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Can’t Live With It, Can’t Live Without It

Technology, wow, what’s next? It is hard to comprehend how the life of the concrete contractor has changed in recent years. I remember when very simple (by today’s standards) Boman Instruments pocket calculators went on sale for about $120 each. If I recall correctly, it took three AA batteries. Now a solar powered -1/16 the size- much more capable version, is free in a box of cereal! My first cell phone weighed about nine pounds, was bigger than a shoe box, cost $1,800 to purchase and a small fortune per minute to use. I just ran my latest cell phone (which was free, has games, a calculator, calendar, and takes pictures) through the washing machine because it is so small I forgot it was in my pants pocket! Our company had been pouring concrete for a little local outfit called Spectra-Physics (now Trimble), for several years before they talked me into buying our first “Level-Eye” Laser. I think we own 15 or 16 of them now and cannot imagine doing without. In the mid 90’s we decided to purchase a Geodimeter robotic total station for layouts. This was after Barry Herbert (Herbert Construction Co.) and Scott Smith (MPW, Inc.) beat it into my head that such a big expenditure could pay off. Geodimeter (also part of Trimble now), as well as other instrument companies, have since expanded on this magic machine and its capabilities. The list goes on: fax machines and copiers, blueprint copiers, satellite weather systems, and concrete pumps, wow! All of these gadgets have done for us what plastic pipe did for plumbers – totally changed and improved our productivity.

And then there are the PC’s! My golly, how have they changed our lives and companies? Is there anybody out there who is not utilizing this powerful tool yet? There are not too many days when I don’t get an e-mail from a CFA member somewhere, written at 10:30 at night and I can open whenever it suits me. As a test, I just typed “Cold Weather Concrete” into “Google.” In less than half of a second, I got more information, ranked by importance, than I could ever weed through. I can’t define incredible if that isn’t it! Another small example of how the computer can help you is the “On-Line Engineering” program that CEC, Jim Baty, and the CFA staff have worked so hard to create. It is not only amazing that you as a CFA member can sit down at a computer for a few minutes and come up with an engineered plan for a basement or retaining wall, but it is kind of fun too! It certainly beats the heck out of scouring through the code books for hours and having to draw your own details. Give it a try or better yet, sign on for one of Jim’s “on-line classes” to see how it can help you.

Keep in mind all the good things these technological breakthroughs have done for us. This will help you smile through the times when your computer locks up or you are trying to understand the “users quick guide” which outweighs the cell phone it came with by about four to one!

Terry Lavy, CFA President, Lavy Concrete Construction Inc.

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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