The aggregate industry’s resilience paves a pathway forward

By |  December 8, 2020
Will Pierce


Our country finds itself at a crossroads in many ways.

Many issues that affect people outside of work are finding their ways into our businesses and operating environments. The most obvious and jarring example is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic that swept across the globe. Not only is the loss of life tragic, but the virus’ unprecedented effect on our economies and the ways in which business is conducted have been truly astonishing in both scope and impact.

I would be remiss to avoid noting the scale at which the pandemic affected our daily lives, but I’m focused on the positives, as well as the room for improvement in our operating environment.

American resilience

The U.S. aggregate industry proved resilient through these turbulent events.

Political leaders, while at loggerheads on so many issues, do seem to agree that putting people to work and improving our nation’s infrastructure is a priority. States are acting strongly to get people back to work, and they are paving the way for this industry to play a leading role in rebuilding our economy on the backs, roads and rails of a true economic powerhouse: the aggregate and construction materials sector.

With unemployment rampant in many other areas, our industry remains strong and vibrant. There are many people currently out in the labor market who may look at careers in this industry as ones that are lasting and fruitful, both for personal vocational development and to be an integral part of the fabric of our country.

Building for the future

The vision in this industry continues to look to the figurative horizon.

2020 has been one for the record books in more ways than one, but it only increases the importance of our industry’s collective products – for both producers and equipment manufacturers.

Strife has a way of elevating strength and isolating weakness. As this year comes to a close, companies in general are more prepared for uncertainties ahead. They’ve looked inward at their people, realizing that human capital is often the most important asset on the books.

Projects being planned today show the hope our industry has for the future, with new mine sites and upgrades to existing sites underway across the country. Manufacturers of all kinds are tasked with improving reliability, training a new generation of operators and innovating equipment with modern goals in mind.

Our company is focused on developing safe and effective products that reduce producers’ impacts on their local environment, especially water resources. Operators now expect a degree of automation or remote monitoring and control with every physical asset in the plant.

Manufacturer availability in terms of product support and parts on the shelf are imperatives in today’s operating environment. These advances in the industry will serve to improve safety, increase uptime and allow producers to do their job more effectively and efficiently.

The path ahead

The world needs reliable, sustainable and efficiently-produced aggregate and construction materials for every facet of modern life. COVID-19 might have shifted the way we interact and conduct day-to-day human operations, but the demand for our products is only increasing.

As manufacturers, we can create more trust – and more business – by building safety into everything we design, continuously improving the reliability of our products, and lowering the cost per ton of our customers’ products through efficient and dependable equipment.

We can all advocate for our industry through the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, as well as state and local organizations by regularly letting our elected leaders know the value and necessity of what we produce. Outreach to our local communities is also critical to promote education and awareness of the vital role we play in creating good jobs and low-cost, local construction materials, as well as the impact of the dependable roads, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure we help build countrywide.

Will Pierce is vice president of engineering at Schurco Slurry based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Featured image: PamElla Lee photography

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