Proactive lobby key to deeming Pennsylvania producers as ‘life-sustaining’

By |  March 24, 2020
Hanson Aggregates - Penns Park Quarry Conveyor, Newtown, Pennsylvania. Photo: Zach Mentz

Aggregate operations in Pennsylvania are currently classified as “life-sustaining” thanks to the leadership of officials at PACA. Photo: P&Q Staff

Rod Martin knows full well the value of the industry’s associations.

Martin, after all, is the board chairman of the Pennsylvania Aggregates & Concrete Association (PACA). He’s also active as a member of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association.

But Martin’s appreciation for associations was reinforced March 20 after PACA officials paved the way to bring the aggregate industry within the Keystone State back to life.

By order of Gov. Tom Wolf (D-Pennsylvania), aggregate producers were among the many businesses within the state asked to close their physical locations March 19 at 8 p.m. to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Quarries were deemed as “non-life-sustaining,” meaning crushed stone, sand and gravel plants across the state would have been inoperable until further notice.

Once that word came down about the aggregate industry, representatives from PACA got to work.

“It took a lot of lobbying by PACA,” says Martin, the owner of Martin Stone Quarries in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania.

Specifically, it took PACA board members going out and connecting with government officials on this issue. But it also took PACA President Peter Vlahos and the association’s lobbyist, Hank Butler, getting the attention of Wolf and his staff to produce the change aggregate producers needed.

“It was an ongoing process all day Friday, (March 20),” Martin says. “We kept hearing there’s going to be new announcements, new waivers. By 5:30 (p.m.) we didn’t get waivers but we were added to the life-sustaining list.”

Pennsylvania’s aggregate producers would not have been successful in their venture were it not for Vlahos and Butler, Martin says.

“Peter and Hank worked very hard to convey that we are crucial to get all of our businesses classified as ‘life-sustaining,’” he adds.

That the aggregate industry was originally deemed “non-life-sustaining” came as a shock to Martin and a number of other Pennsylvania producers.

“Concrete production was [initially] allowed to continue, but mining was not,” Martin says. “Most concrete plants in our area don’t have many days of supply on the ground.”

Still, construction within the state of Pennsylvania remains at a halt at this time. Contractors operating in the state and the associations representing them and their vendors are urging the governor to reconsider. The state is currently making some exceptions on construction projects related to health care facilities, though.

If Pennsylvania construction does not resume sooner than later, producers like Martin Stone will eventually feel the effects.

“It’s a shame because in New Jersey they put a big lockdown into effect, but their highway construction is still going,” Martin says. “From what they’re being told, now is a perfect time to do it. You can get a lot more work done.”

For additional P&Q coverage related to the coronavirus, visit our dedicated webpage.

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

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