Louis Griesemer to receive Barry K. Wendt Commitment Award

The National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) announced Louis Griesemer, former president and board member of Springfield Underground, will receive the 2020 Barry K. Wendt Commitment Award during NSSGA’s Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We are pleased to recognize Louis with our association’s most distinguished individual award for his dedication to family and service to the aggregates industry,” said NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson in a press release. “He has shown incredible commitment to improving both the lives of those around him and the industry broadly, and we are truly grateful for his service.”

As a lasting memorial to Wendt, who exemplified extraordinary commitment to family, career and the aggregates industry, NSSGA’s Manufacturers and Services Division established the annual award in 1998 to recognize an individual in the industry who exhibits the dedication exemplified by Barry Wendt, both in commitment to the industry and the community in which they live.

Griesemer has been a leader in the aggregates industry at within NSSGA for years, including service as NSSGA’s Board Chairman in 2007.  He has been a leader on safety, which culminated in NSSGA honoring him by renaming the top safety award to be the Louis Griesemer Sterling Safety Award.

“I’m very honored to receive this award,” said Griesemer. “Barry Wendt encouraged me, as he did so many others, to actively engage in the Association.  I can only hope that I was able to encourage others in the way Barry inspired me.”

The Barry K. Wendt Commitment Award will be presented to Louis Griesemer during NSSGA’s 2020 Annual Convention on Tuesday, March 10.

Bill Sandbrook to retire as CEO of U.S. Concrete

U.S. Concrete, Inc.  announced that William J. Sandbrook notified the company’s board of directors of his decision to retire as CEO effective April 3, 2020. Sandbrook will serve as the company’s chairman of the board until the company’s annual meeting of stockholders in May 2020, when he will stand for re-election as a director at the annual meeting.

To ensure an orderly transition of his duties, Sandbrook will provide consulting services to the company pursuant to a one-year consulting agreement, which may be extended by mutual agreement.

U.S. Concrete also announced that Ronnie Pruitt, the company’s president and chief operating officer, has been named chief executive officer and president effective as of April 3, 2020.

“After 17 years in the military and 28 years in the heavy construction materials industry and in conjunction with a robust succession plan, I believe it is an opportune time for me to turn over the CEO duties to Ronnie,” said U.S. Concrete Chairman and CEO, William J. Sandbrook, in a press release. “Ronnie is well prepared to lead the company into our next phase of growth through his many years of industry experience. I am committed to working with him and the company as a strategic advisor and board member to ensure a smooth transition and continuation of our enhanced vertical integration strategy. I want to thank the board of directors for their tremendous support, insight, and encouragement over the past nine years. Together with a fantastic group of leaders and employees, we have dramatically transformed the company in the eyes of our customers, industry peers, and the investor community at large. I am humbled to have been part of this journey.” 

Sandbrook joined U.S. Concrete in August 2011 as president and chief executive officer.  He has served as a member of the board of directors since he joined the company and served as the company’s chairman since May 2018. 

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Bill for his significant contributions to and leadership of U.S. Concrete for the last nine years.  Under his leadership, the company evolved from a predominantly ready-mixed focused company with limited geographic footprint to a much larger company with a focus on aggregates and vertically integrated ready-mixed operations with meaningful footprints in major metropolitan areas in the United States and a large aggregates quarry in Canada servicing our West Coast operations,” said Michael D. Lundin, U.S. Concrete’s lead director. “The company’s culture is strong and reflects Bill’s pursuit of excellence and passion for the business. Bill has developed an outstanding senior leadership team to support the company and Ronnie in his new role as chief executive officer, and we are excited about the future of the company going forward.”

“I want to express my gratitude to Bill who is responsible for bringing me to U.S. Concrete as well as preparing me to lead this company during our next phase of growth and improvement,” Pruitt said. “I also want to thank the hard-working men and women of U.S. Concrete for believing in the company and working hard to deliver, manufacture, and provide quality construction materials.  I am passionate about this company, the strength of our existing assets and our ability to serve the markets we are currently in, as well as those we plan to grow in the future.  I truly look forward to this opportunity and will always appreciate the foundation that Bill built.”

Three fire departments team to rescue dog at Vulcan’s Greenwood Quarry

Greenwood City Fire and Rescue, Greenwood County Fire Rescue, and Ware Shoals Fire Rescue teamed up to rescue a puppy that had fallen to a rock ledge in Vulcan’s Greenwood quarry. Photo courtesy of Greenwood City Fire Rescue.

Earlier this month, the Greenwood City Fire Rescue executed a high angle rescue to save a young dog that had fallen into Vulcan Materials Co.’s Greenwood, S.C., quarry. The puppy was wearing a GPS collar and was located in the quarry after being missing for nearly a day. It had fallen approximately 60 feet and was trapped on a rock ledge.

