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.

Granite named one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Admired Companies

Granite has been named as one of Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies. The Fortune list is a ranking of the world’s most respected and reputable companies as graded by their corporate peers.

Granite President and CEO James H. Roberts attributes the award to the company’s 7,200-person workforce. “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized among the most admirable companies in the world,” he said in a press release. “This recognition is a testament to our people who are the driving force behind our success.”

Fortune collaborated with partner Korn Ferry to conduct this survey of corporate reputation in which executives, directors, and securities analysts rated Granite on nine criteria, from investment value and quality of management and products to social responsibility and ability to attract talent.

The complete World’s Most Admired Companies list appears in the February issue of the magazine. Industry manufacturers also appearing on the list include Caterpillar, Deere, and Komatsu.

Luck Companies takes top honors for employee engagement

In an industry that ranks attracting and retaining employees among its greatest challenges, Luck Companies is having quite a bit of, well luck. It was ranked as one of the top three most engaged places to work in the United States in 2019.

The recognition came as part of the Korn Ferry annual Employee Engagement Awards. This is the second consecutive year that Luck Companies has earned the distinction. Other recipients include Toyota Motor North America, L’Oreal, and the Bank of England.

“This prestigious award recognizes companies that have built superior levels of engagement and work environments in which team members can thrive and want to contribute,” said Charlie Luck, president and CEO of Luck Companies, in a press release.

Korn Ferry, a global organizational consulting firm, conducts an annual study of more than three million respondents from more than 500 companies in more than 60 countries. The winners are chosen based on the largest percentage of employees who “strongly agreed” or “agreed” with the following statements:
• “I feel proud to work for the company.”
• “I would recommend the company as a good place to work.”

Winners are companies that hold one of the top three highest scores within their country and category. Luck Companies was selected as a winner in the Small Business category in the U.S.

“This success is directly related to all of our leaders remaining committed to keeping our associates engaged and active in our culture. Administering an Associate Engagement Survey each year keeps us accountable; we’re always looking to raise the bar,” said Mark Barth, chief talent officer at Luck Companies.

“People really care and they know we are going to do something about what they share,” added Luck. “Our engagement, enablement, and values scores show that people are truly invested, they truly want to do a great job, and they truly understand the mission of our company.”

So at the end of the day, the company’s success at employee engagement may have to do more with a focus on its employees and less on luck.

Peckham Industries acquires John S. Lane & Son

All production employees and most salaried employees will be retained by Peckham Industries, MassLive reports.

Peckham Industries, Inc. announced that it has completed the acquisition of Westfield, Mass.-based JSL Materials, Inc. JSL is the parent company of John S. Lane & Son and JSL Asphalt Inc. In a press release, Peckham noted that JSL Material’s operations, leadership, and more than 100 employees will provide it with expanding opportunities in New England.

“This acquisition allows us to further integrate a very important part of our supply chain in the Massachusetts and Connecticut markets,” said John R. Peckham, president of Peckham Industries. “We recognize the prominent history of JSL Materials, Inc. and the significant contribution the business has made to the region. The acquisition of JSL Materials is a very proud moment for Peckham Industries, and we look forward to the integration of these two family-owned and operated companies.”

JSL Materials Inc. has served the construction materials industry since 1980 and is a leading aggregate producer in New England. It has four quarries and one sand and gravel pit.

“We are extremely excited for John S. Lane & Son to join Peckham Industries,” added Jonathan Lane, vice president and secretary of JSL Materials. “Our shared values as family-owned companies will ensure a seamless transition as we work through the integration process. We are looking forward to being a part of the growth of Peckham Industries into Massachusetts and the surrounding region.”

FMI Capitol Advisors served as the financial advisor to JSL Materials for the transaction. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Boucher succeeds Hartery as CRH chairman

As announced last fall, Richie Boucher steps up as chairman of the board at CRH. Photo courtesy of CRH.

Richie Boucher took the helm as chairman of the board at CRH on Jan. 1, succeeding Nicky Hartery, who stepped down on Dec. 31, 2019, CRH reports. “I would like to thank Nicky for his excellent stewardship of the CRH board during his tenure as chairman and for his commitment to CRH as a non-executive director since 2004, during which time he also held roles of senior independent director and remuneration committee chairman,” Boucher said in a news release. “I and my board colleagues wish him well in the future.” The leadership change was initially announced in September 2019.

Ohio earmarks funding for workforce training

Ohio has set allocated $34 million in funding for the new Innovative Workforce Incentive Program. Image by Neon Brand for Unsplash.

The Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation and the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) announced a list of industry-recognized credentials eligible for $34 million under the new Innovative Workforce Incentive Program. The program was developed by Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly so students could earn in-demand, industry-recognized credentials.

According to ODE, the program includes $9 million in the state’s two-year budget for grants to assist school districts, community schools, joint vocational schools, and STEM schools in establishing credential programs to prepare students for careers in priority industry sectors.

School districts are also eligible to receive a share of $25 million over the current state budget to encourage the start of additional credential programs. Under this program, schools can receive $1,250 for each qualifying credential earned by students.

“When Ohio students graduate high school, they should be college or career ready,” said Governor DeWine. “This program helps schools expand credentialing opportunities and ensures potential employers that students have the skills they need to succeed in high-wage, in-demand fields.”

