For a mining company, Turner Mining Group is a fairly young business in the realm of digging and exploration. The demand on mining for natural resources ceases to shrink, giving new organisations a chance to bed in and enjoy returns from a number of evolving industries.
With this in mind, there is something to be said for a business that, in this sector, is capable of becoming a strategic partner and providing long-term solutions to meet growing demand.
In 2017, along came an organisation that commits to providing a trusted service and a positive attitude towards the transformation of the mining industry, proposed to drive prosperity among its site owners. Understanding the impacts of mining is one thing, but shaping them is another—Turner Mining Group is here to support partnering organisations to do just that.
The company came from humble beginnings as a small startup mining subcontractor. It now employs more than 500 workers to deliver expertise for its US partners. From copper, gold and silver to cement, sand and gravel, Turner Mining is holistically capable of delivering the goods that its clients need through excavation and load carrying.
Cue Keaton Turner, Founder and President of Turner Mining, the man behind the business and an experienced professional in excavation.
Being the entrepreneurial man that he is, Turner combines his passion for an industry he was brought up in, but recognises the need for change as the playing field evolves.
This means leveraging smarter solutions to get employees up to efficient speed in a safe way—safety and pace being key areas that allow mining organisations success in today’s landscape.
Through Turning Mining Group, he took on the challenge to build a team of professionals that will not only leverage the expertise of a historically older workforce, but encourage excitement around mining by bringing technology into the fold.
To fully understand the extent of which Turner Mining discusses its workforce, Turner himself cites a scenario whereby the leadership team comes together to focus its attention on leading, educating, and empowering employees in the business.
“I spent all day in a room with our leadership team, really experienced guys in their late 50s and 60s. We talked about our values, not about the numbers or production rates or equipment,” Turner says.
“We talked about leadership because that is the hardest part of it. Getting older, more experienced guys to work well with young, passionate people. Transferring that knowledge to them in a way that the younger ones want to receive it. It’s reinforcing, not derogatory. It’s a real challenge.”
This is one of the three core values of Turner Mining Group. Coming under the ‘heart for people’ statement, the business is also dedicated to technological innovation and safety as critical constructs for a socially responsible heavy-industry company.
“If you're not doing it, you're not doing your job. I'm that style of guy,” says Turner.
“The problem with that is you start to create a production-oriented culture. You forget about safety, you forget about excellence. It's all just a to-do list. And the to-do list never goes away. It only gets longer. So, we sat with our team and really reflected on our values.
“One of the lessons I’ve learned this year is if I’m not leading the organisation with values-based leadership, we’re never going to become the company that I think we can.”
In order to really integrate staffing as a key component of business success, Turner Mining Group devised a separate organisation from its contracted roles to enhance its perspectives for hiring new employees. The company is focused on hiring and developing team players that are excited to get involved, but also meet the business’ new-found values.
Not only does the staffing business provide Turner Mining Group with a steady stream of new talent, but this also helps other companies in the mining industry fill their vacancies—in a noble attempt to create jobs, meet demands, and build alliances.
The success of this recruitment drive has helped Turner Mining deliver personnel services to some of the biggest names in the US. As he understands the significance of its position and the scale of impact on its community, Turner is grateful for the growth that the business sees today.
Operational safety: A necessity, not a trend
With a strong social agenda, Turner is committed to not only growing the business, but meeting its employees' needs to ensure they are in good stead for the future. This is achieved primarily by the company’s efforts to keep its workers out of harm’s way, with safety a vital practice for all members of staff.
A company-wide strategic approach to safety is therefore required, as Turner himself explains.
“Safety is one of our core values. To me, safety is a living, breathing culture. You're either building a culture of safety or you're killing a culture of safety,” says Turner.
“We talk about it all the time. We just had another successful MSHA visit with zero citations and they visit every site twice a year.
“I believe as a contractor we've got to become better than the mine owner or the mine operator. If we're not, they probably shouldn't even hire us. So, we're building a world-class safety programme.”
This really echoes the firm’s duty to not only support its staff, but also bring this mindset to its customers’ sites. Understanding how to ensure its own safety criteria is met makes Turner Mining Group a suitable partner to bring into the fold and uphold on-site safety, or even help its partners to analyse and improve mining practices.
From an operational standpoint, Turner is also aware that technology is going to be ever more present on site with communication being a crucial part of safety, but also the adoption of autonomy in the future.
“I think semi-autonomous equipment is here. I think fully autonomous equipment, at least in the huge mines, is there. But it's going to be a while before it reaches scale at all mines,” says Turner.
This is an area of development that will require expertise to deliver more autonomy, which is where the company relies on its partner OEMs Caterpillar and Volvo and dealers like Komatsu and Core Machinery (formerly known as Road Machinery)—to provide the equipment and technology capabilities to add value to its service as a subcontractor.
“I think remote-operated equipment in unsafe areas is making a huge impact,” Turner explains.
“I don’t think it’s any one thing though. I don’t think autonomy is going to make operations safe on its own, because you’re still going to have humans on site.”
This culture led Turner Mining Group to some great opportunities over the years, primarily working with established organisations in mining and developing its relationship with them to provide long-term contractual work, making it a strategic partner for outsourcing machine power.
“We've had some customers take big chances on us as a young company. We've got a customer right now which entrusts its whole operation to us. And this is a multibillion dollar a year operation. And to have someone believe in our company and what we're doing, I just feel truly blessed to be a part of it, honestly.”
Moving forward, the company is seeking out much larger boots to fill, but in doing so, hopes to create a culture that will shape the lives of many.
Through safer practices, leveraging technologies to enhance the procedures that it puts in place, the company is focused on supporting the people of Turner Mining Group and equipping both the tools and knowledge to drive the company forward.