Mikeal Parker, Holloway Gypsum Pit Foreman
Most boys love playing with Tonka trucks in the dirt. And some boys never grow out of it. Gypsum Pit Foreman Mikeal Parker, part of three generations of family members who have worked for Holloway, has been playing in the dirt at Holloway for more than 25 years and shows no signs of abandoning that playful spirit.
When asked why he has had such an impressive tenure with Holloway, this is what Mikeal had to say: “I’ve been with Holloway so long that it is part of my identity and something I really like to do. I love playing in the dirt so why would I want to leave?!”
Mikeal, who worked alongside his father Clifton Parker for more than 18 years, started as a machine operator with Holloway on October 12, 1997. He was a heavy equipment operator for 23 years running scrapers, dozers, and any other equipment at the mine.
Two years ago, when Hal Massingill retired, Mikeal took the job as foreman. Hal had a succession plan and had been training Mikeal for a while in anticipation of his retirement. He knew Mikeal was the right person for the job. Mikeal is a foreman who knows the equipment, knows the job, and has been committed to the company and the vision for more than two decades.
“It is nice to be off those rough machines most of the time,” Mikeal laughs, “But I do still enjoy being involved and jumping on equipment if we are shorthanded, and I love to be on any new piece of equipment. I like to play with all the new toys! Because I ran machines for so long, I am very experienced and comfortable with all the equipment we use.”
As the Gypsum Pit Foreman, Mikeal works closely with Clark Pariseau, who is the Mill Foreman at Holloway.
Between Mikeal and Clark, they manage seven people who run equipment and do the soil amendment blends. In fact, creating the blends is one of Mikeal’s favorite parts of the job. It is a science he learned largely from Hal and by working in the office learning how to do chemical testing on the gypsum to get the mixes and combinations right.
“I am a real hands-on learner and learn on the go,” Mikeal says, “I can usually figure out anything that needs to be figured out.”
Mikeal Parker with CEO Brian Maxted and VP or Products Daniel Terry, honored for his 25 years of service at last year’s Holloway Holiday Party.
Currently, Holloway has five standard blends of gypsum and also does custom blends for growers depending on their soil needs. To mine the gypsum, scraper operators need to know where to go. Mikeal and Holloway’s geologist work closely together to make future plans and maps of where to scrape next. It is a mix of science and instinct.
“I know what to look for on the gypsum side and how close we are to good areas with higher yields,” Mikeal says. “Over the years you get a sense for what the material looks like, feels like, and how much sparkle is in it.”
The mining season is heavily dependent on Mother Nature. When the rain starts, gypsum mining stops and efforts are refocused on rehabbing the dirt, something the team calls “stripping” the ground, and maintaining or fixing heavy equipment.
In addition to being a gypsum expert, Mikeal is also responsible for training operators and making sure all the equipment is running smoothly at the gypsum pits. Since he started out as a scraper operator, he admits they are his favorite machine, but being well versed in all the equipment allows him to train his team through showing and doing so they can be as efficient and safe as possible.
When asked what he is excited about for the future, Mikeal laughs, “The next step for me would be superintendent and I don’t want to do that! It’s too many meetings, and I’m not much of a meetings person, I like to play in the dirt! I really like what I do. Find the gyp, get the gyp, go dig another hole.”
His enthusiasm is infectious, so much so that Mikeal’s son, Kenny, works out at the mine with him running heavy equipment and operating the mills, marking a third generation of Parker family members working for Holloway. Mikeal worked with his father Clifton for 18 and a half years before Clifton retired this past February.
Mikeal’s father Clifton retired in February after more than 18 years working out at the Lost Hills Mine.
“We’ve been blessed to have all three of those guys working for Holloway,” said Daniel Terry, Holloway’s Vice President of Products and Sales. “It’s just a hard-working family. Clifton was such a hard worker, and Mikeal and Kenny are following in those footsteps.”
Mikeal also has two other grown children, both of whom work with their mother at RHC Construction Quality.
When he is not playing in the dirt with big-boy machines, you can find Mikeal deep sea fishing, enjoying time with his wife, Kimberly, or going to dirt track races.
As for us, we hope he always has that playful spark, and we are honored to have such an experienced and tenured employee on our team!