Poteet crew’s milestone just one more stop on safety journey

Experience and commitment lead Texas team to 500,000 injury-free hours

Hard working. Professional. Knowledgeable. Driven. Safe.

The list of adjectives company leaders have used to describe the Poteet Sand Plant team is expansive, but as crew members pause to celebrate their accomplishment of reaching 500,000 hours without a reportable injury and continuing their journey to 1 million hours and beyond, their new leader has a few more adjectives he’d like to add.

“One of the first things I was told before joining this team is that it’s probably one of the most experienced we have,” says Kyle Pfitzinger, Poteet’s plant manager since April 29. “I was told this was a solid team that is committed to safety and committed to each other. From what I’ve seen, everything I’ve heard is true.”

While stressing the word “experienced,” Pfitzinger notes that six of the site’s 10 employees have worked at the plant for more than 20 years. Perhaps none of these employees is more familiar with the grounds than Weighmaster Roy Esquivel Jr., whose father began work at Poteet long before it was owned by Martin Marietta.

“My dad came here in the late 1960s to help open the place up, and they built him a house right here on the property,” Esquivel says. “I grew up just steps away from where they’d park the equipment at the end of the day.” 

Esquivel, who has worked at the sand plant 35 miles south of San Antonio for 20 of his 38 years with Martin Marietta, says safety wasn’t the Poteet team’s focus way back when.

“It just wasn’t pushed,” he says, referring to the days when, as a child, he would occasionally ride alongside his father in the cab of the loader. “It was very much a numbers game based on production.”

While safety did improve gradually over the years, Esquivel says it wasn’t until Martin Marietta’s Guardian Angel program really began to take hold in the early 2000s that the team was able to take truly meaningful steps forward in safety.

“Once everyone bought into the culture, it made a big difference,” he says. “Now, we follow the Guardian Angel Creed every day, and none of us are afraid to shut things down if we have to. We have toolbox meetings every morning to discuss our safety concerns and perform a job safety analysis before every project we do. Safety matters here.”

Understanding that the Poteet team has long functioned safely without his presence, Pfitzinger says his primary mission is to help the crew continue its incredibly strong performance.

“I know that I’m joining a team that has had tremendous success, and my job is to help us keep it going,” he says. “The amount of pride they take in doing their jobs and going home safely is huge, and they really take the Guardian Angel message to heart. I want to provide whatever assistance the team needs."