Martin Marietta’s Ward Nye says building bridges is key to success

| Published on March 21, 2013

Ron Summers (left) ends his tenure as NSSGA's 2012 chairman of the board and passes the gavel to Ward Nye.

Ron Summers (left) ends his tenure as NSSGA’s 2012 chairman of the board and passes the gavel to Ward Nye.

During the closing session of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) annual meeting, CalPortland’s Ron Summers passed the gavel to Ward Nye, president of Martin Marietta Materials, as incoming 2013 chairman of the NSSGA.

The rest of the newly elected 2013 executive board includes:

-Paul Detwiler,III, New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co., Inc., first chairman;

– Charles Luck, IV, Luck Companies, second chairman;

– Mark Helm, Dolese Bros. Co., secretary;

–  Dennis Coker, Natural Resource Partners, LLC, treasurer;

– Ron Summers, CalPortland, immediate past chairman; and

– Gus Edwards, NSSGA, president and CEO.

“We need to approach an alliance, not as individuals, but as a team,” Nye says of his goals for the membership in the coming year. “We’ve been through an incredible period of time. We starting to see some light.”

To keep the industry on track as the market improves, operators must remained focused. “Part of what we have to do is remember what our mission is. It’s about advocacy, legislation, health, safety, and community relations,” he adds. “Those issues will keep us strong and drive our success in the future.”

During Nye’s tenure as chairman, his focus will be on building bridges, he says, noting that what worked in the past may not be the key to future success. He says that the world is changing, and operators need to be prepared to compete in a global environment.

Nye notes that the association can’t lead on all fronts. While a focus needs to remain in areas such as safety, he says the key to success on transportation issues is through coalitions. “We have to marshall support for transportation,” he says. “We are not big enough and we are not wealthy enough (to do it alone).”

Coalitions, on the other hand, can have a “profound impact” on such issues. He suggests building bridges with several different audiences, including state associations, other construction materials constituencies, and, in particular, governors, and speaking with one aligned voice to these groups.

Nye points to states such as Michigan and Virginia as laboratories where new funding formulas are being developed. Governors in such states have recognized the weaknesses in federal funding and are taking a lead on the local level.

“I’m going to suggest to you that we need to build stronger relationships with state governors,” Nye says. They, in turn, can take the message of the importance of transportation to national leaders and push the issue from another direction.

As the aggregates industry builds these bridges, the overarching goal, Nye says, is to increase the size of the “pie” rather than fight for individual slices for aggregate, asphalt, cement, or concrete. “Anyone who is off message on that in other association needs to be taken to school,” he says.

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