Aggregates and minerals processing has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, and it still is to this day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, women made up less than 15% of the workforce in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industries.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, we asked a few of the women in our dealer network and on the EIW team about being a woman in the male-dominated aggregates and mining industries and what advice they’d give to other women looking to enter the industry.
Process Machinery, Inc.
Jennifer Ratterman has spent most of her life in and around the aggregates industry. In 1979, her father founded Process Machinery, Inc., EIW’s dealer in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, Alabama and northern Mississippi. Although unsure if she would stay with the company after graduating from college, she took a position in inside sales with the parts department and fell in love with the people and ever-changing environment.
“Working for a family business, early on in my career I made it a focus to learn every facet of our business. Understanding the working knowledge of the different functions of the business allows me to be a more effective leader and manager. I have cross trained and worked multiple areas of our company to energize my operational knowledge,” said Ratterman, who held roles as Human Resource Manager, Asphalt Products Business Manager and Purchasing Manager at PMI.
Now, as one of the principal owners and Executive Vice President of Process Machinery, Inc., Ratterman oversees product support, administration and safety for the company. With a positive attitude, hard work, drive and perseverance, Ratterman treats every day as an opportunity to learn and grow.
“I meet so many great people in this industry,” Ratterman said. “There is always something new to learn and people are willing to teach and help you grow in your career. I love that I am able to take on new roles and new challenges. And my children think it’s really cool Mom goes to work every day for a company that builds rock crushing plants!”
Ratterman said her father has been an incredible mentor throughout her life, teaching her that a person is only limited by the restrictions they put on themselves.
“You have to be open to new opportunities and realize these are often presented when you are not seeking it,” Ratterman shared. “I encourage anyone who wants to grow in this industry, or any other for that matter, to network with others, always be learning something new, stay focused and work hard toward your goals. Share you passion, and tell people about what you do!”
Process Machinery, Inc.
Carolyn Barnett, Inventory Control Coordinator at Process Machinery Inc., grew up on a farm, working in tobacco, gardening and helping with the animals. In high school, she took classes in welding, electrical and automotive, as well as industrial machine maintenance, which helped expand her knowledge of tools, parts and how things function. At 19, she purchased a dump truck and hauled gravel for people for many different applications.
“I never really thought about what it took to get rock down to that size until I started working at Process Machinery Inc.,” Barnett shared.
Starting as PMI’s Warehouse Coordinator in 2012, Barnett is now in charge of purchasing, receiving, quality, inventory replenishment, transportation, pricing and new item creation in her role as Inventory Control Coordinator. She attributes her success to self-motivation, attention to detail and a strong work ethic. She also enjoys learning new things, which is necessary in the ever-evolving industry.
“I don’t care how old or young you are, you will always learn something new in this industry,” she said.
Barnett’s advice for women who are thinking about entering or are just getting started in the industry is not to hesitate.
“Women are a lot more welcomed than you think,” Barnett said. “You will learn so much from the experienced people, so keep them close.”
Old Dominion Equipment and Supply
Ivy Medina is the second-generation of women in her family to get into the aggregates industry, following in her mother’s footsteps as Parts and Inside Sales Manager at Kemper Equipment and Old Dominion Equipment and Supply, EIW’s dealer in Virginia and West Virginia.
“I was basically raised in this company,” Medina said. “I started out here with simple things such as sorting nuts and bolts and filing paperwork, which evolved into answering phones and helping with accounting. From there, I graduated into procurement and purchasing and then into sales.”
Like Ratterman and Barnett, Medina’s favorite part of working in the industry is learning new things.
“There are always new things to learn, new technology or approaches to processing material. Some people may think it’s just rocks, sand, dirt and asphalt, but there is so much more to it,” she said.
Medina said her success comes from working through a lot of mistakes and by putting enthusiasm into everything she does. She encourages other women to always keep their heads held high.
“You will undoubtedly make errors – overcome them!” Medina said. “You will be surprised to find how passionate mostly everyone is in this industry, which is an awesome thing, but also with that comes strong opinions. Learn how to compromise – just don’t compromise yourself. Don’t stop learning. Keep educating yourself.”
Sarah Roman had had no clue that the aggregates industry existed until she began working at Dibble Equipment, EIW’s dealer in Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Luckily, she said, she wasn’t deterred by that.
Drawing on skills she honed working in customer service, hospitality and the non-profit sectors, Roman was able to adapt to her administrative and accounting roles at Dibble Equipment in a brand new industry.
“I think if you’re open to more opportunities, you’ll have more options in the long run,” shared Roman. “I didn’t know the first thing about this industry when I applied for the position, but you don’t come into a new job knowing everything. You build on the foundation that you have.”
Her favorite part of working in the industry is the people.
“I like that you are on a first-name basis with most of the people you deal with day to day. For an industry that seems enormous, there are elements of a ‘small town feel’,” Roman shared.
Brittney Hulett got into the aggregates and mining industries five years ago when she started at KastRock Services, EIW’s Florida dealer, as an administrative assistant. In that position, she handled parts invoicing and accounts receivable, among other administrative tasks, before taking on the role of Inside and Outside Sales. She quickly learned the equipment and components by studying manuals and drawings.
“While I am still learning, I am fortunate to be coached and mentored by Joe Kastner, who has over 30 years of experience in this industry,” Hulett shared.
She said the mining and aggregates industry has provided a foundation by creating opportunities and increasing her knowledge in the ever-evolving field.
“There are many parts of this industry that I love, from our customers to the manufacturers and in between. Mining and aggregate is constantly changing, and there will always be new solutions to new problems. My favorite part is that finding solutions will never end, keeping this field exciting,” Hulett said.
Her advice for women in this industry?
“In one of the top male-dominated industries, my advice would be, be a woman – challenge the norm and persevere.”
Like Ratterman, Jessica Kastner grew up around the aggregates industry. When her father, Joe Kastner, drew on his more than 30 years of industry experience to open KastRock Services in late 2013, Jessica said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be part of the team.
“While there are many things that brought me to this point in my life, I can say that I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without God and my family,” she said.
Now Vice President of KastRock Services, Jessica has performed all roles pertaining to office management and is still very hands-on in all aspects of the company. Her favorite part of working in the industry is the communication she has between manufacturers and customers.
“This industry is very unique,” Jessica said. “It is challenging and rewarding.”
For other women in the industry, Jessica offers the following advice: “Be yourself, show confidence and know that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Never hesitate to ask questions.”
EIW’s own Karen Anderson was the only female employee when she started a temporary position as an administrative assistant in 2012. She became a permanent employee shortly after and has since taken a more active role with customers, production and shipping in EIW’s parts and service department.
“I enjoy the whole process, from quotes, orders placed, manufacturing of the orders by the production team, to the products shipping to the customer,” Anderson said. “The production team works together for the common goal and takes pride in using their skills to provide excellent products to our customers.”
Anderson has held a variety of positions in different industries around the globe, but she found her niche in the manufacturing environment. Manufacturing is another traditionally male-dominated industry, and Anderson advises other women who are interested in pursuing career or who have a career in manufacturing to always keep learning.
“Learn your job and increase your knowledge. Work with other departments to bond with co-workers and gain new experience. Know your facts, have back-up data available and present the facts with confidence. Practice good work ethics, be reliable and become a go-to person for information. Learn and follow procedures. Help find solutions to problems. Become a valuable asset to others and the company. Work toward giving and receiving respect from others. Never stop learning and improving,” Anderson said.