It’s a challenge across the company. It’s a challenge across the industry. It’s a challenge across nearly every business requiring hard work and technical knowhow. It’s recruitment. And often, it keeps business professionals awake at night.
In the Indiana District, they’ve found a solution.
“Everyone struggles to find people, so we’ve been devoting quite a bit of time to identifying the right vocational schools and then building relationships with them,” said Indiana District HR and Safety Manager Jeff McIntosh. “One of our plant managers, (North Indianapolis Quarry’s) Barry Benson, came forward to suggest the program in which his son was involved, Area 30.”
Based in Greencastle, Indiana, Area 30 is a two-year program for high school students seeking an alternative to traditional classroom learning.
When students enter Area 30 as juniors, they spend much of their time becoming acquainted with heavy equipment and completing small jobs as a means to learn about each machine’s function, said Scott Livesay, a program instructor. During senior year, the program’s curriculum shifts with the aim of moving the teens beyond school and into the real world as interns.
During the 2016-2017 school year, the Indiana District accepted three of the program’s students – DJ Lacy, Kyle Scott and Blake Benson (pictured at left) – providing each with an internship at nearby Cloverdale Quarry.
Mike Mote, Cloverdale’s plant manager, said the teens were treated just as any new employee and exposed to the business slowly, safely and with proper training. In return, the teens were expected to perform as any other employee – showing up on time for their shifts, participating in the same safety meetings and completing the same tasks while adhering to the same company policies.
“I think the biggest benefit of the program for us is that each kid came in as a clean slate,” Mote said. “We were able to teach them good habits right from the start.”
Learning those good habits came along with learning many secrets of the business, the teens said.
“The Cloverdale team was knowledgeable and would answer any questions we had,” said Blake Benson, 18. “They always made us feel comfortable. They wouldn’t let us perform a task until we were confident we could do it and they were confident we could do it.”
Lacy, 18, agreed, adding that company employees were there to provide help and guidance at every turn.
“It was all about safety,” he said. “One of the most important lessons they tried to instill in us was that safety is the key to everything whether you’re running equipment, using a cutting torch or welding. That’s the main lesson I picked up.”
Lessons in safety were not relegated to Martin Marietta’s interns. While he’s always prioritized safe practices, Livesay said that working with McIntosh and Martin Marietta's Guardian Angel safety program pushed him to make Area 30 even safer. Recently, Area 30 adopted language from Martin's Guardian Angel Creed – language that is now taught to all Area 30 students.
McIntosh said he was honored to have spread the company’s safety message.
“It doesn’t get more fulfilling than that,” he said. “They’re now using the same safety principles as Martin Marietta and I think that’s great. Through that aspect of our relationship with Area 30 alone, we’ll influence generations of young people entering the workforce.”
Indiana District Vice President-General Manager Ed Gehr, a driving force behind the Martin Marietta/Area 30 partnership, acknowledged the company’s positive safety influence, but was quick to note that Martin Marietta experienced great gains as well; Lacy was hired on at Cloverdale while Benson and Scott accepted positions at Kentucky Avenue Mine.
The experience appears to have been beneficial for all, Livesay said.
“The relationship between Area 30 and Martin Marietta has so far been a perfect marriage,” he said. “These students are coming right out of high school and Martin Marietta is offering them not just good-paying jobs, but solid careers. That’s tremendous.”