Company understands ‘give-and-take’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2004

“CEMEX, as a company, is community minded,” said John Laney, manager of the Demopolis cement plant. “We realize it’s a give and take. We take natural resources out of the Earth and turn them into a product, which we sell for a profit.

“…At the same time we feel an obligation as a company (CEMEX’s corporate philosophy)…to the community that we’re located in.”

The local cement plant was named the Business of the Year by the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce during Monday’s annual banquet.

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CEMEX has owned the Demopolis plant since November 2000, and it is one of 13 CEMEX plants in the United States and 52 worldwide.

It is the largest cement manufacturer in the U.S. and North America. The corporate headquarters is in Monterey, Mexico, and the U.S. headquarters is in Houston, Texas.

The local plant currently employs 97 people; that has been a constant number in the three years Laney has been manager.

The plant produces bulk cement powder, which is shipped by rail, truck and barge.

CEMEX facilities work under a system called the “CEMEX Way” which standardizes processes, practices and operational systems as the global corporation grows through acquisition.

This process helps improve the plant’s overall operation. “We’re customer driven,” Laney said

“We set a cement production record this year, and we also set a cement shipping record.” The local plant production for 2003 was 969,607 tons; the total cement shipments for 2003 was 973,998 tons.

As a corporate citizen, the plant has always been supportive of the Demopolis City Schools Foundation. CEMEX has also contributed to Christmas on the River, Freedom on the River, the Two Rivers Arts Council, along with numerous community organizations, which Laney said deserves to be supported to make Demopolis a better place to live.

Demopolis has warmly welcomed the Laney family into the community, he said. “Moving into town (three years ago), the people have all been very friendly. They’ve been very welcoming; they’ve been very open.”

He and his wife, Sheron, enjoyed making the move to Demopolis, Laney said.

In addition, Demopolis is located just three-and-a half hours of the granddaughters in Mandeville, Louisiana. “They are a very important part of our personal life,” he said.

The Laneys have two sons, John lives in Louisiana and Chris lives in Chicago.

A former plant manager, Lou Schlumbrecht, also had clued the Laneys into the benefits of Demopolis, while they were living in California.

In terms of business, Laney said Demopolis had a quality workforce. He takes note of “the teamwork and the way people work together here throughout the organization, not just any one department.

“What (you) see here is something you won’t see all the time,” he said. “The teamwork here and people’s positive attitudes and their willing to work together and try new things to improve and get better is very evident in what we’ve been able to accomplish.”

Also, “the company actually uses Demopolis as a training ground. We bring young engineers in. They are here a year or two years with the idea that at the end of that period of time they will rotate out to another plant.

“CEMEX also has a ‘shadow training’ program in which they will take an individual from another country that might have potential to move to this country,” Laney said. “Demopolis was selected as the plant to send that person to – to learn about the U.S. and how we do business.

“That gentleman (a production manager from Mexico) has been here since November, and he will be finishing up in the next week. He will have been here for three-and-a half months.”