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Power 100 2020 Q&A: Ward Nye

 In Power 100 2020

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Ward Nye from Power 100 2020

Courtesy of Ward Nye

WARD NYE

Q&A

57 | CEO, Martin Marietta
Raleigh

A strong economy should pay off for the nation’s second-largest supplier of aggregates, such as road-construction gravel, and as a major producer of concrete for buildings and other infrastructure. Martin Marietta’s shares have more than tripled since Nye took the top job in 2010, including a 60% gain in 2019. The Durham native is board chair of the N.C. Chamber, a statewide group that promotes business interests. Point of pride? In an industry in which as many as 10 workers per 100,000 die annually, Martin Marietta quarries routinely rack up to 1 million hours of work without a reportable accident. The Duke University graduate earned his law degree from Wake Forest University.

Aggregates are a leading economic indicator, so what is your economic outlook?
Our biggest single end user is infrastructure, second is nonresidential construction and third is residential. The N.C. Department of Transportation had a robust program in 2019, so we feel good about long-term prospects to not only improve [infrastructure], such as widening and resurfacing roads, but to build it. We feel good about that, today and long term.
How about residential?
We’ve become the ninth-largest state in population, and with our degree of in-migration, residential will continue strong. We see growth particularly in multifamily, but also with low interest rates, in single-family.
It’s interesting that your 9,000 employees are scattered at more than 400 locations in 27 states and Canada. Why is that?
From a certain distance, the cost of getting materials to a project can be as much as the materials. That’s why we have leading positions in Charlotte, the Triad, here in the Triangle. But it’s also why we also are significant employers in smaller communities, such as Belgrade in eastern North Carolina, and Hickory.
How is North Carolina as a place to do business?
It’s great. We have a tax rate that’s attractive and competitive. Our three largest states by revenue are Texas, Colorado and North Carolina. They’re all attractive. But when we’re looking to attract talent, it’s easy to get people excited about moving to Raleigh.
How long has your company operated in the state?
We’ve got deep roots back to Superior Stone and the Ragland family in Raleigh prior to World War II.
Members of the Nye clan studied at UNC, Duke and Wake Forest. Does that make for some sporty dinner table talk?
I’m a dark blue Duke guy, but we’re three generations deep at Duke and Wake Forest. My mother went to medical school at Duke, I went to undergraduate school there, and I got my law degree at Wake in 1987. My son is a senior at Duke and he will be at Wake Forest law school next year.
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