Brian Mahavier is the current chairman of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s Young Leaders group. – Ed.
Why is the Young Leaders group so important to the industry?
The aggregates industry has a long and proud tradition, but we need to make sure that there are opportunities for the next generation to gain the experience and industry contacts necessary to keep our industry growing in the right direction.
It’s important that the industry’s future leaders have a chance to build relationships and networks now, so that we can be truly dynamic heads of operations and businesses in a few years.
Moreover, by knowing where our industry has been and the legislative or regulatory issues we’ve faced in the past, we are better equipped to handle similar situations in the future. That frees up time and energy for innovation and growth.
How did you get involved in Young Leaders?
From my start in the aggregates industry more than 10 years ago at Lehigh Hanson, I worked alongside Dennis Coker, a very active participant in Young Leaders. He was always encouraging me to become more involved, but I always had an excuse on why I couldn’t attend. I’m not sure why it took me so long – perhaps because I didn’t consider myself a “leader” at the time or felt uncomfortable attending a meeting where I didn’t know anyone.
Dennis and I both ended up changing companies; however, always stayed in contact with one another. My first meeting was in 2010 when it was held in San Diego and I have attended every meeting since. Like most good things, my only regret is not getting started sooner.
What do you like best about the organization’s annual meeting?
I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of the meeting – conference speakers, operation tours, community service projects, the meeting locations, and, most importantly, the instant camaraderie. Since the group is designed for 40-year-olds and younger, everyone is at similar life stages for the most part, so it is very easy to quickly build rapport leading to instant connections.
The meeting provides such a great opportunity for people who are passionate about the aggregates industry, but who may have only a few years of experience, to interact with and learn from industry leaders. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to build relationships that will last throughout their careers.
The other great carryover effect is attending other industry events like ConExpo-Con/Agg, Agg1, and the NSSGA annual meeting and actually knowing people! Those events are so large with so many people; however, it is great to see familiar faces and reconnect with your fellow Young Leaders.
What advice do you have for up and coming Young Leaders?
First of all, come to the meeting. You will not be disappointed. And don’t come to just one – continue attending the meetings until you “graduate out” to expand your network as wide and deep as possible. You will face issues in your career that you can’t handle alone. This group provides you a forum to create a connection that you can use to help solve a future issue.
Secondly, become active in your industry even if it isn’t through the Young Leaders group. Whether it your state association or the national association, get active. Our industry is vitally important to nation’s economy and we need to protect its interests. Further, by default, you and your family have a vested interest in the well-being of our industry since your paycheck counts on it. There are plenty of opportunities for you to individually contribute:
- You can organize volunteer efforts with colleagues to help out in your communities.
- If you want to make a difference in the legislation affecting the industry, you can become active in grassroots advocacy and help get candidates elected into office who know and appreciate the value of aggregates.
- Educate your community on the importance of what our industry does.
No matter what you want to do, the Young Leaders group can provide you with a network of colleagues to support your efforts.
How is technology changing the way Young Leaders approach the Industry?
Our industry is one that really embraces technology. Loaders and haulers have such sophisticated information that they can tell the weight of the stone, sand or gravel on board and control centers can instantly tell the mix of materials going into concrete or asphalt. While it may seem to those unfamiliar with mining that we’re simply producing rocks, there is an incredible science to mining stone, sand and gravel and we rely on technology to make the greatest products in the most efficient way we can.
Also, our customers are also getting younger and are requesting truly innovative and “right now” updates right to their phones. We will continue to harness technology, since our generation truly grew up with computers and tech more than others, to refine our industry’s safety, production and efficiency.
How will the new Highway Bill contribute to bringing young people into the aggregates industry?
I think you’ve seen recently that social media is playing a larger role in our grassroots advocacy. Our industry made thousands of calls and emails to Congress asking for a long-term highway bill – and the President signed a five-year transportation reauthorization into law. There’s power in connecting aggregate advocates through websites like Aggregates in Action (www.aggregatesinaction.org) and social media. Trending topics like #transportationtuesdays were one way that people used Twitter to talk about the need for long-term transportation funding, and using social media is something that younger generations really gravitates toward.
Don’t miss the Young Leaders Luncheon – sponsored by Rock Products – at the NSSGA Annual Convention, held in conjunction with AGG1. It will take place Tuesday, March 22, 2016, from noon to 1:00 pm at the Music City Center, Nashville, Tenn.