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We Are Built of Concrete

Preparing for each issue of Concrete Facts, I have discussed with CFA Staff ideas on the Association calendar and the state of the industry.” Looking at the final issue for 2007 was no different and the message I received from them was one to perhaps offer an inspirational letter about staving off winter and the sluggish economy. I contemplated that suggestion and after giving it considerable thought, I asked myself how would I be able to craft something inspirational out of something that was typically so depressing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays, pristine snowfalls, and building snowmen with the kids; but wintertime construction and cold weather protection issues – YIKES!

We love our business come rain, sun…or snow? I may be the only one, but the thought of straw, insulation blankets, and ground heaters are not at the top of my list of how to most enjoyably spend my day. It might not be so bad if you could charge a fair rate for these services and expect to be consistently paid for them. The reality however is that there is usually a lot of “discussing” (which in construction terminology means arguing) over who should be responsible for the costs. When the rubber meets the road, however, aren’t we most interested in keeping the job progressing and our laborers working? Then where in that timeline do we have a chance to really investigate the responsibility of charges when the weather throws us that ice cold curve ball?

We work in the concrete business—seemingly 24/7 operations that, unlike our less colorful cousin (the asphalt industry), plan on running through the winter no matter the condition. Our Association has given us the tools we need to convince our customers that winter conditions are not to be feared…in fact, they often can be proven to produce the best concrete. Does that make it any easier to send the workforce out in such conditions? Does that make it any easier to hold the “conversation” with the builder or customer looking at winter charge increase we would like to be paid? NOT!!!

I fondly recall years where we have been so flush with work during the months of spring, summer and fall that winter work could be viewed us undesirable and bordering on unnecessary. We don’t have that luxury now. Our industry, although not collapsed throughout, has pockets where there is more concrete placed by children making stepping stones as presents than concrete foundations walls supporting structures. Scary at first, but at a second glance, a reality that we are most equipped to take head on.

The companies that I have come to know through the CFA describe the most diverse, most adaptable and most creative of any I’ve had the pleasure of meeting throughout my time in this profession. We try new ideas, seek new challenges and look for ways to deliver our expertise to customers that may or may not know they are looking for us. It only serves then that during this time of the year, when the ice is building in successive layers without thaw and the snow is building its way towards the window sills that we should only look at winter as another obstacle to swerve or hurdle just like the economy, the workforce, the irritated inspector or the combatant builder. We have the choice of asking “can we endure one more obstacle” or “go ahead, throw me another pitch”. I now that your company, like ours, is built of concrete and will endure.

Brad Schrock, CFA President, Custom Concrete Company Inc.
bschrock@customconcrete.com

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us