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Rock Solid

February 2014

Vulcan Materials Company

Vulcan’s Havre de Grace Quarry overlooking the Susquehanna River.

Vulcan’s Havre de Grace Quarry overlooking the Susquehanna River.

Signs marking the entrance to Vulcan Materials Company are tucked in greenery along Route 155, where the Piedmont Plateau rapidly gives way to the Atlantic Coastal Plain.

From the picturesque roadway just outside Havre de Grace, passersby see little of what drivers crossing the I-95 or Thomas Hatem bridges into Harford County observe: barges piled high with bedrock; tugboats scurrying about, helping barge captains navigate the last mile or so of the Susquehanna River to the headwaters of Chesapeake Bay; and a patchwork hillside showing active, inactive and reclaimed areas of excavation.

This difference in perspective holds true elsewhere when considering Vulcan: the Havre de Grace Quarry is part of a much larger company, that, through mergers and acquisitions, turned a family-owned enterprise founded in 1909 into a publicly-held Fortune 1000 company at the foundation of the country’s post-Depression economic recovery and, shortly after, WWII-era construction projects.

Vulcan’s Havre de Grace Quarry makes little rocks out of big rocks. How little, well, depends. Construction aggregates produced here are used as a base material underneath highways, runways, parking lots and railroads.

With Port Deposit and its famous granite just across the river, Tom Carroll, East Region director of business development, notes, “We produce a ‘granite’ as well – the material is excavated and processed through a series of crushing and screening equipment into various sizes used in the construction industry to make ready-mix concrete, asphalt and other related products. In addition, we produce larger sizes of stone known as rip-rap and armor stone used for shoreline stabilization and on projects like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the Hail Cove Living Shoreline project and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Port Isobel Island breakwater.”

Hit hard by the recession and the resulting dip in construction, Vulcan is on its way back. In a news release about Third Quarter results, Vulcan chairman and CEO Don James, says, “A 9 percent increase in aggregates volume helped drive a 20 percent increase in aggregates gross profit … Growth in residential construction activity, and its traditional follow-on impact on private non-residential construction, continues to underpin our expectations for future volume growth and earnings improvement.”

Vulcan acquired what was then known as Arundel Quarry from Florida Rock Industries in 2007, as part of a massive $4.6 billion deal that expanded Vulcan’s presence in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast markets. Vulcan’s Havre de Grace Quarry employs about 50 people, with another 60 people employed by the marine division that serves the quarry as well as Vulcan operations in Delaware, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina.

Another perspective that might need a bit of refocusing is that, despite its size and reach, Vulcan Materials Company is a good neighbor and corporate citizen. Choosing his words carefully, Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty says, “Florida Rock wasn’t community spirited. We have quite the opposite with Vulcan Materials.”

The Wildlife Habitat Council recognizes 147 conservation education programs in 45 states, the District of Columbia and 12 other countries. The WHC certifies 43 Vulcan quarries and operations centers. In 2012, the Havre de Grace Quarry received the Corporate Lands for Learning certification for its innovative partnerships with neighboring Meadowvale Elementary and North Harford High School’s Natural Resource and Animal Science magnet program, as well as for making its wetlands available for hands-on educational activities to all Harford County students.

In 2008, a Vulcan tugboat crew operating under Capt. Henry Knott was honored for rescuing a woman who jumped from the Hatem Bridge. In 2007, Vulcan received a Harford Award for its community participation and environmental stewardship.

“The City of Havre de Grace is proud to have Vulcan Materials as a community partner and steadfast supporter,” Dougherty says. “They contribute to city-wide events, organizations and projects. They provide unwavering support for our public safety resources, including the ambulance corps and the hose company. The success of many of our parks and rec projects is a direct result of Vulcan services and materials. Vulcan has improved the quality of life here.” I95

Vulcan Materials Company