P&Q Hall of Fame Profile: Paul Detwiler III

By |  April 29, 2015

14-detwilerProducer positioned family-owned company for tremendous growth

A high-volume aggregate producer doesn’t become a top U.S. producer overnight. A series of growth-related moves are usually made, and those moves are typically made over a period of years, even decades.

New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc., a Pennsylvania-based aggregate producer with more than 90 years of history, has followed that model of periodic growth. Several men orchestrated New Enterprise’s growth over the years, including Paul Detwiler III, the current president and CEO of the family-owned company.

“The quarries have always been the backbone in how New Enterprise started,” says Jim Barley, New Enterprise’s vice president of sales who’s worked for Detwiler and his family for 41 years. “Over the years we grew into a large construction company, as well, not just doing blacktop paving but building bridges and new highway construction. We were and still are in the concrete paving business, as well as the blacktop paving business. These were a source of use for the materials we produce.”

Acquisitions increased the amount of materials available to New Enterprise over the years, and Detwiler and his father, Paul Detwiler Jr., were instrumental figures in the growth the company achieved.

“Typically, your expansion comes from acquiring somebody else,” Detwiler III says.

Seeking growth

New Enterprise is regularly active trying to rally support for highway funding.

New Enterprise is regularly active trying to rally support for highway funding.

New Enterprise made two key acquisitions in the early 1970s in Martin Limestone, a producer in Lancaster, Pa., and Valley Quarries, which was located in Chambersburg, Pa. The company’s next major acquisition came in 2000, when Buffalo Crushed Stone was brought into the fold.

“Prior to purchasing Buffalo Crushed Stone, all of our quarries were in Pennsylvania,” Barley says. “With that [acquisition] came multiple blacktop plants and ready-mix business. It put us into the state of New York in an aggregate and blacktop business where we had never been before.”

Another major acquisition was made in 2008 with the addition of Stabler Cos. That brought Eastern Industries into the family. The timing of the acquisition, with a recession that soon followed, wasn’t ideal. The recession forced New Enterprise to rethink how its companies were organized.

Detwiler III led a reorganization effort about two years ago that resulted in cost reductions, efficiency improvements and top-line improvements such as selling price.

“We reorganized about three times in the last year and a half, consolidated from five different construction materials entities and consolidated them about three different times,” Detwiler III says. “We’re now in essence running all three of those as more of a New Enterprise entity with the local branding and operations in three regions: eastern Pennsylvania, western Pennsylvania and the western part of New York.”

Al Stone, who joined New Enterprise more than two years ago as executive vice president and CFO, worked alongside Detwiler III in the reorganization.

“In our particular case, [New Enterprise] went through quite a rough patch when the Great Recession hit,” Stone says. “In our industry, it was virtually a depression. [Detwiler III] recognizes the need to change.”

The company’s reorganization included a significant downsizing. The decision to downsize was a difficult one for the family and not a “typical New Enterprise move,” Stone says, but it was necessary for the company to survive and reposition itself for prosperity.

“To me, it would have been so easy for the family to say, ‘I don’t want to do this, let’s sell the entire business and walk away,’” says Stone, adding that the company has virtually doubled its profits in the last two years. “They didn’t, and I admire the heck out of them for their devotion to the family business and wanting to do what was necessary even though it was very difficult to do.”



 

Career path

Although Detwiler III’s current role is administrative in nature, his experience with the family business formed in a number of areas. After graduating from Lehigh University, Detwiler III started with New Enterprise in its IT department. He says he worked on the company’s mainframe programming applications, and as PCs evolved, he got involved in those.

“I got involved in plant automation, and I still do some of that,” Detwiler III says. “Back in the early 1980s we had written [a program for] an online scale ticketing system. There were a couple out in the world at that point.”

Also, Detwiler III helped to put New Enterprise online in real time with data circuits during the ‘80s.

“There were others doing it,” he says, “but we were out there in the beginning as far as having information in real time versus a batch process.”

Detwiler III took over as CFO in the early 1990s and held that position for about 15 years, before taking over as president and CEO.

“He’s grown up in the industry and grown up at New Enterprise,” Stone says of Detwiler III. “His experience helps us a great deal.”

Detwiler III and his father are men his employees enjoy working for, as well.

“They’re very creative and very well-liked individuals,” says Kevin Reed, New Enterprise’s executive vice president and COO.

Stone agrees that Detwiler III and his father are great people to work for.

“They listen to your issues,” Stone says. “They’re incredibly supportive, patient and loyal.”

Industry advocate

13c-detwilerDetwiler III is a supporter of the greater industry through his efforts with associations, including the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA). He’s currently the chairman of NSSGA, prioritizing the implementation of Rocks Build America, the association’s strategic plan to rebuild the nation’s crumbling transportation infrastructure, create jobs and drive economic growth.

Detwiler III values the national association because of its ability to advocate on behalf of others.

“We’re one of the more regulated industries,” he says. “A single company can’t [advocate] on their own.”

Detwiler III is optimistic about the passage of a long-term highway bill these days because infrastructure is actively parts of decision-makers’ discussions.

“The fact that everybody seems to be talking about it is good,” he says. “I don’t know if it will happen by May. I’d love to see that happen, but there’s enough talk and discussion now that it’s on people’s minds.”

According to Barley, Detwiler III’s involvement in NSSGA ultimately benefits New Enterprise.

“It would be easy not to involve yourself in the different trade associations because it’s an investment of your time and resources,” Barley says. “But his involvement tells me that he looks at the bigger picture and the good of the whole industry.”

Photos: Paul Detwiler III and Family / New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. Inc

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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