by Julie Tunheim
What started out as an idea to fix his sidewalk has become a patented process and a growing business for Chuck Asplin of Chuck’s Sandjacking®, Fargo, N.D. Asplin remembers the day he invented the process: August 22, 1993. Attempting to fix his own sidewalk, he fashioned levers, attached them to his sidewalk and filled water buckets attached to the levers to raise the sidewalk. Once it was raised to the proper level, he forced sand beneath it to re-create a flat base under the concrete. “I had to build a sand blowing tank,” he pointed out. “It took me a week to fix my sidewalk! It would take two hours now.” He created such a spectacle in his neighborhood that others wanted him to fix their unleveled concrete. “I had 23 jobs after that one that year,” he recalls, pointing out that it was late in the season. A part-time business developed and it became a full-time endeavor in 1995 when his employer, the Army National Guard, asked for volunteers for early retirement. Asplin, a retired U.S. Army engineer, comes from a family of contractors, making it an easy decision to become a contractor. His brother owns Asplin Sand and Gravel, where he purchases high quality masonry sand. But Asplin wasn’t satisfied with his makeshift equipment from his earliest work. He designed and built a wood-fired apparatus to dry the sand he uses in the process. He designed and built the clamps and hydraulic lifts he uses to raise the concrete. He designed and built the sand blowing machine that shoots the sand beneath the concrete. And, most importantly, he jumped through hoops to patent and license his tools and names.