Ohio’s MACC Tech program (Mining, Asphalt, Concrete, Construction Technology) is among the programs approved by ODE. It provides a 12-point industry credential for high school students.

“We applaud the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, ODE, and the Ohio General Assembly for providing funding to jumpstart important, groundbreaking programs like MACC Tech,” said Pat Jacomet, executive director of the Ohio Aggregates and Industrial Minerals Association. “OAIMA members and our industry partners are excited to get started!”

Find more information on high school industry-recognized credentials here.  

Environmental agency requires cleanup of discharged limestone

The Michigan DEP ordered cleanup of limestone spilled into the Detroit River. Photo by Kahari King for Unsplash.

The Michigan Department of Environment sent a violation notice to Erickson’s Inc. ordering it to clean up limestone and other materials that its tenant spilled into the Detroit River in late November.

According to Local News 4, the dock at the site collapsed on Nov. 26, discharging an unknown amount of crushed limestone into the river, along with asphalt and contaminated soils.

Testing showed contaminant levels in the water were not detectable or well below quality standards, but the company was required to provide a restoration plant and schedule for removing the material from the river. It is also required to “consider action to prevent the exposed shoreline from further erosion,” the news outlet reported.

National Lime and Stone receives state funds for rail-truck distribution yard

National Lime and Stone will receive nearly $250,000 for a distribution facility as part of Pennsylvania’s investment in rail freight improvement projects.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf announced the approval of 26 rail freight improvement projects that he says will create or sustain more than 390 jobs across Pennsylvania.

Among the approved projects is National Lime and Stone’s plan to construct 1,600 feet of track for a rail-truck distribution facility. The state will contribute just under $250,000 to the project.

“Investing in our extensive rail freight system increases mobility options and improves the efficiency of freight travel,” said Wolf, in a GANT News report. “These investments underscore our continued commitment to building a world-class infrastructure system that supports the business community and the creation of new jobs.”

According to the news outlet, Pennsylvania has 65 operating railroads – more than any other state in the country.

WOTUS heads to the White House for Review

The 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule will no longer be in effect, barring a legal stay, on Dec. 23, 2019. Photo by John Salzarulo for Unsplash.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) final rule to replace the 2015 Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule moves toward becoming a final rule. According to the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), the rule is now at the White House to undergo interagency review. 

A replacement rule is expected by January 2020, with the 2015 rule being withdrawn in late December.

“NSSGA looks forward to a final WOTUS rule that provides clean water for everyone and legal clarity for NSSGA members,” said Emily Coyner, NSSGA senior environmental policy director, in a press release.

The association advocated “that ephemeral and isolated waters, pits and water treatment systems (including settling ponds) should never be federally regulated waters.” The proposed 2018 WOTUS rule reflected this input.

Midsouth Aggregates uses drones for inventory management and mine planning

MidSouth Aggregates implements drone program for consistent asset management. Photo courtesy of Kespry.

Kespry announced Midsouth Aggregates, part of CRH, is using the Kespry drone-based aerial intelligence platform for inventory management and mine planning. With granite and limestone reserves located throughout Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, Midsouth Aggregates produces a variety of aggregate products.

“Kespry’s drones and software really sped up inventory management,” said Jerry Adkins, senior production manager, Midsouth Aggregates. “Kespry gave us a consistent measuring tool, whereas in the past we’d use other vendors who would do LIDAR and ground surveys. They would come on site, do the flights and it would usually take a couple of weeks to get the data. Then we’d have a different vendor come in later in the year using a different method for measuring.

“We brought it all in house and inventory management became something we could do monthly with more consistency and control,” he added, noting that he now has real-time status of sales yards and pits, as well as the ability to forecast blast tonnages and verify the forecast with a flight of the muck pile once the shot is on the ground. “Kespry is the best innovation I’ve encountered in my 19-year career. It really makes our lives easier. I would recommend it to anyone. Everyone I’ve introduced it to has been blown away.”

Midsouth Aggregates also uses Kespry for comprehensive short-term and long-term mine planning, including granular analysis of pits across its operations.

“Kespry gives us the ability to look at our pits in 2D and 3D,” Adkins said. “The volumetric tools allow us to do short-term and long-term mine planning. As a mining engineer, I found that very useful. Kespry is very user-friendly so we’ve been able to train our plant managers to do the same type of planning. In the past, we’d have a mine planner doing that for us. So, that’s improved the overall outlook of how they manage their pits.”

“We’re incredibly pleased to see how Kespry has helped Midsouth Aggregates optimize its inventory management and mine planning processes,” said George Mathew, CEO, Kespry, adding that the aerial intelligence platform is purpose-built to integrate with the complex workflows of companies like Midsouth Aggregates so they can benefit from real-time reporting and analytics.

Kespry Cloud, which enables companies to access inventory management and mine planning data 24×7 on any device, has also played a major role in creating internal visibility and transparency at Midsouth Aggregates.

“The Kespry Cloud has been awesome,” Adkins said. “I can look at all of our locations in one place and get fast access to all the data. It’s a really great communication tool as well. We use it in meetings with upstream management, contractors and our hourly employees to show them mine plans and real-time photos.”