• I grew up in the industry. At 11 years old I began sorting the mail for another company, and from there I went into estimating, and educated myself along the way. Now my brother Dave, my cousin Sam, and I have our own family business. We work well together as a family.
  • Our business is 70% flat slab and 30% institution—mostly hospitals, some schools, some multistory work. We do some high wall work on institutional projects, and we like it and would like to expand in that area. We don't do decorative work. It's a great niche market, and it will continue to grow, but we don't do it.
  • Our business is up 10 percent this year partly because of growth in the Chicago area, but we get a lot of repeat business due to the quality of our work, our service, and our pricing structure.
  • We try to educate our clients. For example, we might bring in a consultant from ACI Committee 302 or 360, such as Eldon Tipping or Jerry Holland or Pat Harrison. We use a question-and-answer format to educate clients on what's happening in ACI 302—the new requirements and technology that are changing our industry.
  • The advantage we have is the added value that we share with clients, engineers, architects, and others in our industry. We feel that owners deserve quality, and we view our company as a leader. The leaders are the ones keeping up with the changes, and that serves the industry and our clients.
  • Our continuing growth is due to a solid conservative approach. We stand behind our business and keep educating ourselves to serve our clients and keep the company up to standards. This gives us an advantage, and we end up getting repeat business and recommendations to bid on jobs.
  • We bid hard every day on almost every job. We have done reverse auctions online, and I think this way of doing business is here to stay. I think it's a great way for owners to get bang for their buck. A lot of people can bid, however a lot drop out due to the poor quality of their work.
  • One of the most important aspects of success is being up on the technical side of the business, which is exciting for me. I can use this knowledge to overcome hurdles with other organizations that trust me because of my technical knowledge. The trend is towards needing a higher level of expertise in the concrete industry. You must keep pace with the technology and keep the quality of your work high. There is a great future for concrete in the United States.
  • We are interested in shrinkage research. We have three typical mix designs that we order for industrial or large jobs. We had a testing company run these mixes through to look at shrinkage, and the results were less than 0.04 percent at 28 days shrinkage. We are looking at it from the trenches—what works and how it works. We will share what we find out—how manufacturers say it works and how it actually does work. Contractors have to take responsibility for the mixes they receive and use or they are setting themselves up for failure. We need to be strongly involved in this for the quality of our work and for the benefit of the industry. If the P2P movement depends on compressive strength, then it's not a good idea, but if the criteria are applicable to mix design and use, then it's good.
  • The challenge for our company is maintaining our quality, service, and relationships—these have to be the focus. We have to continue to keep focused on all of these or we will go downhill. It all works together to make our company work.
  • If I were talking to a young guy who was just starting out, I would tell him that he needs to educate himself in whatever niche he wants to be—educate himself in every detail first—then go out and do it well. Diversification can cause problems if you're not ready.