By Tina Grady Barbaccia
Boulder Dash Makes a Bold Statement
Hosting a run through the quarry promotes healthy living, employee camaraderie, and community education.
The aggregates industry has long suffered from the “Not In My Backyard” (NIMBY) mentality because its operations are often thought to be dirty, unsafe, and a nuisance to the community. But opening up the operation to the community for a 5K (3.1 miles) “Boulder Dash” race through the quarry, followed by a spring fling party, has helped Lafarge’s Cumming, Ga., location clear up these misperceptions.
“Quarries are a mystery to the community,” explains Jason Teter, vice president and general manager of Lafarge’s Georgia aggregates operations. “It is an excellent opportunity for Lafarge to make a lasting positive impression on the community.”
Teter, who ran the race last year and is planning to run with his wife and 1-year-old daughter in a jogger this year (the race is slated for April 16, after Aggregates Manager press time), says the comments he heard during the race last year demonstrate the positive impression the race makes on the community.
“I heard so many people say, ‘I can’t believe how clean the quarry is,’” Teter points out. “They assume because dirt and rock — stone — come out of it, that it is a dirty place. But we take a lot of pride in keeping a clean operation. This is an opportunity to show this to the community.”
Creating a positive atmosphere goes a long way if the operation needs to get a new permit or get a new piece of property zoned, Teter says, especially because the operation is in an urban, densely populated area with a residential area, hospital, commercial businesses, and retail stores as neighbors.
It is events such as the race that can really help make the quarry an integral part of the community by giving back, he says. Nearly 1,500 people from the community participated in the race.
The 2nd Annual Boulder Dash 5K Run in the Quarry starts at the local hospital (Northside – Forsyth), a race co-sponsor, and goes down the pit’s road to the scale house, circles the base pile, passes under the conveyor, and back out of the quarry.
“People do not know what to expect when inside the gate,” Teter says. “This race has helped to create a positive perception of our business in the community. It also allows our employees to show off their work place. This means a lot, as the quarry employees take great pride in their work.” The Cumming Quarry’s plant manager approaching Teter about painting “Home of the Boulder Dash” on the loadout bins is proof of this pride.
In addition to the benefits of improved community relations, Teter says, the race gives the site an opportunity to stress the importance of health as part of what it does. “We really push safety and health at Lafarge,” Teter says, “but in the past, we have overlooked the health side. This is a great opportunity for the families of those that work at Lafarge to get out and do something active together.”
Lafarge picked up the cost for any employees who wanted to participate in the race. It’s a small gesture, Teter says, but in a difficult economic environment, it helps demonstrate appreciation for employees and shows them Lafarge really values health. It also builds solidarity amongst employees. “My operations manager and I go out and train together,” Teter says. “It motivates people. We have created an informal competition with my direct group. It builds a bit of a team and gives employees something positive to hang on to in difficult times.”
The proceeds of the race help fund the Forsyth County Parks and Recreation Department’s “Envision a Fit Forsyth” project. Last year’s proceeds went toward nutritional guides and signs at various intervals along the Big Creek Greenway, a fitness path in the community where the Cumming operation is located. The guide shows the relationship between exercise, good nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.
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