Capital Buzz: Ernest Maier is working on a big project in Angola

Brendan Quinn just returned from five days in Angola, where his company, Bladensburg-based masonry supplier Ernest Maier, has lined up work quarrying granite so it can be processed into stone for use in concrete, road and asphalt jobs.

Ernest Maier is a supplier of rock aggregates to the largest project in sub-Saharan Africa at the present time, a $3.6 billion oil refinery being installed by KBR of Houston for Sonangol, the state-owned oil company.

The 87-year-old firm is a partner in the project, which is being funded by the Overseas Private Investment Corp.

Work took off in February and will continue for the next five to six years, Quinn said.

The company has three Bladensburg-based employees who have moved to Angola to manage the project alongside 15 Angolans in Culango in the Benguela Province, Quinn said.

“I will be there twice per year to work on macro issues,” he said, adding that the project could bring in $20 million over the next 18 months, with more contracts to follow.

Ernest Maier, which has 145 employees, has two factories that make the cinder blocks used in foundations for homes and walls for schools and chain stores. The firm also supplies flagstone and other decorative concrete products for home patios, sidewalks and driveways.

A helping hand pens a book

Eric Lindner, former top executive in his family-owned Colonial Parking, the biggest parking firm in the Washington market, has a book coming out this September called “Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life.”

The book documents his experience as a volunteer hospice worker.

“I’m doing this to get more people to volunteer,” said Lindner, 54, who walked off the street and into a tiny hospice in Warrenton one day in April 2009 out of curiosity.

“I do it because my patients are the most fascinating people I’ve ever met, and I’ve met a few,” said the Warrenton resident. He lives on a farm there with his wife, Ellen, who is a horse lover.

Lindner now splits his time between Virginia and a place in Kauai, Hawaii. He was chairman and chief executive of Colonial before he left the company to run a parking business in Poland. Between 1994 and December 2011, he held the contract at the Gdansk Lech Walesa Airport.

After commuting from Dulles International to Poland via Munich or Vienna, he sold the business to a Belgian buyer, and has been advising the new company for the past year.

The Buzz hears:

Ridge Capital Partners, a Middleburg private equity firm run by J. Bradley Davis, has invested several million in USA Synthetic Fuel Corp., a publicly held company which last year relocated from Ohio to downtown Washington.

USA Synthetic has won approval for a $2 billion clean gasification plant in Lima, Ohio, that will initially produce about 7,000 barrels per day of ultra-clean synthetic crude oil and grow in two years to 22,000 barrels per day.

Davis has run Ridge for more than three decades, starting in suburban Chicago and moving to Middleburg about 10 years ago. Ridge invests in companies valued between $20 million and $70 million. The company’s portfolio includes waste management, equine products, residential window and door manufacturers, and sportswear.

Davis said after the Ohio plant is up and running, USA Synthetic — which receives no government subsidies — plans to turn its attention to a Wyoming clean-energy project that is to one day produce 80,000 barrels per day of crude oil.

Factoid of the Week

440That’s the number of babies that Let Mommy Sleep, the Haymarket-based service that provides overnight newborn care, has nurtured since opening three years ago. The company, whose market runs from Baltimore to Northern Virginia, provides nurses and caregivers to moms and dads of newborns who are struggling to find sleep. The business is on track to gross more than $600,000 this year, according to founder Denise Stern.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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