Stephen P. Zelnak Jr., chairman of the board of directors, Martin Marietta Materials, and a past chairman of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), was honored at NSSGA’s Fall Board Meeting on Oct. 8 as the recipient of the 16th annual Barry K. Wendt Memorial Commitment Award for his dedication to the construction aggregates industry, his family and his community.
NSSGA’s Manufacturers and Services Division’s Past Chairman Joe Vig, president, Kolberg-Pioneer Inc., made the presentation. “On behalf of the M&S Division, we are proud to have such a respected and dedicated member of our industry to honor with this award. He truly exemplifies the spirit of this award,” said Vig.
Zelnak entered the aggregates industry in 1974 with Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan Materials Co. His five-year tenure with Vulcan was then followed by two years with Koppers Corp. in Pennsylvania. Zelnak joined the Martin Marietta Corporation in 1981 as vice president of planning and business development for its aggregates company and was rapidly promoted to positions of increasing responsibility.
He was appointed president of the aggregates company in 1982, elected an officer of the parent corporation in 1989 and promoted to president of the Materials Group in 1991. In 1994, as president and chief executive officer, Zelnak led the process as Martin Marietta Materials Inc., became a publicly traded corporation on the New York Stock Exchange. He was elected chairman of the company’s board of directors in 1997.
During his time as CEO, Zelnak grew Martin Marietta Materials revenues from $450 million to more than $2.2 billion. He was responsible for more than 70 acquisitions, which significantly broadened the company’s geographic footprint. He also devised and implemented what was a novel long-haul distribution strategy, which made Martin Marietta the industry leader in rail and/or water-distributed aggregates products.
The Barry K. Wendt Memorial Commitment Award is named for Iowan Barry K. Wendt (1946-97), a Cedarapids Inc. employee and industry leader who was universally recognized as a leader in the aggregates industry. He served as chairman of the Manufacturers Division of both the former National Aggregates Association and National Stone Association. Each year, the Memorial Commitment Award goes to an individual who exemplifies the qualities of leadership and commitment demonstrated by Wendt. It is the association’s highest individual honor and service award.