The fire department reports that its Rescue 1 and Battalion 2 units responded to the rescue call, and worked with the Department of Natural Resources and Greenwood County Fire Rescue to retrieve the puppy.

Using specialized ropes and equipment rescue worker, Lt. Chris James, was lowered to the rock ledge where the dog had fallen. Once the dog was secured, Lt. James and the logs were lowered another 150 feet to a larger rock ledge.

A third fire department, Ware Shoals Fire Rescue, joined the effort with its new ladder truck. The ladder truck was set up at the quarry floor and the 107-foot ladder was then used to bring Lt. James and the dog down from the highwall.

The rescue crews nicknamed the pup “Rocky” in honor of his adventure.

Summit Materials releases fourth quarter, full year results

In 2019, Summit Materials, Inc. benefitted from increased volumes and pricing, combined with strategic acquisitions and reduced capital expenditures. For the fourth quarter, Summit reported net income of $35.7 million, compared to a net loss of $19.2 in the fourth quarter of 2018. For the year end, its net income was $59.1 million, compared to $33.9 million in 2018.

While volumes and prices grew across all lines of business in 2019, aggregates contributed the largest proportion of incremental net revenue. Summit reported operating income of $213.6 million in 2019, compared to $162.5 million in 2018, a 31.4-percent increase.

“Sustained public sector demand coupled with improved pricing contributed to margin expansion in our aggregates and product lines of business late in the quarter, resulting in the highest fourth quarter EBITDA in the company’s history,” said CEO Tom Hill in a press release. “For the full year 2019, our aggregates business delivered strong results due in part to strong performance from our East Segment.”

For the year, aggregates net revenues increased 25.6 percent to $469.7 million when compared to the prior year. The increase is attributed to higher organic volume (up 9.5 percent) and selling price (up 6.5 percent), as well as the company’s acquisition program.

“Our focus on variable cost management intensified as 2019 progressed, and we looked to offset the impact of some operational changes with better efficiency,” Hill said. “This included our ongoing efforts to implement lean processes, labor cost management practices, and purchasing improvements.”

“We were disciplined and selective on acquisitions while generating increased cash flow from operations, which combined with lower capital expenditures enabled us to lower our leverage ratio,” added CFO Brian Harris.

Looking forward, Hill noted that Summit expects continued growth in public markets, fueled by new state gas taxes, strong demand for residential housing among entry-level buyers, and non-residential market demand for low-rise commercial development and windfarm work.

Summit Materials provided 2020 capital expenditure guidance of approximately $185 million to $205 million, which includes $65 million to $80 million estimated for greenfield projects.

Martin Marietta reports strong 4th quarter, full-year 2019 results

Martin Marietta President and CEO Ward Nye noted that 2019 was another record-breaking year for revenues and profits. He attributed it to the company’s strategic priorities: safety, ethics, cost discipline, and operational excellence.

In its 25th year as a publicly held business, Martin Marietta reported strong results for 2019. “Throughout our history, we’ve positioned our business to outperform through the disciplined execution of a proven strategy and a keen, shared commitment to the world-class attributes of our business, including safety, ethics, cost discipline, and operational excellence,” said Ward Nye, president and CEO of Martin Marietta during an earnings conference call.

2019 annual results “clearly validate the importance of these strategic priorities,” he added. “We reported a much improved year-over-year fourth quarter that capped off a 12-month period of record-setting financial performance. In 2019, we once again established new records for revenues, profits, and adjusted EBITDA from improved shipments, pricing, and cost management across most of our building materials business.”

For the year, consolidated total revenues increased 12 percent to $4.7 billion. Consolidated gross profit increased 22 percent to $1.2 billion. Adjusted EBITDA increased 15 percent to nearly $1.3 billion. Diluted earnings per share were $9.74 per share, a 31-percent improvement.

“Our 2019 results mark the eighth consecutive year of growth in these financial metrics,” Nye said. “Martin Marietta’s repeated ability to translate revenue growth into increased profitability has been, and continues to be, a differentiator, as strong earnings growth drove a total shareholder return of 64 percent in 2019, more than double the S&P 500.”

Safety first

Nye underscored the numerous benefits of the company’s commitment to safety. “Safety is a core principal and the foundation of our strong financial performance,” he said. “We are proud to have achieved world-class lost-time incident rates company wide for the third consecutive year. Additionally, we’ve meaningfully improved safety performance at our legacy Bluegrass Materials operations acquired in 2018 – our company’s second-largest acquisition.

“From the boardroom to site operations, our teams have embraced our Guardian Angel and Wingman-branded safety culture. This continued commitment has elevated safety awareness across the company, reducing downtime from workplace incidents and leading to higher revenues and profitability,” he said. “Most importantly, working safely protects our employees and the more than 400 communities in which we live and work.”

