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Scott Smith Named Contractor of the Year

Scott Smith of Modern Poured Walls, LaGrange, Ohio was named contractor of the year at the CFA Annual Winter meeting held in conjunction with the World of Concrete, Las Vegas, Nevada. The contractor of the year award recognizes an individual or company that exemplifies the ideals, goals, and standards of the association. Scott Smith, with his tireless energy devoted to helping the association grow, is truly deserving of this award. When tree Penfield Township men got the notion to start their own business they kept one common thought in mind: “What do we have to lose?”

In spite of their calm reserve, partners Larry Rader, Jake Smith and his son, Scott Smith, soon were to learn they had everything to gain.

Twenty-four years ago this coming spring, Larry, Jake and Scott made the decision to quit their jobs with a poured wall contractor in Bath and start their own concrete poured wall company in Penfield Township. Modern Poured Walls, Inc. was formed with the three partners, five employees and the equipment necessary to construct high-quality poured wall basements. During its initial year of business, Modern Poured Walls was hired to pour 150 basements.

As Scott Smith looked back at the company’s 24-year-old history, he remembered that he and his partners jumped into the business with few fears. “When we started this business we were so young it didn’t matter…Larry and I didn’t have anything to lose. It may have been a little different for my dad because he owned a home,” said Scott who got his share of business startup money by obtaining a $3,000 loan (with 22 percent interest!) and using his old car and a stereo as collateral.

Modern Poured Walls would undergo a lot of transformations and a lot of growth. In the early 1980’s, the company’s partnership made a change, with Jake selling his share of the business to Larry and Scott. Later in the decade, Larry and Scott gradually would accept new duties for the business, which would take them out of the field.

“Both of us really love this business,” Smith said. “When we first go to a site there is just a hole there and then when we are done there is something where there was nothing. We are constantly moving equipment, so we are always in a different place. We’re like big kids with a huge sandbox.”

During the mid-1980’s to the present Modern Poured Walls would add excavating and concrete flat work as services offered, and Modern Waterproofing, Inc. would be added. “From 1985 until now, we added other services as the need arose and the time was right,” explained Smith.

Last year, Modern Poured Walls, Inc. boasted a staff of 100 employees and nearly as many trucks a staff of 100 employees and nearly as many trucks and vans. The business constructed 515 poured basements and according to Smith, “We poured 42,000 cubic yards of concrete last year. That is enough to concrete a 12-foot wide driveway from Cleveland to Akron or from Wellington to Mansfield.”

Modern Poured Walls handles both residential and commercial work, although residential business makes up 85 percent of the company’s business. The company travels to construction sites from Solon to Sandusky and from Lake Erie to Lodi. Word of mouth has been a big factor for the company, which added a sales department several years ago and does a small amount of marketing.

“This business has been a source of a lot of amazement and pride in what we’ve accomplished as a company,” commented Smith on Modern Poured Wall’ success. “We have a good solid Midwestern economy and haven’t had the ups and downs they’ve had on the coast. Lorain County is a good place to be in business – good help is available and the people here have good values.”

According to Smith, Modern Poured Walls recently developed a mission statement and a new vision for the company. Smith said the business is focusing on customer satisfaction and hopes to grow by 50 percent over the next three years. He said the benefit of growth would be in offering opportunities to  key and loyal employees.

“Both Larry and I live fairly modestly. Now, that conservative approach has paid off. We’ve chosen to buy good equipment and use modern technology in our business, and people want to work for us. With the equipment we have, we virtually can’t be stopped from working unless we have below-zero temperatures or rain,” commented Smith.

Over the years, Modern Poured Walls, Inc. has employed its share of Rader and Smith family members, but there are no plans for “generation next” to take over the business. Jake Smith has come back to Modern Poured Walls in a scaled-down capacity and according to Smith, some of their employees have been with the company for 15 and 20 years, and they indeed seem like family members.

“Our success is not due entirely to our own efforts. We worked hard but there are other factors. I believe God has had a hand in things that have happened to us. We’ve worked hard and made a lot of mistakes….sometimes i think we’ve succeeded in sprite of ourselves,” concluded Smith.

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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