Hunter Stone brings Diamond Elite trophy to the Lone Star State
Southwest Division crew claims its first Diamond Elite Award
"My mother was very sick, and when she passed away, it was just my immediate family [at the funeral], we had a very tiny service, but at the end, I looked back, and there was my entire crew,” Lisa Rogers, office manager and self-described cheerleader for Hunter Stone, said through tears. “Every single one of them came to me and hugged me and said, ‘It will be okay.’ And that’s the way we are with each other. … We’ve created that type of environment.”
That is the feeling of Hunter Stone; it is all about the group.
The crew starts in a circle each morning, stretching to whatever music they decide to jam to that day.
Then, after their safety meeting, they head to their stations, fist-bumping, laughing and chatting along the way.
This friendly and welcoming mentality fuels every shift at the south central Texas site.
This fellowship is among the many aspects of the team Rogers loves, and the one aspect she feels helped the crew stand out as a Diamond Elite winner.
“Our morale is at such a high level here, and we value each other,” Rogers said. “We know when to be serious and when it’s good to laugh. We leave the safety meeting in the morning and are happy because that sets the tone for the whole day.”
Another factor, Rogers says, is leadership.
Hunter Stone Plant Manager Pat Kinser has been with Martin Marietta for over 35 years. Working his way up from the Mechanical Maintenance Department, Kinser has overseen the team since the site opened in 2017.
Every team member boasts about Kinser. They joke with him, confide in him and know that, no matter the issue, he is there, standing in their corner no matter the cost.
But Kinser will be the first to note that the crew makes him the leader he is.
“This team that we have here, they take pride in their work and pride in their jobs. They want to be the best in what they do; that makes my job as manager much easier,” he said. “We have an open-door policy. We want to ensure that everyone has what they need and that they know we’re here for them.”
One thing that is always on the crew’s mind, and in their pockets, is safety.
Every member of the Hunter Stone team carries a gold coin symbolizing ZERO incidents, a feat the team has achieved since its opening six years ago.
They show it off every morning, keep it close to their chest throughout the day and tuck it away securely every night.
“The Guardian Angel culture is always on our mind here at Hunter Stone. It’s always talked about in our meetings,” Safety Lead Wesley Bynum said while showing off the coin he keeps attached to his car keys. “It’s a reminder to be safe and successful every day.”
Beyond the coin is the caring, said Office Administrator Christina Oliva. She believes the team’s closeness – often displayed as brother/ sister type banter – is what drives safety and keeps the work fun.
“At the end of the day, safety comes down to trust, and I can tell you, I trust every single person here,” she said.
So, when leadership announced the crew had won, it was an “epic scenario,” as Kinser described it.
“When Pat and Lisa said we won the Diamond Elite, people just went crazy; we were just yelling and screaming,” Bynum said. “Honestly, it took about three or four days to really set in that we were named the best, and then, when the trophy arrived, only then did it really set in…we had won.”
Perhaps the most surprised was a newer member of the team, Plant Operator Patrick Perez.
Only being on site for nine months, Perez went from working behind a desk at a loan company to working behind a console in a control tower. Eagerly, Perez involved himself in as many different facets of the site as he could.
“I applied to Martin Marietta because I saw an opportunity to make a career here,” he said. “It was a big transition, of course, but I have absolutely no regrets. Every day is a learning event; the best part of my job is talking with everyone and working as a team.”
Still, it was a shock for Perez, and it took him a bit of time to fully grasp the new world he was stepping into.
“It’s like coming into the league and getting put on the championship-winning team, but now that I truly know what it takes to win the award, I can see exactly why we won,” he said. “The opportunity we provide, having ZERO safety incidences and operating as a team, these are the factors that make us Diamond Elite.”