• My involvement in the company started in 1964 when I was in high school. The fellow who owned the company was a friend of my father, and he was looking for a kid to run errands and do some drafting during the summer. I went to Georgia Tech as a co-op student, went back to work for the formwork company for eight years, then ran my own GC operation for about eight years. I then came back to formwork about 18 years ago. The company was doing about $8 million a year then, and we did about $70 million last year.
  • In 2002 our volume dropped from $40 million to $9 million in one year. Right after 9/11 there weren't many jobs; prices were being cut like crazy; there were a lot of guys desperate to get work. We took a little work cheap, but a lot of it got so cheap that I didn't think it made sense to take it. But we've come back stronger.
  • The vast majority of our workers are Hispanic. We have proper I-9s, but still we get back W2s every year. We want to do the right thing, but we don't want to be an enforcement arm of the INS.
  • As busy as the market is today, it's forced prices up. A lot of it is the increasing cost of materials and labor, but part is the scarcity of good subs and, frankly, what the market will bear. What we see right now is companies with no experience getting into the high-rise market. There's an opportunity because the GCs are desperate for subcontractors to do their concrete work, so they'll take a chance with anybody.
  • What we're seeing now in Florida over the past six months is some high-rise construction going to structural steel because there have not been enough concrete contractors to take care of all the construction. It's disturbing to me, because I'm afraid that once they try steel they'll like it.
  • I try not to be a worrier, because there's no end to the things I could worry about. But my greatest worry is the possibility of unexpected labor wage escalation. Every once in a while, we hear about a competitor taking an entire crew away from someone else by paying them more. If that kind of thing were to become rampant, it would be a huge problem.
  • I don't see huge leaps in technology in this business, but I do see refinements, and it's important that I keep up with those, and that's one of the reasons I go to the World of Concrete every year—I want to know that there's nothing going on that I don't know about. I have to be able to make wise decisions on using the right equipment and the right systems in the right application.
  • We used to have an attitude about safety that it had worked before so it would work again—we were wrong. A few years ago we got into safety in a big way, and our insurance cost and accidents have plummeted. I'm amazed at what we've been able to achieve. This has happened because of significantly more attention to safety procedures and getting supervision to buy in. It's not just not getting caught by OSHA but rather this is an important part of the profitability of our business. Another important aspect that I don't hear talked about much is management of employees after they've been injured and management of claims.
  • One of the things I enjoy about this business is that there's a lot of variety on a day-to-day basis. And one way to handle that is to get involved with other concrete contractors, like through the American Society of Concrete Contractors. It's helped me to see how other contractors are dealing with a problem or to see that there is no solution so I should just stop worrying about it.
  • One thing that won't change over the next 50 years is that these buildings will still have to be built on a particular piece of real estate. And people will still want hard floors to walk on and I'd be surprised to see anything come along that's more user friendly than concrete. The systems we use will change, the characteristics of the concrete will change, but it will still involve people going out to a jobsite every day and doing a good hard day's work.