Build materials results

For the full year, aggregates shipments increased 12 percent to 191 million tons and aggregates pricing rose by 4 percent. “Notably, for the first time in four years, aggregates shipments to all three primary end-use markets increased, reflecting improved strength in public and private sector spending in our markets,” Nye said.

Cement operations established new full-year records for volumes and gross profits. Shipments increased 10 percent to nearly 3.9 million tons. Pricing increased by 3 percent.

Ready-mixed concrete shipments decreased 2 percent due to weather challenges in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Prices increased “modestly.”

Asphalt shipments improved 7.5 percent, while pricing increased nearly 4 percent.

2020 expectations

“We are excited to build our momentum,” Nye said, noting the company plans to capitalize on attractive fundamentals that support sustainable and long-term construction growth in its markets. “This underscores the importance of a notion we have long articulated: Where you are matters.”

The company has positioned its business through aggregates-led expansion in high-growth mega regions.”These mega regions exhibit attractive market fundamentals, including population growth, business and employment diversity, and superior state fiscal position,” he explained. “Notably, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida will account for nearly half of our nation’s population growth between now and 2040. That is a staggering statistic in four of our top 10 states by revenue. These states are experiencing, and will likely continue to experience, a significant influx of people requiring homes, schools, offices, restaurants, and roads. In short, population growth will drive increased consumption of heavy-side building materials in key Martin Marietta-served markets for the next two decades.

“With that in mind, we are confident that construction activity in our top 10 states will continue to outpace growth nationwide,” Nye said. “The combination of strong infrastructure funding levels and healthy private sector activity is expected to drive both increased shipments and better pricing, resulting in record-level profitability for our company in 2020.

“We’re proud of our 2019 record financial results and industry-leading safety performance. We’re equally optimistic about the future of Martin Marietta. As we move forward, Martin Marietta remains committed to positioning our business to be aggregates led in high-growth geographies and aligning our product offerings to leverage strategic cement and targeted downstream opportunities,” he said. “We will continue to be disciplined in our solid strategic plan, in our team’s commitment to the world-class attributes of our business: safety, ethics, cost discipline, and operational excellence. We look forward to continuing our strong momentum in 2020 and further strengthening our foundation for long-term success.”

See the full results here.

Larkin tapped as EVP, COO at Granite Construction

Kyle T. Larkin joined Granite Construction in 1996 as an estimator and has worked his way through the company’s ranks.

Granite Construction Inc. announced the appointment of Kyle T. Larkin as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Larkin will oversee day-to-day operations and continue to be a member of its executive committee, reporting directly to James H. Roberts, president and CEO.

“Kyle is an outstanding leader with a proven track record who embodies the best at Granite. He is strategically focused, has a deep understanding of our business, and equally important, Kyle is a team builder who develops and empowers his teams and fosters a collaborative work environment,” Roberts said in a press release. “I am confident that Kyle will provide the leadership, vision, and management to optimize operations at Granite.”

Larkin joined the company in 1996 as an estimator and held positions of increasing responsibility. Most recently, he served as senior vice president and manager of the Construction Materials Operations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in construction management from California Polytechnic State University and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Chance Allen named GM of LafargeHolcim’s US ACM Mountain Region

LafargeHolcim notes that Allen’s experience will support the company as it continues to strengthen and expand its business.

LafargeHolcim has appointed Woodrow “Chance” Allen general manager for the Mountain Region for the U.S. Aggregates and Construction Materials (ACM) organization. Allen has extensive experience in lean manufacturing and managing large-scale businesses.

“Chance brings a valuable perspective of the US aggregates and construction materials industry,” said Jay M. Moreau, CEO, US ACM, in a press release. “His experience in production and in developing and executing strategic growth initiatives will support LafargeHolcim as we continue to strengthen and expand our business.”

Most recently, Allen was the general manager, Aggregates & Asphalt for the Mountain Region, where he managed quarry operations, asphalt plants, and a recycle business, among other responsibilities, including related logistics. Prior to joining LafargeHolcim in October of 2019, he served as vice president of the Central Texas area at Martin Marietta, where he worked for nearly 20 years. During this time, he held positions of increasing responsibility, including district production manager and general manager for the San Antonio District.

Allen has a bachelor of science degree in mining engineering from the University of Missouri Science & Technology. He earned an MBA from Strayer University and has served on the board of multiple organizations, including the Texas Workforce Commission and the University of Missouri Science & Technology.

NIOSH-MSHA to host dust partnership meeting

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) invite mining, public health and medical stakeholders to an inaugural meeting of the Respirable Mine Dust Partnership on Wednesday, Feb. 5, from 2-3 p.m. EST.

