Central Plains Cement Company
The name Central Plains Cement Company is relatively new, having originated in 2012 when Eagle Materials Inc. purchased significant Midwest assets from Lafarge. Eagle Materials Inc. is one of the largest American-owned and operated construction materials suppliers. A locally operated subsidiary, Central Plains Cement Company headquarters is in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area, and its two cement manufacturing plants are in Sugar Creek, Missouri and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Though the name may be new, Central Plains Cement has a long legacy of producing Portland cement of the highest quality and offering exceptional customer service to match.
In addition to the cement plants, the company also has six cement terminals that are located in Omaha, NE, Kansas City, MO, Wichita, KS, Des Moines, IA, Springfield, MO, and Oklahoma City, OK serving customers in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska. These facilities have a combined capacity of over 1.8 million tons of cement annually.
“With our Sugar Creek and Tulsa cement plants, we have a network of terminals that we ship to and from,” Vice President Sales and Marketing John Arellano explained. “We have rail terminals located at each plant that ships to all of our terminals.
“We also ship by truck and barge to the Omaha terminal, so we have multiple transportation sources to ensure supply in the Nebraska market. For that matter we also ship by truck when the need arises to augment the rail logistics to all our terminals,” said Arellano.
“We also ship to customers via rail into Minnesota and North Dakota from Sugar Creek. Our biggest volume is moved via the BNSF railroad and their network of shortline railroads sometimes, and we utilize a tremendous amount of truck power to move material directly to our customers and directly to our terminals,” he added.
Recently, the company completed the restoration and improvement of load and unloading docks on the Missouri River. This enabled it to move material from Sugar Creek to its Omaha terminal by barge which resulted in greater efficiency and cost savings.
These efforts were started by Lafarge but they discontinued the operation after a period of time. Once Central Plains Cement Company recognized the advantages of river transportation for its operations, it decided to move forward with the significant capital investment.
Due to its comprehensive logistics network, the company can get its materials as close as possible to its customers in the markets where they operate to minimize freight costs and timelines. It also can ship outside of its market depending on the needs of its customers and Eagle Materials.
Central Plains Cement Company proudly serves America’s heartland, providing the material necessary for bridgework, roadwork and other construction projects. It is, according to its website, “especially proud of to be one of the few American-owned Portland cement companies,” as foreign ownership has dominated the market for the past several decades.
One of the most significant impacts of its purchase by Eagle Materials Inc. has been the decentralization of its operations which, in turn, has changed the company culture.
“We now have local leadership, and that means we have local ownership, as in ownership of our decisions, ownership of our operations. The Eagle way is a decentralized leadership management model, and that was so different from the Lafarge global centralized management and centralized operations. It’s just a huge difference,” explained Director of Public Affairs Steven Kidwell.
“The employees and customers appreciate the fact that they can pick up the phone and talk to someone who can make a decision right then and there, and that goes a long way in attracting good personnel as well as customers wanting to do business with us,” noted Arellano.
Eagle Materials Inc. backs Central Plains Cement Company with its extensive resources and market reach, bolstering Central Plains’ capital and engineering. Arellano cited the parent company as being, “a wealth of resource information. We enjoy a very strong relationship with Eagle’s corporate personnel. They provide direct support to our management team, especially in developing and targeting our long-term goals for the future of our company. We have strategic meetings with them. That helps us to identify potential market opportunities, and they will, in turn, help us define those long-term goals and then assist us in bringing those opportunities to fruition,” Arellano said.
“We also have our own laboratory. It’s another separate entity of Eagle Materials that is aligned with our customer requirements and our other cement companies. We can provide technical support with our testing capabilities; we have technical service representation that we provide to the industry and to our customers if they have any specific issues with quality control.”
The positive culture and localized ownership that resulted from the acquisition by Eagle Materials Inc. have manifested in many ways. The company’s name is an exercise that represents this culture very well.
“The name itself came from within – from the employees. The president and CEO of Eagle Materials, at the time, engaged in a name contest for the employees, and the name Central Plains Cement Company was chosen from one of the names that was submitted from one of the employees,” said Arellano.
Employees are at the heart of operations and success. Arellano describes them as “true living assets,” adding that by “allowing our employees to take ownership of their responsibilities, it gives them opportunity to become the very best employees that they can be,” noted Arellano.
“It’s the personal service that we can give to our customers and pay attention to what they feel that is specifically important to them, and by us paying attention to what the customers’ needs are, we develop a strong partnership, and that’s a focus that we have at every level, whether it’s dealing with customers or vendors, we form alliances, and we become partners.”
Having engaged employees also serves Central Plains Cement Company in maintaining strict compliance with standards of quality and safety. Whether the employee is at a plant or terminal or is a sales person traveling the nation to expand the company’s market, there is a consistent dedication to quality and safety.
“Eagle Materials has a very comprehensive safety program that is administered by a safety coordinator that trickles down into all of our various operating companies that we have, and each company also has safety managers employed that help all of the employees,” said Arellano. Every meeting begins with safety and each day ends successfully because of it.
Kidwell noted that the Sugar Creek cement plant just celebrated 365 consecutive days without a medical incident. “That’s remarkable for a cement plan to go that long with the type of work that folks do on a day to day basis,” he said.
The company operates in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s strict guidelines and even goes beyond what is required to do what is right for the safety of its people and the environment.
Central Plains Cement Company identifies opportunities for improvement in every aspect of what it does, to ensure it remains a leading, low-cost producer of quality Portland cement for its loyal and valued customers in the central plains region. Central Plains Cement Company continues to be American-owned and American-proud.