Agg Man of the Year 2011
“My family was committed to finding great people, getting them involved in the organization, and giving them a clear idea of our mission and our vision,” Mellott adds. “It became the most important success factor that has contributed to the development of our company.”
Shortly after beginning succession planning efforts, Mellott’s uncle died at 64 years of age, and the third generation members considered how — as part of the company’s long-term legacy — they could create value for their employees, customers, and business partners.
During a conversation with Charlie Luck IV, Mellott learned that Luck’s family business was participating in a value-based leadership program offered by a Texas-based Caterpillar distributor. Mellott was intrigued by the concept and joined the program. “We changed our company for the better,” he says of the initiative. “We adopted five values: safety, integrity, commitment, respect, and excellence.”
Safety became the company’s first priority and number one value. “We started amazing programs: incentive plans, daily toolbox meetings, team meetings, and also empowered every employee to make a difference at their work area,” he says. As a result, the manufacturing group went seven years without a lost-time accident. “Everyone wanted to beat their record,” Mellott recalls. Through staff lunches, company leaders sat down with employees and communicated their goals and vision for the company, and the employees embraced their philosophy. “We ended up with a million hours without a lost-time accident, and our company’s culture changed,” he says.
“We have developed our company over the years from a company without a human resources or safety director, and one that didn’t have computers and didn’t have fax machines, into a company that has developed a clear mission and vision for the company: We strive every day to add value to our customers, and we want to add value for our employees,” Mellott says. The company invests not only in training, but also in providing the tools and equipment employees believe they need to do the job safely and efficiently. “We want our employees to feel they have a company behind their best interests,” he adds.
In January 2008, H.B.Mellott Estate, Inc. and Mellott Enterprises, Inc. merged into Mellott Co. During these last three years — when many companies have downsized their staff and not hired new employees — Mellott Co. has committed to hiring and training new people. “We feel that the future of our industry is going to be stressed by not having enough people coming into the industry wanting to work on crushers, with crushers, with equipment that crushes rock,” he says.
Developing community partnerships
Finding quality employees is a challenge for many operators, and one Mellott has met head on. Nearly two decades ago, he recognized the need to improve educational quality and opportunities for local students, and the company adopted the local school. Mellott worked with an 8th grade teacher and visited the classrooms with guest speakers every two weeks. The theme of every speaker was to share his or her personal story about the importance of obtaining a quality education. “I spoke to the students at the beginning of the school year and talked to them about our industry, but also discussed how important education would be to improve the quality of their life,” he said. The students were sent on field trips at the end of the year and required to write papers about their experience.
“Paul has always had a genuine interest in the next generation of aggregate leaders,” says Ward Nye, president and chief executive officer of Martin Marietta Materials and 2006 AggMan of the Year. “He has been generous with his time, his thoughts, and his counsel — and it has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many.”
Mellott Co.’s school partnership has transitioned to the high school with the entire senior class visiting the campus for a mock job interview a month before graduation. During the half-day program, students tour the operation as well as meet with various managers to go through the interview process. Because it is now part of their curriculum, they receive a grade for their senior project based on their interviews. “It’s really cool; these young kids come in all dressed up and eager to learn about the interview process,” Mellott says. “They have a great time, and we really enjoy it.”
The partnership has been embraced by the staff. Every year, some of their family members are among the students visiting the company campus. “They see us give back, and they feel the company really cares about the community,” Mellott observes.
Last year, the partnership added another element to the job interview/campus visit with the seniors participating in value-based training. Mellott managers visited the school throughout the year and gave the entire senior class a presentation on each of the five values. The students then prepared their annual project, which had to be associated with a volunteer effort. A group of Mellott managers listened to each senior’s presentation and awarded five $2,000 scholarships for those who most exemplified each of the company’s core values. The five scholarship winners have committed to return to the school at this year’s Christmas break to participate in a values panel discussion with the current senior class.
“We’re actually teaching these kids what values are, what our values are, and how to relate to values,” he says. “This is one of the programs we’ve been developing over the years to build a successful team.”
Building political influence
Another area where Mellott has been particularly effective is in building the aggregate industry’s influence on Capitol Hill. As he worked with various state and national associations, he learned how important it was to educate the public about what the industry does and how its products are used. “A lot of people have no idea what we do,” Mellott explains.
He carried the industry’s message to the public while serving on the boards of the Pennsylvania Aggregate and Concrete Association and the North Carolina Aggregate Association, as well as when he served as chairman of the board of both the Maryland Aggregate Association and the NSSGA. During that time, his friend Tony Basolo encouraged him to dedicate his energy to building industry clout in Washington, D.C.