Hundreds of Martin Marietta quarries cut across the continental United States in a nearly unbroken chain between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Most hold one feature or another that is particular to their location – a specific gravity to the rock or a specific challenge of the landscape, for example. Few, however, are as unique as the Martin Marietta operation in Cove, Arkansas.
“It was a struggle,” said Blair Joynt, who spent a decade with Martin Marietta before taking over as Hatton Quarry’s plant manager in 2012. “I’d say it took our management team a year to figure out the best – or at least what we believe to be the best – ideas for this place.”
Hatton truly is a quarry like no other. Its rock, a relatively rare type of stone called rhyolite, is spread over 7,000 acres in narrow veins no wider than 300 feet. As a result, the quarry has no large pit, but rather a number of small pits scattered across the grounds. Because of this, the haul distances between the pits and the plant vary and present the Hatton team with a significant challenge that it tackles head on.
“We began building roads and were able to cut our haul distances significantly,” said Joynt, who left Hatton earlier this year after being promoted to area production manager in the Arkansas District. “Cutting down the distance allowed us to free up a haul truck, which in turn helped lower our production costs.”
With decreasing production costs came increasing gross profit, but those weren’t the only numbers moving in the right direction. Hatton, for the first time in recent memory, has opened two veins of rock and is working with multiple rock faces. The team has made substantial additions to the operation, including a new drill that has eliminated the costs of a contract driller and eight belt scales that have improved inventory management and accuracy. The team has also increased its community presence in recent years and, in 2015, hosted its largest school tour to date – a group of more than 70 high school students and teachers participating in a program for college-bound teenagers.
Foreman Denson Broach said the team is proud of its efforts for the business and community, but that pride alone isn’t what makes Hatton successful.
“It’s our commitment and focus on safety. This team is good at making the right decision,” he said. “Because of the challenges we face here, it also takes a great deal of long-term planning. It’s critical that we constantly look to the future to stay ahead.”
For Arkansas District Vice President-General Manager Todd Wheeler, who served as the site’s first Martin Marietta plant manager in 2001, the team’s Diamond Honor Award is extra sweet.
“We were missing a piece or two, but I knew the workings were there,” he said. “Today, it just flows in from the front gate and moves through the entire operation. Each person has a sense of pride in Hatton Quarry and a sense of ownership. You can hear it in their words and see it in the product and the way they treat our customer base. They truly care.”