“TAS has always had a sense of urgency,” says Tim Manherz, on what makes his company successful. “We enjoy people, both our clients and our employees. We provide solutions, not problems.” As a result, TAS has grown from 300 employees and $19 million in revenue in 1993 when Manherz started there to 2,000 employees and $320 million today. It’s a growth curve they look to continue. “We’re not volume hungry,” he says. “We want steady growth to make sure we can uphold our company values and still create opportunity for the people who work here.”
In the late 1980s, Manherz was a framing carpenter who decided to improve his life with a degree in construction management from Arizona State University. That resulted in a job with Hensel Phelps in California and then an assignment to work on completion of the Denver International Airport, where he met the leaders from TAS who recruited him to move to Texas. At first, he and his wife struggled with the Texas culture that seemed conservative and good-old-boy-ish compared to California. “But Houston has changed quite a bit,” he says. “Now, we love it here, our daughter loves it here, and it’s home.”
The key to TAS’s profitability lies in its ability to manage its people and equipment efficiently. “We’re a labor-management company that just happens to be doing concrete,” he says. “We have our own rodbusters, our own place-and-finish crews, our own carpenters, our own field engineers and mechanics. We own our own equipment, too, and equipment makes it happen. So we control our own destiny and we move people and equipment from one job to another; that’s what we do best. We are great at juggling. We have 90 jobs in Houston right now, so we can manipulate people and equipment all around to expedite where the work needs to be done and do it flawlessly, so that if there’s a problem our customers don’t even know.”
Managing all that ultimately requires the right people, technology, and processes. “We kept it feeling like a family until about 2005 or 2006; then it got too big—about 2,000 employees. Now we’re at the level where we have to create better foolproof processes. We thought we had great processes, but it’s getting cumbersome and we need to find ways to stay nimble.” He’s looking to technology, such as PlanGrid, for solutions.
One activity Manherz uses to stay on top of the industry’s advancements is his association work. He attends American Concrete Institute meetings to represent construction. “For the good of the industry, [we contractors] have to get in there and battle, because if guys like me aren’t there, things won’t change and we’ll have the same or worse problems in 10 years.” His participation with the American Society of Concrete Contractors, though, is different. At ASCC, he sees the sharing among concrete contractors as elevating the entire industry. “We all try to share so we can make our industry better, sell more work, show people the benefit of concrete, and have long sustaining careers in this business.”
As senior VP of operations, Manherz wears many hats, but the most important one? “I am the keeper of the company values,” he says. He has also become a the keeper of the industry’s values, and for that he is one of this year’s Most Influential People in the Concrete Industry.