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Saldana Concrete Profile

As the first poured wall contractor in the St. Cloud, Minn. area, Mark Saldana quickly realized the battle his company would face in changing perceptions and battling the region’s traditional construction methods. But, through ingenuity and persistence – as well as assistance from fellow CFA members – Saldana has quickly built a market for poured walls in Minnesota.

Originally a block foundation company with roots dating back to 1987, Saldana Concrete, located in Rice, Minn., switched to poured wall foundations in 1996.

“We were having difficulty finding blocklayers, especially in the winter months,” said Saldana. “We realized the tremendous benefit associated with poured wall foundations and decided to make the switch.”

The change was not easy. With poured wall foundations virtually non-existent in the area, Saldana found it difficult to get homebuilders to try poured wall foundations. So he regrouped and tried a different approach. Since homebuilders were reluctant, he tried selling directly to homeowners through the Builders Association Home Shows.

“During the first year in business, 90 percent of foundations we completed were directly for homeowners,” said Saldana.

Saldana believes that by selling the homeowners on poured foundations, they put pressure on the builders to use poured foundations. The next year, the builders began calling. “When we would get the same blueprint from two different builders for the same homeowner, we knew that the homeowner wanted a poured foundation,” explained Saldana. “Some builders told the homeowners that they did not do poured foundations and the builders lost the job because they would not change.”

The sales materials CFA provided also helped sell the concept to an area builder. Reker Construction was searching for an alternative to block foundations for a 60 to 70 single-family home development. After learning about the benefits of poured wall foundation construction from Saldana Concrete, Reker hired the Saldana team and the project was a success. Extremely satisfied with the results, Reker also hired Saldana in 2002 for the construction of a 278-unit apartment complex — the first apartment building with a poured wall foundation in the St. Cloud area. The walls for this project were 12-feet and 13-feet high with hollow core decking on the first floor. When completed the building will have used about 5,000 yards of concrete, which was provided by fellow CFA member, Granite City Ready Mix.

With 20 employees, Saldana has experienced growing pains within the last year but is committed to trying new things and offering new services. For example, at the advice of a CFA member, Saldana recently launched a pumping company and conveying company.

“We purchased our first pump truck in November 2000, and by the end of 2001, we needed another machine,” said Saldana. “With three crews pouring walls and footings at the same time, one truck could not manage.”

In June 2002, Saldana purchased a 105-foot Telebelt‚ Conveyor from fellow CFA member, V and H, Inc. Before the conveyor was delivered, Saldana decided to change the name of his pumping company from Saldana Concrete Pumping to Great River Pumping and Conveying.

“Other members explained to me the importance of having a different name for my pumping company,” said Saldana. “Within two days of having the new conveyor and name, I had competitors calling me. Our pumping and conveying business continues to grow and our work for outside companies has now surpassed our own pours.”

Quick to credit CFA for also keeping their company abreast of the constantly changing technology within the foundation industry, Saldana’s advice to other members is to regularly attend meetings.

“I would never miss a CFA meeting, because of the valuable information I gain,” said Saldana. “The ability to network with other contractors from around the country has been a tremendous help to my company. Joining the CFA is the best thing a contractor can do.”

Saldana says that the Associate Members of CFA who supply products and equipment for the poured wall industry provide a wealth of knowledge and experience. He encourages members to utilize their expertise and services.

Looking toward the future, Saldana hopes to position his company as a full-service contractor. He would like to expand into areas of abovegrade construction, to include concrete insulated homes. Saldana also predicts an increase in the acceptance of poured wall foundations in the St. Cloud area. With block foundations accounting for nearly 70 percent of foundation construction, there is immense opportunity for poured wall foundations.

For more information, contact Mark Saldana at (320) 393-4485.

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