When our staff met a few weeks ago to brainstorm about what to put on the cover of the issue you are holding, it didn't take very long for us to settle on the image. We agreed it would be a good idea to ask the artist to take last year's TCP100 logo and take some weight off of it.
Sure, there were details we had to work out. How tight should the belt be? Should the logo be sweating, as if it were in pain?
Judging by our annual TCP100 survey, many of you have been through lots of pain the last couple of years. It's no surprise. There are not many industries that have not been affected by the deep recession that started in 2008 and probably ended last year. (Economists have not officially declared the recession over, but I'll make the leap and say that it is.)
As proud as we are of producing the TCP100 every year, it's also worth remembering that there is a lot of pain being felt by hundreds and hundreds of smaller operations which will never be listed in our annual survey.
One producer that has experienced more than its share of hurt is Allied Concrete & Supply Co. You've probably never heard of this single-plant operation in Modesto, in rural northern California. Allied Supply is not nearly large enough to be on our list of the largest 100 producers.
Company vice president Michael Ruddy Jr. is philosophical about what has happend to his business, which is down 85% from just a handful of years ago. “You have to realize that during the peak, we had four or five record high volume years in a row, and that's been followed by the worst we've ever had,” he told me recently. Allied Supply manufactured more than 200,000 annual yards of ready-mix during those glory days. Today? “We're down to about 30,000 yards a year,” he says.
During those good times, this producer manufactured concrete for dairy farm construction projects, light manufacturing, and light industrial projects such as food processors. It's all gone away. What kind of projects are left? After laughing, Ruddy answers, “When I find them I'll let you know. There's not much. Just a couple of little ones floating around.”
Allied's workforce has been reduced from 50 to 22, and some are currently working there part time. “We downsized significantly,” says Ruddy. “We've tried keeping as much of our workforce as we can, but it's been tough.” He doesn't anticipate adding to the payroll until 2015.
“The state of affairs in California is going to prevent any major turnaround for quite some time yet,” he says. Ruddy is upset with regulators who are making it hard for businesses like his. “There are so many regulatory issues. You have fees for this and fees for that and so many different permits to acquire. They keep compounding.” For example, keeping aboveground storage tanks for diesel fuel never required a fee, until now.
Despite the tough times, Ruddy says Allied Concrete & Supply will be around for the long-haul. “I compete against the multi-nationals, the Cemexes and Lehighs of the world,” he says. “I'm sure they'll be around in some form or fashion. I know we'll be around.”