When Martin Marietta acquired Rio Medina Quarry in June 2011, the site was deemed too hazardous to remain in operation.
"Before we took over, they had an operation that they knew was going to be sold so they basically did as little as possible," says Leadman James Puente, a 16-year Martin Marietta veteran who has worked at Rio Medina since the acquisition.
Six months before any of the site’s limestone was sold under the Martin Marietta name, staffers worked to repaint and repair some machines and reposition others to increase efficiency.
All physical safety concerns were eliminated, but the true challenge, says Plant Manager Jason Jones, was getting the crew of new and transplanted employees to buy fully into the Company’s safety culture.
"You had guys who were doing a good job, but they were doing what they thought was best," says Jones, who served at Rio Medina for almost two years before moving to Martin Marietta’s new Medina Rock & Rail site in February.
Jones says he attacked the problem on several fronts, reminding the team of the Guardian Angel Gold Star incentive program as a means to increase upstream activities such a near-miss and observation reports, and bringing structure to the operation by assigning each miner tasks suited to his skill set.
The results are clear; production jumped from about 645,000 tons in 2012 to nearly 1.5 million tons in 2014, production costs decreased by 36 percent in the last two years and gross profit rose by 178 percent from 2013 to 2014. There hasn’t been a reportable incident at the site since the acquisition.
Pat Kinser, Rio Medina’s current plant manager, says employee morale – which was already high – has reached new levels since this year’s Honor Plant winners were announced.
"They feel they’re part of an elite group, which they are," Kinser says. "I wish you could have seen their faces when they heard. They were pumped because they know Honor Plant doesn’t happen to just anybody. You have to earn it."