Developing the Next Generation

At ARPA, Future Leaders Program Participants 
Learn The Importance Of Community Relations.

By Therese Dunphy

The Arizona Rock Products Association (ARPA) is cultivating the next generation of industry leadership through a year-long training program called Future Leaders. It began in 2017 and allows participants to learn skills they need to succeed in the industry and as individuals.

“The purpose of the program is to develop future leaders of the rock products industry in Arizona. Many producer members, managers, and executives recognize the need for a robust next-generation group of industry leaders to sustain the industry for the long term,” said Sean Duffy, ARPA community relations director. “The future leaders bring new energy and ideas to ARPA that can be helpful in navigating an ever-changing economic, political and social environment.”

Ultimately, the goal is to help potential leaders learn ways to become involved in the bigger picture through not only their day-to-day work, but also in statewide industry issues, and to take personal insights back home to guide their personal lives.

Future Leaders fielded a total of 20 teams, with names such as the Dirty Hitters, Rock Crushers, and Road Doggs. Together, they raise more than $10,000 for charity.

Training Snapshot
Through eight training segments, the Future Leaders program focuses on areas found in the association’s three pillars: regulatory issues, advocacy, and community relations. While some of the training is delivered in a classroom style, a mix of field trips including one to an operation and a behind-the-scenes tour at the state capitol, are also part of the training program.

“We provide experiences that help future leaders understand the key issues facing our state and legislature,” Duffy said. “We don’t like to stay in the office for too long because you can get into a rut.”

One of the most popular training segments is facilitated by a third-party consultant Hardwired Coaching, which uses a psychometric assessment called the Core Values Index (CVI). Duffy said participants take a placement test that the consulting company uses to determine what amount and type of energy each individual has and how it can be channeled for their highest and best contribution, professionally and personally. At the end of the CVI training, participants know their decision-making abilities and limitations, their problem-solving acuity, and their risk aversion or propensity.

“The assessment serves as a tool for future leaders to enhance their skill set and build confidence in their decision making,” Duffy said.

Focusing on Community Relations
“We touch a lot on regulatory issues and advocacy during the program, but from the outset, we were thinking about how to incorporate community relations,” Duffy explained. “Every professional, whether they specialize in community relations/public affairs or not, contributes to shaping the image of the rock products industry by making valuable impressions within the communities they operate.”

In terms of community relations, Future Leaders arrange food drives, volunteer for park cleanups, and participate in the association’s community relations initiatives. They also create their own signature event and select a recipient organization, working to not only raise funds, but also build awareness of and support for the charity. To date, Future Leaders have raised nearly $50,000 in proceeds for various organizations including those that focus on food insecurity and helping children.

In late 2023, the Future Leaders held a charity softball tournament to benefit Natural Restorations, an organization that removes trash and graffiti from outdoor recreation and wilderness areas, revitalizes natural areas through replanting projects, and enriches the lives of military veterans and other community members.

The tournament featured a record 20 teams and raised more than $10,500 for Natural Restorations. It drew hundreds of people from around the state. “People come from all over the state,” Duffy recalled. “They have a great day with other members, family and friends – new and old.”

Growing Leaders
At the program’s conclusion, participants enjoy a graduation ceremony. For the 2023 event, a local radio personality Mike Broomhead, gave a keynote speech on leadership. Arizona Rock Products Association Chairman Martin Ramirez, with FNF Construction, also addressed the group and shared his journey in the industry, while Chair Xiola Beauchamp-Logan, with Brown & Caldwell, and Vice-Chair Joey Cilano, with Desert Ready Mix, gave a class address.

According to Duffy, recent graduates are now in leadership positions in nearly half of ARPA’s standing committees. “This program has been the single best investment in our association to date, as stated by our board of directors, executive director, and general membership,” he said. “We are continuously looking for ways to improve the program each year.”

Therese Dunphy has covered the aggregates industry for nearly 30 years, while also serving multiple roles as a public official. As the owner of Stone Age Communications, she provides communications consulting services to help aggregate producers build stronger relationships within the communities they serve. She can be reached at [email protected].

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