It’s been a long drive from St. Cloud, Minnesota, but when Tim Kuball pulls into the rocky parking lot at Guernsey Quarry, the reaction is well worth the journey.
Ty Blocker is there with a hug. Mindy Ducheneaux and Plant Manager Tom Clay aren’t far behind.
It’s been months since Kuball, now a plant manager at St. Cloud Quarry, ceded control of Guernsey’s day-to-day operations to Clay. When others at the site learn that he’s returned to visit, there are handshakes and slaps on the back and plenty more hugs. This is just the environment at Guernsey, which is home to a small crew that rarely exceeds 15 people.
Clay says it’s a culture that has come about precisely because of the team’s small number.
“It’s my belief that you never ask someone to do a task that you wouldn’t do yourself and most of our team seems to share that belief,” Clay says. “When you’re out here and everyone is working so closely alongside one another, everyone’s attitude improves. When we’re short-handed, everyone else picks up the slack. They know it’ll come back around sooner or later. It’s that type of effort that makes the team so close.”
The crew may be small, but the rest of the operation is anything but.
On a clear day the big Wyoming sky over Guernsey extends for miles until finally it’s broken by the Rocky Mountains. Beneath that sky is a long list of places where the team’s donated rock has made an impact; the local high school, swimming pool, county fair and baseball field are just a few. Guernsey’s grounds hold five different types of valuable rock, a fact that goes a long way toward explaining why the site’s financial successes in recent years have been so many.
Strip all of that away, though, as you would a layer of heavy overburden, and it’s clear that Guernsey’s success all comes back to its people.
Eli Garcia Jr., who has worked on the night maintenance crew for the past four years, said relationships at the quarry that first formed over discussions of safe practices and the work environment eventually evolved into much more.
“It’s a family we have here. Yes, it’s the small crew, but it’s also because everyone has worked together for so long,” he says. “Now, it goes beyond work – even when dealing with people and emotions, everyone is very helpful. We’re all out here for each other.”