Do you remember your first day of work? Ronnie Keahey certainly does. As Foreman of Plant 4 located in Memphis, Ronnie has had quite the impressive career in asphalt production. He recounted the events from his first day on March 11, 1985, sharing, “We had a small fire that day, so I remember thinking, ‘what did I get myself into?’ It was a type of coal mix that was highly flammable if it got a little too hot.” He laughed and went on to add, “I spent 32 of my 35 years here at Plant 4. I grew up here… I was 25 when I started.”
Flash forward 35 years, and luckily our industry has made quite a few strides in safety since then. Ronnie will also tell you that he has learned quite a few life lessons and skills since then, too.
His supervisor, Howard Green, who serves as Asphalt Plants Superintendent spoke high praise for Ronnie’s career. Howard remarked, “I’ve worked with him during my entire career with Lehman-Roberts. I’ve come to know Ronnie to always be dependable, loyal, and one who loves what he does. He doesn’t look for credit on things; he gets the job done. Ronnie is just a good-hearted person. He’ll definitely be missed.”
John Paul Finerson, VP of Production, mirrored Howard’s statements by adding, “I have enjoyed working with Ronnie over the past 10 years. Through his humility, he has managed asphalt production, RAP processing, and most recently the operations of Plant 4. In these roles, he was always looking [for ways] to continuously improve. Men like Ronnie will truly be missed as they move on to life’s next chapter that they have worked hard to deserve.”
In order to hear how he’s achieved such a strong and long-standing career, we sat down with Ronnie to hear his experience firsthand:
1) What roles have you held over the years?
“When I first applied, I had been in construction but not this type. Since then, I’ve probably done everything from being a groundman to a foreman, and all that falls in between. That includes a ticket writer, asphalt plant operator, crusher operator, screening plant operator, asphalt tanker dispatcher, and asphalt plant foreman.” He added, “Once I got into this line of work, I stuck with it because it was a fun challenge to learn.”
2) In your opinion, which role presented the most challenges?
“I would say that being a foreman is the most demanding. It has the most responsibility and comes with long hours. It entails safety, maintenance, and operation of the whole plant yard.”
3) What did you enjoy most about your work?
“Well, I think just working with the people here and building those relationships. I’ve met and known a lot of good people over the years. That’s from the customers all the way to our employees.”
Ronnie went on to share wise words for long careers, stating, “I’ve come to realize as I’ve gotten older that your job is much more than a paycheck… it really is your life. It’s that way with any job. This is a good place to make a living. With the hours you work, you’re with the team a long time. They become your second family.”
4) What are some of your favorite characteristics about the team and your time here?
“The leadership we have now. I’ve seen for myself that they’ve given me enough freedom to do my job. We communicate, but they don’t stand over me and micro-manage. They trust my judgement and my leadership.”
5) What do you plan on enjoying in retirement?
“Spending more time with family, especially my brothers. We all hunt and fish. I’d also like to grow a garden.” Ronnie also shared, “I have a lot of interest in machinery, particular antique cars and trucks. I’ll be building those. Staying busy will be the least of my worries,” he joked.
Ronnie closed by stating how time can pass in the blink of an eye. He remarked, “Looking back, the years went by fast. The seasons and years come and go. This is why I don’t like to waste time. You have to take advantage of it.”
He added, “I am grateful for being part of this company and family for so long. They’ve given me every opportunity to learn. I’m leaving here with a lot more knowledge than I had when I came. That same opportunity is still there for young people to apply themselves.”
We thank Ronnie for the wisdom and true sense of leadership he has brought to our operations. He will be missed, but we wish him all the best in this next season of life!