When I arrived in Tulsa to manage the Lafarge Cement Plant (now Central Plains Cement Company), the facility suffered from low name recognition from a history of very little community participation. While the facility had over 100 employees at the site near Owasso, our first official survey after I hit the ground noted a less than .5 percent name recognition of our business and similarly poor understanding of what our facility produced.
A team at the cement plant created a earth science education curriculum for 5th grade students called Oklahoma Rocks & Minerals and we tasted Waller & Company with getting out and selling this to the schools and on-boarding teachers. Boy did they. By the end of the first year we had exceeded our enrollment goals four-fold and able to grow the reputation of the program with Waller’s creative and exceptional service.
Their team helped us know only as a traditional PR partner, pitching and securing positive media coverage of our endeavor in major and smaller newspapers, magazines and television broadcasts. They also helped us with less conventional assistance, from lading classes when staff was short, train new employee ambassadors to go into the schools, develop our logo and all branded collaterals handed out to teachers (such as recycling bins for the classrooms and backpack for the graduates).
As our name awareness grew, more and more of our staff were stopped in grocery stores or at chamber meetings and told how much the program was appreciated. Due to a combination of the work of all our employees, operational improvements, marketing partner efforts, and sales team diligence, we began to see improvements in plant revenue in spite of a difficult economy for construction customers.
We conducted a follow-up name survey 18 months after the launch of the OKR&M program. This survey cleared reflected that our name recognition had increased by double-digits. Even more important, our plant was now know for being an active community benefactor and more respondents knew what we mined and produced at our facility.
While at the plant, I worked with the Waller team for a total of five years. Our little geology class has grown to instruct more than 1,400 children per school year and garner media attention every semester. Though I am at this moment in the process of moving to a new assignment in Illinois, the now highly profitable Tulsa Plant has just been bought by Eagle/Central Plains Cement Company, and the new owners are committed to supporting the OKR&M program into the future.
The creative energy, hard work, and constant “gut checks” we received from Waller & Company helped my staff of employee volunteers stayed trained, motivated and recognized for their impact in the schools.
Central Plains Cement Company