Hiring’s new horizon

By |  September 28, 2018
Turner Mining Group. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

Startups are some of the hottest and most well-funded businesses in America.

These nascent businesses are using new ways of communicating ideas to disrupt nearly every industry, from finance to food.

Mining, an industry dominated by longstanding and aging titans, has largely avoided disruption by keeping quiet and honing their tried-and-true methods. That is, until now.

Mining is now in the crosshairs of a new upstart out of Indiana: Turner Mining Group. The company and its founder, Keaton Turner, aim to move the earth differently than the current market-dominating players – not through genius technology, but through a new approach to hiring, breaking through the stale industry culture and offering all mine services under one roof stretching nationwide.

Forward thinking

Up-and-comers like Turner Mining Group’s Jared Daulton, above, and Patton Deischer, right, represent the future of our industry. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

Up-and-comers like Turner Mining Group’s Jared Daulton, above, and Patton Deischer, below, represent the future of our industry. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

Turner Mining Group, founded in early 2017, is a mine services company already operating from Virginia to California. It performs all kinds of mining work, from drilling and overburden removal to crushing and reclamation.

Founder and president Keaton Turner noticed a number of companies serving the aggregate and cement industries are fragmented and localized. He sought to create the nation’s first mine services-only contractor capable of providing topnotch service anywhere in the United States.

The newly founded company is growing quickly and already has a backlog of 20 million tons of material to be mined over the next 12 months.

“Our aim is to be a nationwide service provider that is trusted, dependable and always priced competitively,” Turner says. “We no doubt have to battle the stigma of a nationwide provider that can’t offer a competitive service compared to the smaller local guys.”

So, how is Turner Mining Group staying competitive and maintaining rapid growth? The obvious challenge with growing operations in an aging industry is the ability to find motivated people who are willing to relocate to projects anywhere at anytime. Many companies operating in the aggregate space feel this pinch, and the pressure is only expected to grow stronger as retirements accelerate within the next five to 10 years.

Turner Mining Group. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

Deischer. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

“If we aren’t forward thinking now and replenishing those jobs with ambitious guys and girls from the younger generation, then we are setting ourselves up for failure in the long term,” Turner says.

That’s where Turner’s approach diverges from traditional mining and sets an example for others to follow.

The approach

To find talented people who can move dirt on aggregate sites across the U.S., Turner Mining Group targets the next generation via a largely untapped form of communication within our industry: social media.

“The whole thought process behind exposing our company on social media was the access to young talent,” Turner says. “If these young people are spending their free time on Instagram and Facebook looking at pictures of mining equipment and large earthmoving operations, then the chances are pretty good that they’re passionate about our work.

“They don’t think of it so much as a job that they are required to do but more of an activity that’s fulfilling, well-paying, always changing and pretty darn exciting,” he adds.

Turner Mining Group’s social media campaign is so successful that more than half of its 75-employee workforce originated online. Turner’s workforce is estimated to double by early 2019, and social media is the company’s best recruiting tool to accommodate the growth.

While sharing what happens daily across mining operations is somewhat unsettling, Turner Mining Group embraces the change in communication as a reality of the next generation. Turner weighed the pros and cons and decided that the benefits of sharing were far greater than the potential downsides.

Turner Mining Group primarily took to social media to access an untapped pool of talent, but its social media efforts also allow clients and potential employees to get a feel of the company culture and mining operations before ever stepping foot on site.

Finding motivated people who are willing to relocate is a challenge, but Turner Mining Group fosters a culture that entices people to want to work in industry jobs. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

Finding motivated people who are willing to relocate is a challenge, but Turner Mining Group fosters a culture that entices people to want to work in industry jobs. Photo courtesy of Aaron Witt

“The younger generation wants to be involved with something exciting, growing and forward thinking, and that’s what we strive to achieve,” Turner says. “In order for us to employ and retain talented young people, we have to first create a different culture and then broadcast that culture in order to lure them in.”

Even with the success Turner Mining Group enjoys, there are struggles to overcome with social media – like any other technology. The biggest challenge the company faces is training so many inexperienced people along with the safety concerns that come with green employees on site.

Still, Turner views training not as a burden, but as an investment.

“If we don’t make the investment into training the next generation of miners, who will?” he asks.

With a positive attitude toward training and a young, moldable company culture, training is a cornerstone of the company’s new approach. By pairing experienced miners who work for Turner Mining Group as foremen and supervisors with fresh new faces, the company fosters an environment where lessons are regularly passed down.

“We have many older, experienced managers that have seen and done it all in this industry, and our crews rely on them to help pass their knowledge of operations and safety onto the younger workforce,” Turner says.

Experienced managers looking out for people, combined with software to track safety inspections and meetings, fosters a safe learning environment while still meeting production goals.

The bottom line

Mining has served our society for centuries, but if the industry does not adapt to the rapidly changing world, there won’t be a next generation of miners to keep the industry moving forward.

Turner Mining Group recognizes the changing times, and through social media and its outlook on inexperienced yet hungry young people, the company has created a new model that serves as an example for the rest of the industry.
While it’s easy to get caught up with quantities and production, the aggregate industry ultimately is still a people business.


Aaron Witt is managing director of BuildWitt Media Group.

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