P&Q Profile: Wm. D. Scepaniak’s John Scepaniak

By |  April 23, 2019
Headshot: John Scepaniak

Scepaniak

John Scepaniak represents the third generation of his family to come through Wm. D. Scepaniak, a contract crusher that currently produces more than 6 million tpy of sand. Scepaniak was brought up in the family company by his father, Joe, who taught him the ins and outs of the industry along with his cousin, Tony.

You joined Wm. D. Scepaniak immediately after graduating from St. John’s University in Minnesota in 2014. What has your career path been like in your five years at the company?

In high school and college, I did work for the company doing odds and ends. Since then, I was helping around crushers with teardown and setup, so I spent plenty of time doing that.

We got a contract for a road rebuilding job and made the decision to expand our crushing fleet. We got a rental [crusher] from a dealer, but needed somebody to operate it, and said ‘Hey John, have at it.’ So it was baptism by fire.

My cousin Tony helped mentor me around the plants. It was a two-week crash course. It wasn’t without its fair share of issues, but it was good learning how to run a crusher myself and manage people.

What are your responsibilities as project manager?

What I do on a daily basis covers a lot of different areas. I deal with everything safety related: paperwork, correspondence with MSHA (Mine Safety & Health Administration), site inspections.

I’m also doing a lot of oversize and overweight dispatching where I’m coordinating with drivers. E-log systems are new for us this year, too, and anything with environmental reporting with air quality, permitting for new plants.

I’m hiring and allocating human resources to our crews. I talk with employees about how the year went, what crew they want to work on, what they want to do. I work a lot directly with our people. My days are mostly filled with setting up crushers and tearing down crushers.

Who in your family or company has mentored you?

Scepaniak was brought up in the family company by his father, Joe, who taught him the ins and outs of the aggregate industry along with his cousin, Tony. Photo courtesy of Wm. D. Scepaniak.

Scepaniak was brought up in the family company by his father, Joe, who taught him the ins and outs of the aggregate industry along with his cousin, Tony. Photo courtesy of Wm. D. Scepaniak.

My dad, Joe, is one of the co-owners of the company. He’s worked really closely with me. One of the advantages of working in a family business is you’re able to discuss work things at the dinner table.

I wasn’t afraid to ask questions. The worst thing you can do is pretend to know. There are no stupid questions. It was a pretty open-door policy with my dad. He has years of experience and has dealt with a lot of things. Tony is in the same boat. So they’ve been really helpful.

Do you contract crush only or do you have your own pits?

It’s a combination of both, but the scales of those aspects are skewed heavily. The majority of what we do is contract crushing. The retail stuff really pales in comparison to contract crushing, which is the meat and potatoes of our business.

What demand is there for contract crushing right now?

Demand is pretty strong. We’ve been fortunate to align ourselves with customers who have no issue selling products we’re manufacturing for them.

Looking back, we were [traditionally] in Minnesota [along] with South Dakota, but also Wyoming, a project in Colorado this year, some stuff down in Iowa. So we’ve really broadened our horizons of where we’re working. A lot of customers are nationwide, so our willingness to go where they want us has really helped the relationships.

What states do you currently cover? Are you looking to expand?

After a certain point, you go where the customers need you to do work, as long as the money is right and our employees are cool with us working out that far. A majority of the people in our company are local people, so it’s a collaborative vote on what we’re doing and where we’re working. There are no boundaries of where we wouldn’t go in the lower 48.

As one of the 20-largest aggregate producers in the country, what upcoming projects or jobs are you most looking forward to in 2019?

With sand and gravel, we have a lot of repeat customers. A lot of that is in Minnesota and North and South Dakota. Those are the ones you stick with.

New customers can open new doors, but we always get excited about the pits we go back into the second, third, fourth year in a row. But we do like to challenge ourselves with capabilities of contract crushing. We pride ourselves in doing the work that is difficult.

What was your impression of AGG1 2019? Did you see any interesting technology you want to incorporate into the business?

I really enjoyed Indianapolis. The city was nice, tidy and organized. The show itself was awesome. There were lots of education seminars to sit in on and learn. It’s a chance to hear from people in the industry and see how we can incorporate their notes into our business.

To see new equipment and technology, manufacturers and dealers, is always exciting, too. AGG1 is a little more tailored to our industry specifically.
We met with a few different equipment manufacturers to talk about material-producing technologies, just some different tweaks we can do to the plants we’re running to meet some more difficult specs.

Droning is big. I have a drone that I fly for our stockpiles. It’s cool to see technology like that in the industry. Any way we can streamline data acquisition from the field is going to be helpful to us in the long run. Automation of heavy equipment will be interesting to see how that works and how that plays in our industry.

Fill in the blank: 2019 for the aggregate industry will be…

Exciting. For us, we’re in some really good markets and it seems like demand is up. Depending on an infrastructure [bill] passing, it’s only going to snowball that. We have a good private customer base. I’m excited because I think internally we’re building a stronger team to take on bigger challenges.


FIVE THINGS

Best advice received: “You’re never too qualified to sweep the floor”

Sports: The Minnesota Vikings. MMA/UFC Bellator.

First job: Sweeping the floor, cleaning garbage bins, helping out wherever I could.

Travel spots: Miami. New Orleans is nice. But I’m a cold weather fan, so if I could go on vacation it would be snowmobiling in West Yellowstone, Montana

Hobbies: Going to the gym. Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A couple of car projects, a 1978 Datsun 280Z. Spending time at home with my wife.


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