Your behavior appears to be a little unusual. Please verify that you are not a bot.


Solutions to the aggregate industry’s people problem

By |  May 24, 2022
Pennsylvania State University’s William Rothwell says periodic conversations with employees will reveal issues about their working conditions. Photo: izusek/E+/Getty Images

Pennsylvania State University’s William Rothwell says periodic conversations with employees will reveal issues about their working conditions. Photo: izusek/E+/Getty Images

The aggregate industry’s people problem, exacerbated over the last couple of years by the Great Resignation, persists midway through 2022.

This problem came up last month during an interview with Turner Mining Group’s Thomas Haun. The first of three values at Haun’s company centers around people, with Turner Mining “building a team that feels like family” and “holding each other ruthlessly accountable for our collective well-being.”

These concepts are at the foundation of Turner Mining, which was established in 2017. I bring up my interview with Haun because, during it, he characterized the industry’s approach to people in a way I had not heard before, juxtaposing our strength in operations with our weakness in developing long-term employees.

 “Producers are really good at mining,” Haun says. “It’s their business. I think, frankly, equipment and equipage of any site is just critical. I think a lot of attention and focus, rightly so, leans that way when you’re thinking about an owner of a mine or a producer.”

Yet, when it comes to people, Haun argues that producers and others have underinvested.

“And I don’t necessarily just mean dollars,” he says. “I really do mean focus and attention on the people side of our business.”

Fortunately, producers have an obvious opportunity to present their technology as a means to entice people and elevate their standing with the employees they want to hire and develop.

The concept of utilizing technology as a selling point to prospective employees came up during a recent interview with BulkSource’s Craig Holman.

“You’re seeing a new generation of leadership coming up through these quarries,” Holman says. “Whether it’s a family-owned business, corporations or small or midsized operations, everybody has a smartphone. Everybody is using Amazon and Uber Eats. The expectation that your professional life has some component that’s modern as well is becoming more of what I would say is an ‘accepted norm,’ rather than an outlier in legacy industries like the aggregate industry.”

Similarly, DSC Dredge’s Charlie Johnson recently touched on this topic.

“What if I could automate the dredge so that every operator was optimized,” Johnson says. “In a lot of cases, we don’t want to necessarily replace the operator, we just want to make him Superman.”

Yet another theme that surfaces in Pit & Quarry’s upcoming June issue is the idea of investing in technology as a means to replace people. While there is value in making investments for this reason, producers, at the end of the day, will remain dependent on people in the years to come. So taking a different approach to people – or a much more invested one, perhaps – will be necessary for producers to sustain themselves into the future.

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.

Comments are closed