Staff interview: John Riley Operations Manager for Quarries and Landfills

A bit about John

John joined TJ in 2017 after the acquisition of their two quarries – the Forest Lodge (Hythe) site and Butser Quarry in Petersfield. John has over 40 years’ experience in quarrying and landfill and brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge to the role.

Prior to TJ, John worked for a large corporate company before deciding he wanted to work for a smaller, more hands-on business. He knew of TJ and liked what they stand for, so when the job came up, he jumped at the chance.

At the end of the working week, John likes to wind down for the weekend with a juicy steak supper with a glass of red wine. Most of his weekends are spent with his grandchildren, of which he has seven! One of his main interests is British aviation past and present and he attends a few talks each year about this subject.

Tell us about your role…

I manage the operations of TJ’s two quarries, but I’m actually based at the Hythe site. I manage the staff that run the day-to-day operations and I also lead the planning for the upcoming months. You have to plan 3-6 months ahead to ensure you are extracting the right amounts of materials and at the time they’re needed.

I organise the daily work that is to be carried out at each of the quarries and the site foreman oversees this and makes sure everything gets done. I’m responsible for ensuring the sites are functional, in terms of both staff and machinery and that health and safety procedures are being strictly adhered to. I always do all I can to ensure the smooth running of the quarries.

Forest Lodge Quarry Entrance

What appealed to you about this job?

I was working for a large corporate company for a long time and while it was a great place to work, I decided that I wanted a change and to work for a smaller, more local company that was focused on people and working together as a team. I’m really impressed with the way TJ is run and the people that run it. It’s all very hands-on and everyone’s opinion is listened to and considered. It’s a great team, everyone is very knowledgeable and they work well together to get the job done. The management team are committed, hands-on, have a great understanding of the business and industry and I like the way they work.

When the role came up I applied because it seemed like a great opportunity to use my experience and knowledge to help set up the two quarries that had just been acquired and get them up and running in the most effective way possible. It was great to be involved from the start and to watch them change and develop into flourishing operations.

What products and services does Hythe Quarry provide?

Sand and ballast are extracted from Hythe Quarry. These are supplied to the construction industry mostly, but some sand is also used by the farming industry as bedding sand for cattle.

As well as the ‘as dug’ sand, we also supply screened sand, which is put through our large screener machine, coming out the other end as a clean, more refined sand. This will then be used as building sand and in mortar mix.

The sand and ballast is excavated and then loaded onto our lorries to fulfill the constant flow of orders that come in. TJ deliver all over the south and south west regions and can be relied upon for a quick turnaround of high quality aggregates.

What staff do you employ at Hythe?

We currently employ three full-time members of staff: the site supervisor who operates the excavator and screener, the plant operator who operates the shovel loader and the weighbridge operator who weighs the aggregates and issues the tickets for the paperwork. All the staff are multi-skilled and two of them are currently being trained to operate a tractor bowser which enables dust suppression.

Talk us through a typical day at the quarry

First thing in the morning, the site crew arrive and are given a briefing for the day ahead. This will include what materials are required for which customers, which orders are due to be fulfilled that day, the day’s machinery activity and the overall timings.

The staff will then go to their stations and start the day’s tasks. The site supervisor will be excavating, but he will have planned his dig the day before so he starts the day with the knowledge of what he needs to do and for what purpose.

As mentioned earlier we also operate the tractor bowser that sprays water on the ground to suppress dust. We also have a permanent water-based atomiser along the fence line which is fed by a high pressure pump and captures dust particles to prevent them from polluting the surrounding area.

Can you tell me a bit about the future plans for the quarry?

The quarry is split into three phases, with completion planned for 2028. The site has been sectioned up into three areas and digging will take place in one area at a time. When digging starts on the next area, the previous area will be being filled at the same time. The quarry will be filled with inert soil from TJ’s muck away services, meaning that when the quarry is completed the site will be arable land. The original topsoil has been saved and will be put back on top of the land at the end of the project.

Do you get involved in any community projects?

TJ recently donated 10 tonnes of specialist path gravel to create footpaths in Warren Copse, an ancient woodland in Fawley, Hampshire. We have quarterly meetings with the local council and members of the community and are keen to assist them with more projects in the near future.

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