For over 30 years, Covia has encouraged me to pursue opportunities that have helped me grow as a manager and as a mentor. I’m grateful for the valuable skills and lessons I’ve learned in my time at Covia as well as the chance to pass those same skills on to the next generation as I near retirement. Looking back at my career, I couldn’t imagine working with a kinder and more talented group of people.
Mining & Geology: A Family Trait
I grew up in a small town in Montana. My dad’s family were cattle ranchers and my grandfather was an amateur prospector who owned a small silver mine. Every summer, a geologist friend of my grandfather would visit the ranch to tramp around the hills of Montana. I was extremely interested in their work and, looking back on it now, the two of them were the first to help spark my interest in geology and mining.
In my college years, I attended Montana Tech and pursued a degree in petroleum engineering. After graduating, I found work on an offshore rig along the Gulf Coast. However, due to a prolonged period of inactivity on the rig, I made the decision to leave and return home with hopes of furthering my education. It was during this time that a former member of the Covia Team from my hometown reached out to me about a potential opportunity as a Safety and Health Quality Control Supervisor at Covia's plant in Guion, Arkansas. Since I couldn’t make a can of tuna stretch like I used to back in my college days, I figured that I might as well check out the opportunity.
During the beginning of my time with Covia, I worked in various positions across the operations department and in several states including Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. I enjoyed getting the chance to work in varying roles across different locations as it helped me gain a better appreciation for my coworkers and culture.
In my current role as the Director of Mine Planning and Geology, one of our primary responsibilities at Covia involves scouting potential mining locations and determining their viability. Using USGS maps, we can discover places to take mineral samples for testing to determine if the land is suitable for mining. Once our team decides on a location, we ask the most important question of the process, “is it safe to mine here?” This is critical when we’re considering where to build a mine. In addition to safety, one of our main priorities is ensuring long-term ecological preservation. Once we determine a potential site meets our strict safety, environmental, and logistic standards, we move forward with community meetings, site planning, determining the economic viability, and mine production.
Fostering a Strong Community
I currently live in Arkansas and enjoy being surrounded by the beautiful hardwood forests that populate the Ozark region. In my free time I like to garden and go antiquing with my wife. We love visiting antique and flea markets to find cool treasures. I like to think I’m always searching for gems both at work and at home.
Covia has been wonderful at encouraging me to grow both in and out of the office, always providing opportunities to take on more responsibilities, discover my niche, learn new things, and grow. I love that everyone is eager to lend a hand and help when able.
I think what stands out to me most is that Covia has fostered an environment that makes the plants feel like family. When I first started, there were seven pairs of fathers and sons working operations at the Arkansas plant – some of which were third generation miners.
During my time as a plant manager, I worked hard to foster the community that we had built there, encouraging a selfless environment where each Team Member feels comfortable to speak up and contribute. One of my proudest accomplishments is that I was able to build a tight-knit community for my team.
Another achievement I am especially proud of is that the plant I managed was awarded the Top Large Plant in Safety one year. This was a remarkable achievement for an underground mine with hundreds of employees. At the time, we had reached six straight quarters with no citations and no workplace accidents. One of my highest priorities has always been making sure everyone gets home in the same shape that they arrived in. Safety is critical to long-term success. Covia empowered me to develop a safe environment for my team that remains strong to this day.
Developing a Brighter Future
The energy at Covia right now is unmatched. There is a lot of enthusiasm and excitement as the company continues to make great business decisions and bring in tremendous new talent. I continue to believe that the organization’s main strength is its employees. I’m looking forward to expanding my role as a mentor to help guide this new generation of talented Team Members. I will be facing retirement soon and feel confident that these young professionals will continue the work that my generation started – taking Covia to new heights.