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You Don’t Have To Be A Big Company To Do Big Work

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Accurate Concrete Forming
David Newman, Owner
601 B Louis Ave North,
Watertown, MN 55388
952-955-3911 fax 952-955-3912
davnewman3@aol.com
Started in 2002, specializing in poured walls construction
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When Ebert Construction needed an experienced poured wall outfit to pour their salt storage building for the City of St. Paul, they went to their local poured wall construction company with commercial experience. It happened to be Accurate Concrete Forming, a four-year old company owned by CFA-MCFA member David Newman that has hit the ground running and already branched out to commercial work.

General Contractor Ebert Construction from Corcoran, Minnesota needed a competitive bid from a reliable poured wall company for this project. David is pleased that Ebert “didn’t have to turn to a large union or big construction company, just the local poured wall guy.” For the St. Paul salt storage project, David and his men poured 20 foot columns on top of a 20 foot wall. David says “although this may not be something most residential contractors would tackle, we have the experience and equipment to handle it. We fi t in when contractors either don’t have the experience, the equipment or the time.” Accurate has done several other projects for Ebert Construction. David says ‘We work together well – we know they want a good product and we want to give them the best great poured wall we can.”

The building’s footprint for the poured walls measure 108 feet long by 130 feet wide and used 550 yards of concrete. The walls are 21 feet tall and 16 inches thick, with center walls 24” thick and the addition of a 24” column monolithically cast making the pour 40 feet to the top of the column. Accurate crews tied 54 tons of steel for the wall – all by hand. David says ‘when we bid this project, we assumed it would take us 2000 hours. Using BEP forms, a recent investment for Accurate, saved us 25% labor — we had it done in 1500 man hours.”

“I really want to thank Greg Peacock, who sold me our BEP equipment; Arie Van Wyk, Van Wyk Concrete, who lent me his ties to finish the job; and Matt McIntosh of Expert Construction for helping by loaning us some equipment to complete the St. Paul project.”

FROM RESIDENTIAL TO COMMERICAL

David started in 2002 as a residential poured wall contractor; then adding commercial work. David says, “I made the decision to expand our opportunities by moving into the commercial market, so at Accurate we do both; with approximately thirty percent of our revenue coming from commercial.”

Accurate currently employs eight people. David says he has focused on being efficient; instead of adding more employees he planned for more efficiency in their commercial projects by purchasing BEP gang forms. Already showing their value with projects like the St. Paul storage building, the BEP forms are aluminum and David thinks they are the best on the market — light and easy to use. The forms withstand a lot of head pressure and can be filled fairly quick. Because they are light-weight, his crews and are able to use a smaller crane and can move large sections of form work together. The life span and durability of the aluminum forms is also much longer compared to a wood face form.

According to David, residential poured wall contractors getting into commercial work is a smart move. David explains that residential contractors tend to run leaner, have less overhead, and stay more focused on what is getting done with individual projects. He feels that the residential contractor can be more cost effective than larger commercial companies and unions.

Adding commercial work also helps smaller companies to have more options — a case of ‘not putting all the eggs in one basket’. If the housing market is down, the commercial market may be good. Usually if one is down, the other is up.

For the Accurate crew, some of the commercial work, like this St. Paul project, also means a bonus when getting paid the prevailing wage. Although they realize they take a bigger financial risk doing commercial work, the allure of a higher profit margin for the company is an advantage that is hard to pass up.

David’s advice to small poured wall business owners out there is ‘if you can do commercial or agricultural work, your company will be stronger. The variety of projects will help make your employees better skilled workers.”

TECHNOLOGY AT ACCURATE CONCRETE

Technology has helped crews at Accurate primarily with project layout. David says ”the technology that is here (for example, the Total Station Layout) makes our job easier. The Total Station Layout on the larger building is easier than running tape measures. We also see a change in the residential market — today’s homes are bigger; where we used to truck dump, now we pump everything. People want to make the most home for their dollars.”

GETTING INVOLVED IN MCFA

David Newman started in the poured concrete business in 1992 while still in high school. After college he came back to the industry, but knew he wanted to play a bigger role. David worked for several years as a foreman for Expert Construction. This led to a partnership in a company David would eventually own, Accurate Concrete Forming. During his time as foreman for Expert Construction he became involved in the Minnesota Concrete Foundations Association (MCFA), now a local chapter of the CFA. He says “MCFA is one of the best things I’ve become involved with because most of the guys in the organization are good concrete contractors and businessmen. In the Minneapolis-St. Paul area the majority of poured wall contractors are members of both the MCFA and CFA. One of the benefits of our memberships is that we have gotten to know each other well, especially through our MCFA monthly meetings. As a result of getting to know one another, some of us members sub-out extra work to one another when needed (which can help to fill out each others schedules and make deadline dates). But most commonly, when we’re broken down we help each other out by moving equipment. ”

Historically their regional organization grew and became strong during a time when contractors were struggling with cold weather construction. At their monthly MCFA meetings, members worked through the cold weather issues with building inspectors. These regular meetings in turn helped the organization grow. Dave says “Today MCFA is the biggest regional poured wall organizations in the U.S. We realize that industry issues effect all of us. Our focus now is on what networking and technology can do for our companies.”

During the last year members from MCFA are starting to form committees – marketing, education, etc. Dave says that MCFA is slowly starting to evolve and help educate contractors in the industry.

His advice to other regions getting started are to:

• Meet regularly even if it feels like sometimes nothing is being accomplished. It is a long, slow process.

• Go to meetings when you can, but stick to it – each individual should go for networking, informational seminars and to discuss new issues and problems in the poured wall industry. Then when a problem comes up, you don’t have to ‘corral all the horses again, because most of the members attend regularly.

• Use this opportunity to get out there and MEET the other poured wall guys in your area. You will find they are a lot like you — just trying to make a living and to do good work. This group of people will become your friends and someone you will be able to turn to for advice, help if you’re broken down, or maybe some extra work help to fill your schedule. Dave says, “We do this here in my area and feel very fortunate to have each other – especially with breakdowns!”

For the new guys, membership in MCFA and CFA is also a great opportunity to learn from more experienced contractors.

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