According to MSHA, the partnership will address exposures to a broad range of respirable hazards, including respirable crystalline silica (quartz). Some of the goals for this partnership include:

  • Reviewing existing literature and scientific studies regarding quartz exposure among miners;
  • Providing recommendations addressing shortcomings in the data; and
  • Identifying easily achievable recommendations that will have near-term benefits to reduce miners’ exposure to quartz and other respirable hazards.

The meeting will take place in the 7th floor West Conference Rooms at MSHA Headquarters, but participants may also join by phone. See details here. The agenda can be found here.

For more information, contact Sheila McConnell at mcconnell.sheila.a@dol.gov.

EPA’s WOTUS replacement rule is finalized

The 2019 proposed Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule has now been finalized. “All states have their own protections for waters within their borders, and many regulate more broadly than the federal government,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, according to an NPR report. “Our new rule recognizes this relationship and strikes the proper balance between Washington, D.C., and the states. And it clearly details which waters are subject to federal control under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and, importantly, which waters fall solely under the states’ jurisdiction.”

“For small businesses like mine, regulatory uncertainty and inconsistency result in real costs,” said Alan Parks, vice president of Memphis Stone & Gravel, in an NSSGA news release.  “The new WOTUS definition continues to protect our nation’s water and provides clarity on several key exclusions such as ponds built on dry land, pits, and basins associated with mining, and streams that only convey water after storm events. Knowing that our gravel pits and water treatment basins won’t carry an additional federal regulatory burden is very helpful. These changes will allow us to be even better stewards of our local natural resources, which results in a positive benefit to our community.”

The revised WOTUS rule replaces the 2015 WOTUS rule, which led to widespread confusion, delays and increased costs for aggregates producers, NSSGA reports.

When the earlier law was introduced, 27 states sued to block it. The revised rule clarifies that ephemeral waters are not subject to federal control. Rather, four categories of water are subject to federal control under the CWA: large navigable waters, tributaries, lakes and ponds, and major wetlands.

“The scope of federal jurisdiction over waters has been confusing for years, causing permitting delays.  The implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule made matters worse,” said Mark Williams, environmental manager, Luck Companies, and chairman of NSSGA’s environmental committee. “We are pleased that the new rule provides important environmental protection of waters that need it most, while ensuring clarity to aggregates producers like Luck.  It’s important that both the regulators and NSSGA members are able to understand when a federal permit is required, so we can continue to provide materials for vital infrastructure projects.”

“NSSGA members have worked for years to get a WOTUS rule that aligns with congressional intent by providing necessary protections while allowing aggregates producers the regulatory certainty by which to plan and operate their businesses and provide the necessary infrastructure projects America needs,” added NSSGA President and CEO Michael W. Johnson.  

Carmeuse to move popular tourist attraction at its Calcite plant

As Carmeuse Lime & Stone plans to mine additional reserves at its Calcite plant in Rogers City, Mich., it will first have to move a popular tourist attraction: its quarry lookout. The yet-to-be-determined location will be its third in the quarry’s more than 100 years of operation.

“The original location of the quarry view, and that’s the name that was used, it was Lookout Point… was closer to Petersville, and it had a building that housed restroom facilities and interpretative materials about the plant,” Mark Thompson, Presque Isle County Historical Museum executive director, told Presque Isle County Advance and Onaway Outlook.

The viewing area was originally developed in 1949 by Michigan Limestone Operations (MLO) in response to growing interest in the operation. The fenced area was located at the highest point of the quarry’s south bank, about 140 feet above the quarry floor. A year later, the attraction became so popular that MLO added a visitors center and turned it over to the Rogers City Chamber of Commerce. By the middle of September 1950, nearly 16,000 individuals had signed the register in the visitor’s center. Estimates put the actual number of visitors closer to 20,000.

In 1951, the chamber of commerce placed billboard ads along nearby highways advertising the site, dubbing the quarry “the Eighth Wonder of the World.” Attendance climbed to more than 37,000 visitors, and limestone samples were distributed to visitors.

While the new location has not yet been identified, tree clearing has begun and Turner Mining Group will then remove overburden. “That’s just the first step,” William de Changy, operations manager. “We will do the test holes to see the chemistry. Our goal is to extract the stone from this area in the future. When we get to quarry view, then it would be the time to relocate it to somewhere else. When it’s time to close this one, the other could already be opened.”

In 2012, a documentary on the operation, A Century in Stone, commemorated 100 years of quarry operations at the plant. It was nominated for two Emmy Awards from the Michigan Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences: Best Writer/Program and Best Historical Documentary in 2013 and won an Emmy in the Best Writer/Program category.