Adversity Exposes Character

I have heard it said from time to time that “adversity develops character.” To me, that is not quite right. I believe that adversity EXPOSES character. Our company mines and distributes anthracite coal in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Coal Region. All of the anthracite coal produced in the United States (and, in fact, all of North America), comes from this region of our state.

We are just finishing our second consecutive “warmer than normal” winter. In fact, about ten days ago, we were experiencing an early spring with temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s. On Tuesday, that all changed. A massive storm hit the region, dumping more than two feet of snow and leaving people with the huge task of digging out.

This is where the story I want to tell begins. I have written in the past about the “character” of many of our employees. The storm left our operating areas under a significant blanket of snow – the roads were impassable and the powered equipment was exposed to the elements. But, part of our business is providing coal to homeowners who heat with coal, and it is an important role and responsibility that all of us take seriously. Given the conditions – high winds, blowing snow and two feet on the ground – it would have been easy for our people to “call in” on Tuesday morning. While some did, simply because they could not get out of their homes, a number took it upon themselves to “go the extra mile” and meet the responsibilities of their job.

In one of our processing plants, eight men made it to work starting around 1:00 AM to clear roads, clean off equipment and prepare the site to accept trucks and regular commerce. Some of these men ended up staying on-site overnight to keep the access to the site open and available as the snow continued throughout the night and the winds increased, causing drifts that needed to be cleared.

At our second site, one individual arrived early and, finding the gate locked, proceeded to walk through knee-deep snow about one-third of a mile in order to power up a wheel loader and clear the roadway back to the gate, allowing his supervisor to reach the gate and get on to the site.

A third example came the next day, when one of our employees, realizing that two of his fellow employees were traveling and would be returning to find their vehicle buried in the snow, went to the local airport with his son and cleared the snow from around the vehicle, allowing the travelers to complete their trip and get home without hassle.

We are now three days past the storm, and while things are returning to “normal,” the weather left some reminders that are still in the process of being repaired. Our people have stayed “on the job,” distinguishing themselves in the process as they work to return us to full production.

What a pleasure it is to work with those who care – care about their work, care about providing for their families, care about their colleagues and friends. Character exposed!

Posted on 03/16/17
By Greg Driscoll