down the highway.”
Hannan delivers orders with his fleet as well, using a dump truck with a transfer trailer, which he says is more agile than a semi. “You can’t get a big rig up those back roads in Eureka,” he explains. “I can haul it up there and dump it in their driveway cheaper than them buying it locally.”
For his own uses, he prefers Pami pebble from Missoula, Mont., which he adds to concrete to make “exposed aggregate,” for example, stepping stones with a raised pebble surface for better traction or artistic expression. These are cast on-site in latex molds within a tented facility in the yard.
Out in the yard you see the full scale of Vic Hannan Landscape Materials. To get around quickly, he’ll take you on a golf cart, and from a far corner of the nearly 15-acre yard you’ll see the distant office building dwarfed by a field of rows and rows of rocks. Hannan points out flat rocks, round rocks, rough volcanic rocks and – his favorites –beautifully layered onyx boulders, strapped to pallets that bow from the weight.
Yes, favorites. For out in the yard, Hannan reveals a fondness for these rocks, perhaps a bit surprising to find in a long-time landscape materials dealer. “Sometimes I like a rock because it is unique. There’s no rock like it anywhere else,” he shares. “I like things that are different. It’s part of the enjoyment of the business for me.”
If those are the words of a rock collector, Hannan has amassed the biggest rock collection you’ll see in these parts. You’ll also see sheet rock, retaining wall, pavers, statues – even lightweight, realistic rubber rocks for your pond or waterfall. It’s clear the owner and staff at Vic Hannan Landscape Materials have strived to provide a one-stop stockpile for anyone’s landscaping needs, be they contractor or do-it-yourself homeowner.
Despite its vast yard of stones, Hannan’s is a small business, employing a half-dozen yard personnel, drivers and a bookkeeper. His wife of seven years, Kelly, greets customers at the counter. She says her relationship with Hannan really opened her eyes to the smaller things in life. “When I started helping out, I had no clue I’d be selling rocks,” she says with a laugh. “It was a learning process. You grow up thinking it’s just dirt and rocks on the ground. But there’s more to it than that.”
What Hannan likes most about his more than four decades of landscaping provision and consulting is the feedback of appreciation he receives from his customers, looking back at hundreds of them, some returning long after their projects were completed. “Just having them come in and tell about their satisfaction, that’s your reward.”
He says he always keeps himself prepared for new questions, and he’s envisioned a strategy for preserving all he’s learned over the decades. “I still read up on all the technology, online and reading articles, but it’s getting harder to remember,” he says with a laugh. “Sometimes I wish I could just connect myself to a computer and download myself.” •
Vic Hannan Landscape Materials
7086 Highway 273 • Anderson
(530) 243-3037 • www.vichannan.com
Monday-Friday, 7 am-5 pm
Saturday, 7 am-4pm
Richard DuPertuis is a Redding grandfather who writes. Wrestling words which range from trite to poetically dense, he never truly knows where a story is going until it arrives. He also keeps an eye on the latest in photography, a decades-old passion now realized with an experimental smartphone called the Nokia 9 Pureview. His favorite word is Enjoy.