Vulcan’s Hill addresses the industry in South Carolina

By |  December 5, 2023
Tom Hill, chairman and CEO of Vulcan Materials, addressed members of the South Carolina Aggregates Association at their 2023 Workshop & Exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: P&Q Staff

Tom Hill, chairman and CEO of Vulcan Materials, addressed members of the South Carolina Aggregates Association at their 2023 Workshop & Exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: P&Q Staff

Vulcan Materials chairman and CEO Tom Hill delivered a keynote address Tuesday at the South Carolina Aggregates Association (SCAA) Workshop & Exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina, touching on the state of various components of the aggregate industry.

Hill offered insights on construction markets, the workforce, safety and AI while offering an assessment of South Carolina as a place to do business.

“If you look at what’s going on in South Carolina from a DOT (department of transportation) perspective, it’s going to be an exciting seven years,” says Hill, whose company operates 18 facilities in South Carolina. “Everybody says: ‘Well, IIIJA (the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act) is a five-year bill and it started two years ago.’ Yeah, but I will tell you it takes two years to get that money elected and [to] put it to work.”

According to Hill, South Carolina is expected to receive $3.2 billion of the federal funding IIJA puts out.

“We’re just on the verge of seeing that IIJA money go to work,” Hill says. “When you couple that with your local funding, it’s going to be a pretty good future.”

Funding isn’t the only factor working in South Carolina’s favor, he adds, as the state is now one of the fastest growing in the nation.

“You’re growing faster than Georgia – and with Atlanta that’s saying something,” Hill says. “And you’re growing faster than Tennessee – and with what’s going on in Nashville [that] is saying something. So, your future is pretty exciting.”

And, as Hill describes, population growth is ultimately what drives demand for aggregates.

“If you look at this from Vulcan’s perspective – and South Carolina fits this – we have the right products, which is aggregates,” Hill says. “We have the right markets, which is growing population – population growth from both a private perspective and from a public perspective.”

On the workforce

More than 350 people are on hand for the South Carolina Aggregates Association’s third Workshop & Exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: P&Q Staff

More than 350 people are on hand for the South Carolina Aggregates Association’s third Workshop & Exhibition in Columbia, South Carolina. Photo: P&Q Staff

The workforce, which was an SCAA Workshop & Exhibition focus earlier Tuesday during a panel discussion Martin Marietta’s Jim Thompson moderated, was also on Hill’s mind during his keynote.

Specifically, Hill explained how young people who choose a career in aggregates have an opportunity to be an entrepreneur at an early age.

“Where else can you run an operation independently in your late 20s and manage a dozen or two dozen people to keep it running yourself?” Hill says. “What that makes you is you own that business like that.”

When later asked about the industry’s workforce challenge during a Q&A with the audience, Hill offered several pieces of advice.

“We’ve got to attract young people to this business,” Hill says. “We need to spend the time and explain to them what to expect when they start this job.”

Additionally, Hill says producers must make employees feel like they’re part of a team when they go to work.

“Everybody wants to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves and win,” Hill says.

Hill argues producers must also provide pathways for employees to grow.

“We’ve got to invest the time in our young people, make them feel a part of it, make them feel successful, give them an opportunity to learn and a path to success,” Hill says. “The last one I will tell you is … pay them. That’s the simplest of all the things.”

On safety

Another audience question shifted Hill’s commentary to safety when asked about the things that keep him up at night.

“[It’s] safety,” Hill says. “That hasn’t changed in 40 years. We’ve come a long way as an industry, but the mining business still very much has inherent risks.”

Related: 2022 SCAA Workshop & Exhibition recap

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

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

Comments are closed