Known to many as the Athens of the South, Nashville, Tenn., is home to 24 post-secondary educational institutions. In the last year, Nashvillians have experienced another training innovation. But don't look for it on any college or university campus. Instead, it's in a quaint block building on the banks of the Cumberland River.

Metro Ready Mix Concrete has invested in a new driver training program that uses an MPRI simulator. “We wanted to invest in a program that would allow us to incorporate best practices into our daily activities,” says president Steve Herron.

Driver training has always been a key part of the company's legacy. Over the years, Metro's management has involved its drivers in various training programs. For the last two years, Metro has ramped up driver development by investing heavily in the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association's Concrete Delivery Professional Certification program. More than 25% of its drivers have passed the program.

According to Mike Zagula, Metro's vice president of production, the decision to bring the simulator to the company wasn't easy. “We knew that our purchase had to be more than a piece of equipment,” he says. “We were incorporating a higher level of performance into our operations.”

Metro uses its simulator for in-house training only. Every driver in the company routinely experiences the action. Just as important, new hires have an extra opportunity to experience the simulator. “It helps prep new hires for their live-time mentor program,” says Zagula.

Using the simulator has already been beneficial. “We weren't looking for dramatic changes in our safety record because it was already good,” says Herron. “We weren't looking for a tool that eliminated our field training and development because our safety professionals do an effective job. We were looking for a best practice that would help us make our operations world-class.”

“It's interesting that investing in driver development through the simulation training has been led by mid-sized, U.S.-owned producers,” says Herron. “I view our investment in the simulator as another sign that we are ready for the future.”

Metro needs to be ready. Soon the producer will be delivering a special high-strength concrete to Signature Towers, which will be the largest building in the Southeast U.S.

For more on Metro Ready Mix, visit www.mrm1.com.

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