Illustrating community relations gone wrong

By |  March 1, 2022


As we put the final touches on this month’s magazine edition, an unexpected phone call came in on my office line.

“Hello?” I asked, not recognizing the number.

An unfamiliar voice responded somewhat pleasantly, asking if I recalled a certain producing company we had spotlighted on our pages in recent years. The company mentioned did ring a bell, and I noted in response that I remembered the two company leaders I visited with seeming to be “good guys.”

Well, that last remark set off the caller, whose tone immediately shifted into a gear I hadn’t anticipated when the phone first rang. The caller rather angrily went on about how truck after truck departing this particular operation each day raced by his house at speeds upward of 70 mph. The caller shared how he’d lost an animal to a speeding truck, and that his frustration had piqued because the operation’s leadership would not take his phone calls.

Perhaps it’s because his outreach to company leaders went unanswered that his outrage shifted to me. Clearly, the caller had Googled this particular company, and a story with my byline popped up. So it was my turn to be a target.

In this instance, however, that was OK. After a few minutes of letting the caller sound off, I finally squeezed a word in that those sorts of speeds in his area were not OK. My visit to this particular operation was years ago, but I vividly remember navigating some of the narrowest roads I’ve ever seen to reach it. So if trucks were indeed going 70 mph down those roads, then that behavior was unacceptable.

I went on to share that the overwhelming majority of our readers would not stand for what the caller described. Most would accept his phone call, take the situation seriously and do what’s necessary to make things right. 

Without knowing the man and perhaps the full story at hand, I genuinely sympathized for him and tried to offer some peace of mind.

Delicate touch

Photo: P&Q Staff

Aggregate producers should take truck traffic complaints from neighbors seriously. Photo: P&Q Staff

The timing of the phone call was rather ironic because, here at the magazine, we were wrapping up this month’s edition that includes a Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame profile story on Dave Thomey, a longtime Maryland producer who took an approach to community relations that was ahead of its time.

As P&Q’s Jack Kopanski writes this month: “When neighbors came to Thomey with complaints about noise, dust, vibrations and other issues, he listened.”

Again, without knowing the full circumstances around the speeding trucks, I took a page out of Thomey’s playbook, listened and showed empathy. As Thomey himself says: “You have to admit your warts.”

Producers cannot turn their backs on their neighbors. Fortunately, most do not. Both sides, after all, have to learn to live together.

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

Comments are closed