LehighHanson’s Franz Peters, outgoing chairman of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) Young Leaders, agreed to an “exit interview” as he stepped down from his position. Here is what he had to say. – Ed.
What was the best thing about being the leader of the Young Leaders for the past year?
There’s been so much excitement and growth within Young Leaders (YL) this year. Every event we’ve held has exceeded our expectations in terms of participation and attendee feedback. We had a record number of individuals applying to serve on the YL Steering Committee, which is YL’s governing body.
Other industry groups have asked to come to our events and sit in on our meetings so they can see how we operate and start their own YL groups. Being at the head of all that momentum has been incredibly exciting – and humbling.
What did the group accomplish over the past year?
The past year has been hugely successful for YL – not only did we celebrate our 25th anniversary, with our highest-attended annual meeting ever last April in Arizona, but we initiated a new YL reception at NSSGA’s first-ever Legislative & Policy Forum/Fall Board Meeting. We wanted to get more YLs involved in advocacy efforts and saw this event as a first step toward connecting rising leaders with their members of Congress to talk about infrastructure issues.
Although we planned for about 40 attendees, we were very pleasantly surprised to have more than 100 YLs and alumni at the event – which also turned out to be the most highly rated event at the LPF. We’re looking forward to building on that success this fall as we hold another YL reception at the 2018 LPF – though we will plan on a much larger venue!
We also just concluded the 2018 NSSGA Annual Convention and AGG1 Academy & Expo, where YL held a luncheon, with keynote speaker Navy SEAL David Sears. Sears spoke with our group of more than 200 YLs about applying the SEALs’ decision-making tactics to our own operations, and about how to identify mentors and mentees in order to build a strong support network.
What do you see as the group’s number-one priority going forward?
We want to keep growing and providing even more value for our members. YL began as a single annual meeting and has expanded to several in-person events throughout the year. What other opportunities can we give rising professionals to help them develop in their careers? We need to keep examining what YL offers and whether that’s meeting our members’ needs to support their professional growth.
Why should others consider being part of the Young Leaders?
Simply put, YL provides the foundation for aggregates industry personnel to grow both professionally and personally. We do that through exposing YLs to experienced industry leaders and professional speakers, encouraging them to learn from others in our facility tours and to give back through community service, and providing numerous networking opportunities.
Regarding the networking, it can be intimidating for a new person to show up to a meeting where they don’t know anyone – it definitely was for me! However, new attendees are always surprised at how inclusive the group is. The YL Steering Committee makes a concerted effort to reach out to first-timers and make sure they know what to expect from YL, what to bring to the meeting and how to make the most of their experience.
The relationships people make through YL can last a lifetime – I know of many YL alumni who not only rely on their YL contacts for business relationships, knowledge sharing and career advice, but are also truly good friends who constantly keep in touch and even go on vacation together.
Why is Young Leaders participation important for the companies they represent?
I can’t overstate the importance of the relationship building that takes place within YL. Creating a network of people that share a common interest and similar business knowledge is valuable towards bouncing ideas around and reaching out to for advice. There is just no substitute for those kinds of connections.