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Gary Batey - Plant manager focuses on philanthropy

April 19, 2006|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

Initially, Gary Batey was reluctant to proceed with the interview.

"I don't want this thing to be about me," said Batey, plant manager at St. Lawrence Cement.

"He doesn't like the limelight," said the company's human resources manager, Bob Klinger. "He's not the type to hang up his trophies in his office or brag about his accomplishments."

He's just one of those guys who goes about doing the right thing, quietly, said Victoria Mock, the plant's environmental manager.

As plant manager, Batey's job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the plant. During his two decades at St. Lawrence, his workers say, Batey has made philanthropy a priority.

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The company started a club that lets retired employees vacation twice a year at the company's expense. Batey also started a program that explains the hazards of playing in quarries to elementary school students.

The company donated concrete benches and tables to parks and schools, has provided transportation to senior citizens and sponsored Little League teams.

The company also donated some of the trees that line Dual Highway, Klinger said.

"The mining industry isn't terribly popular," Batey said. "We make dust, we dig holes in the ground. This is our way of giving back to the community we do business in."

"We appreciate the community for allowing us to do business, so we have an obligation to give back," Batey said.

Plant workers mine a 103-year-old limestone quarry, a 200-foot-deep pit with a teal pool of water at its base and a tree-lined landscape on its horizon.

Batey, a Seattle native, has been at the plant since the mid 1980s. During that time, he has seen a lot of employees come and go. He said the hardest part was seeing them go.

But Batey has a chance to reunite with a few of the company's retirees through the Ambassador Club, through which the company's former workers take group trips twice a year at the company's expense, Batey said.

Past excursions included bus trips to Pennsylvania Amish country, to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and to Luray Caverns in Virginia.

Members of the Ambassador Club give plant tours and are involved in the company's open houses and seasonal parties, Batey said.

The program was started in 2003, said Klinger, who thought of the idea.

Mock said she was surprised at how much Batey had done when she started working at St. Lawrence six years ago.

She said Batey recently coordinated a citizens advisory panel of neighbors and Hagerstown residents, stakeholders who will be included in some of the plant's activities.

"You've got to put a face on business," Mock said. "We're not just some smokestack sitting here. We need to be a responsible corporate citizen."




Q&A

Name - Gary Batey

Date of birth - April 4, 1948

Address - Hagerstown

Occupation - Plant manager, St. Lawrence Cement

Most notable achievement - Probably my kids.

Your proudest moment - Getting to meet my grandkids.

Who is the person you most admire and why? - Ronald Reagan. I think he was a great leader. I think he had a vision, and part of the vision was for the world to be free of communism. He was also a good communicator.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Who gave it to you? - Well, it was probably from my father and it had to do with how to handle the politics of the job. I remember complaining to my father about the job and the politics and thinking if I could just do my job, everything would be OK.

I expected him to say "Look son, don't worry about the politics. Just do your job." But that's not what he said. He said, "You better get used to it because politics are part of the job and you better get used to that just like the technical part."

What is the next goal you would like to achieve? - "How about more grandkids?"

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