A couple of Dutch farm kids started their concrete construction business 17 years ago with a set of rented wall forms. When they couldn’t afford to pay the rent, they financed the purchase of laser screeds and total stations. Gambling on technology's productivity benefits was smart. By finishing in a week jobs that other subcontractors take a month to complete, K&M Concrete quickly forged relationships with general contractors nationwide. The company serves the commercial, residential, and agricultural markets and, over the next three years to five years, plans to expand into parking lots, pavement overlays, and warehouse floors.

Although the company recently added 3D control to laser screeds and graders and switched to ride-on from walk-behind trowels, workforce development is as important as upgrading equipment. The company pays fees and related expenses for technicians and finishers to gain American Concrete Institute certification. New hires must complete the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) online 10-hour general-industry training course; field supervisors and safety directors must complete the 30-hour course. The company pays for both.

Spanish-speaking employees receive in-person and online training in Spanish. About 85 people from Puerto Rico have worked for the company since its founding. Mario Cresco, the first employee from the U.S. territory, recruited laborers and became their mentor.

“It’s important to increase employees’ value whether they stay here or go somewhere else,” says Human Resource and Safety Manager Kristi Kooiker. “We can achieve that through certification: They aren’t just a number to us.”

Over the last year, K&M Concrete has spent around $60,000 on dust extraction tools to comply with OSHA's respirable crystalline silica standard. It's also incorporated Table 1 into its safety manual. “In addition to keeping employees safe, dust recovery leads to a cleaner jobsite and make final cleaning much easier,” says Director of Sales and Marketing Michael Hoeft.

“We’re a family-owned, family-valued company that's high-velocity in our delivery,” says Hoeft.