As the President of Weldon Materials Inc. Takes Over as Chairman of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, He Talks About a New Strategic Plan, Educating Legislators and Young Leaders.

As you begin your term as chairman of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), what is the number-one thing you would like to accomplish?

You cannot build a road or bridge without aggregates. Our highways cannot be paved without our materials. Our products are indispensable, and over the next 12 months, I want to work toward having NSSGA seen the same way by our member companies and the industry; as indispensable.

What are your plans to build on the work of your predecessor and continue to execute the Rocks Build America 2020 strategic plan? Is the next strategic plan in the works?

Our current three-year strategic plan – Rocks Build America – expires in March 2020. We have committed to setting three-year strategies since 2014, and I will make sure that we set a course for the association to continue its growth and success.

The planning for our Rocks Build America 2023 strategic plan will begin this year, and I want NSSGA members to capitalize on the many ways to get involved with the association this year. We want to hear their opinions on NSSGA’s priorities and resources that support their business.

I want to hear how NSSGA can be indispensable to the members.

We are two years into the Trump administration and there has been no action on an infrastructure bill. Is there potential for the administration and the new Democratic majority in the House to work together to bring about a bipartisan compromise?

The leaders of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, the group that would be responsible for writing such a bill, are truly passionate about investing in our nation’s aging infrastructure. It appears that there will be discussions and a draft long-term highway bill, but we cannot wait for a bill to develop on its own.

Almost one-fifth of Congress is in Washington for the first time in their political careers, and the real opportunity facing each aggregates operation is the chance to build a meaningful relationship with those members of Congress.

This is the perfect opportunity for member companies to educate Congress on the value of our industry; the need to rebuild our aging infrastructure; and the benefit to the U.S. economy. Inviting members of Congress to tour quarries and pits is a great first step to building a relationship with that person. As our relationships with members of Congress grow, they can better understand how to support our businesses and industry on Capitol Hill.

That way, when and if we see an infrastructure bill emerge, these representatives already know the benefits it will have in their own districts as well as across the country.

Skilled labor is still hard to find these days. How can our industry tackle its labor shortage?

There is no single solution to this problem, which I believe is one that every company in our industry is facing.

I would say that effective community outreach is critical to getting the interest of students in the many ways they can work in the aggregates industry. Geologists, mechanics, accountants, equipment operators, sales and marketing positions are just a few of the ways that people with any education or background can find a place in any operation. I think that the more we can bring people into our quarries and pits, the more people we can educate about the many jobs available in our industry.

For NSSGA members interested in tackling this topic in a hands-on way, the association has a task force open to employees of member companies that is charged with finding industry wide solutions to this challenge.

Also, NSSGA continues to work with student chapters of the association at colleges throughout the country. We are always looking for schools to become student chapters and attend our events because it increases the exposure that students have to the industry.

Why is national association membership important to business success?

NSSGA exists to safeguard the industry from overly burdensome regulations and to secure long-term, federal infrastructure funding that allows our companies to provide the materials that rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges.

Our companies are both users of infrastructure and contributors to its repair, which puts us and our national association in a unique position to discuss the need for better roads, highways or bridges and how best to modernize our infrastructure.

However, our voice in Washington is only as loud as our membership size. The more members that join NSSGA, the louder our voice becomes on Capitol Hill.

Talk about the importance of the Young Leaders group to NSSGA. Why is this group critical to future growth?

NSSGA’s Young Leaders is a truly dynamic group. It is a great way for young professionals in our industry to learn leadership lessons from CEOs and industry leaders and develop leadership and management skills. Another value of Young Leaders is that it allows the future leaders of small, family-run operations or large, international companies to build a national network of peers; exchange ideas; and discuss areas of mutual interest that will help them become more successful in the aggregates industry.

This year’s AGG1 show was very successful. Next year is a ConExpo-Con/Agg year. Talk about the importance of industry events.

Watching the AGG1 Academy & Expo grow over 10 years has been a real pleasure as a member of NSSGA; as a board officer; and now as the chairman. More than 10,000 people came to Indianapolis this year, for the largest show floor we’ve ever had, to take advantage of the most education courses we have ever produced.

Of course, every three years we focus on ConExpo-Con/Agg and we’re excited to be a part of the event each year.

For NSSGA members, our Legislative & Policy Forum, Annual Convention and AGG1 Academy & Expo are important events where our entire industry and association gathers to learn about technological advancements; hear from inspiring speakers; and network with others.

No matter how many locations a company has, or how large an operation is, we all share the same concerns. Meeting in person at NSSGA’s events allows us to come together and plan to address the issues that affect each of our businesses.

What is the best piece of business advice you ever received?

Manage and lead by walking around and be curious. Communicating face-to-face and asking questions of all levels of your organization is a critical way to stay informed.