Salt River Materials Group expects to host over 450 visitors at its Phoenix Cement plant in Clarkdale on Thursday, April 13.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Portland Cement Association (PCA) hold a conference for professionals in the cement industry worldwide every year. This year the weeklong conference is in Phoenix, and the cement plant tour associated with the event is bringing participants to the Phoenix Cement facility.
Roger R. Smith, Jr., who is president and CEO of Salt River Materials Group (SRMG), also chairs the planning committee for the 2006 IEEE/PCA Conference. According to Smith, "We have record early registration numbers, and expect well over 900 in attendance at the conference. Obviously Arizona in the spring is a draw, but we know that our modernized plant is also a point of great interest for individuals in the cement industry."
Ten buses will bring most of the visitors for the plant tour, but in a departure from usual plant tour tradition at these conferences, guests are also being allowed to drive themselves to the plant.
Margie Beach, communications director for SRMG and plant tour chair for the conference, said, "We are encouraging participants to bring their own cars in the hopes that they will stay over the weekend to enjoy our Verde Valley hospitality. More than 30 countries and nearly every state in the United States will be represented at the conference, and this will be the first opportunity for many of them to visit the Grand Canyon State."
While conference attendees tour the plant and enjoy lunch served by their hosts, many IEEE spouses will have the pleasure of a motor coach trip to Jerome, where they will spend two hours sight-seeing, shopping, and having lunch.
In preparation for welcoming these visitors, the cement manufacturing facility has undergone a facelift, created new landscaping, and installed new signs on the entrance road to the plant.
"During the last six years, our plant has had improvement projects totaling over 140 million dollars, bringing us to the forefront of the cement industry in technology and efficiency," said Gregg St. Clair, director of cement operations and vice chair of the 2006 conference committee. "Since our modernization plans began several years ago, I have envisioned a beautification effort for our facility to go along with the state of the art equipment we are now using for cement production. Hosting a tour for hundreds of our peers in the industry has given us the impetus to complete this effort."
The Phoenix Cement plant began production in 1959 to provide cement for Glen Canyon Dam. It has been owned since 1987 by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and has been a part of Salt River Materials Group since 2003. The company provides aggregates and fly ash in addition to cement for the building needs of the southwest, and declares their mission as, "Creating opportunities and solutions with quality products and exceptional people."