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In era of COVID, producers long for industry camaraderie

By |  October 12, 2020

Videoconferencing was somewhat exciting at the start of the pandemic.

But months on end of Zooming and hopping on Microsoft Teams – with few, if any, in-person events weaved in between – has taken a toll on a number of people.

Undoubtedly, this includes those in the aggregate industry.

Photo: Pat Jacomet

Jacomet

“I know I am ready to get out and do something with other people,” says Pat Jacomet, executive director of the Ohio Aggregates & Industrial Minerals Association (OAIMA). “It’s human nature to want to be around other people and converse.”

But after ConExpo-Con/Agg, industry meeting after industry meeting hit the chopping block.

Hillhead 2020? Pushed back to next summer.

MINExpo International? Postponed until September 2021.

2021 industry events aren’t untouchable at this juncture, either. The International Society of Explosives Engineers’ 47th Annual Conference on Explosives & Blasting Technique, originally scheduled for Feb. 7-10 in Orlando, Florida, was canceled. And industry friends are whispering to each other about the status of other trade shows and meetings that are currently on the 2021 calendar.

Finding opportunities

Aggregate producers, equipment suppliers and others remain hopeful about 2021 events. While 2020 is a disappointment on this front, people understand why trade shows and meetings have fallen by the wayside.

Still, the desire to congregate with industry peers is building the more people are confined.

Some industry leaders are finding opportunities to physically get together, though. The Missouri Limestone Producers Association (MLPA), for example, successfully hosted its Summer Business Meeting in early August, attracting more than 70 members to Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri. The event included a golf tournament.

Headshot: Morgan Mundell_MLPA

Mundell

“It was an interesting event for us because our golf tournament usually sells out one or two days before the tournament happens,” says Morgan Mundell, executive manager of MLPA. “This year, we sold out five weeks early, and we had a 30-person wait list at one time.”

Mundell chalks up the interest in the meeting and golf tournament to pent-up demand. Ultimately, he left going through with the festivities up to MLPA members.

“The board had a discussion two to three weeks before our meeting,” Mundell says. “There were wide-ranging opinions about the severity of the COVID-19 situation. But we had record attendance for our summer meeting. We changed the complete format for the meeting and spread it out across an entire ballroom.”

Social distancing measures were in place during the meeting, with four people to 10-ft. tables that typically seat eight to 10, Mundell says. MLPA also brought in a couple speakers virtually.

In Ohio, OAIMA was slated to host an Ohio Mining & Mineral Educational Program Golf Outing on Sept. 21. The annual outing was originally scheduled for July, but the event would have been the first corporate event to take place at the host venue since the beginning of the pandemic.

Bumping the outing to September gave OAIMA more time to feel out the environment for hosting an in-person event.

“We didn’t want to be the guinea pig,” Jacomet says. “We wanted to see how things went. They (the venue) have a couple [events] under their belts now and a good system in place. We know what we need to do to ensure the health and safety of our members and also provide them with a good time.”


Featured image: P&Q Staff

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is the editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry magazine. Yanik can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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