This month we are pleased to feature Huffcutt Concrete as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by Steve Olson, president of Huffcutt Concrete.
Don’t forget to check out all of our Meet a Precaster blog posts and if you’re an NPCA producer member and would like to be featured in a future Meet a Precaster post, please send an email to NPCA’s communication coordinator, Mason Nichols.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Huffcutt Concrete was established around 1945. My father John Olson purchased the business in 1968 from Henry Huffcutt. My brother Bill and I purchased the business from my father in 1996.
Q: How long have you been a member of NPCA?
A: Huffcutt Concrete joined NPCA in 1971 at the encouragement of Joe Wieser of Wieser Concrete.
Q: Why did you join NPCA and what are the best benefits?
A: Through the years, NPCA has been a resource for ideas, supplies and friendships. The most important benefits are the contacts and friendships that have survived over the years and been passed down to a second generation.
Q: Have you introduced any new products lately?
A: With everyone looking for the same new products, we decided to focus on improving our current product line and marketing it better.
Q: What are the top attributes of precast concrete?
A: The first attribute is control – control of materials, environment and labor. As an NPCA certified plant, we also have quality control to ensure the product we deliver will meet or exceed specified standards. Another top attribute of precast concrete is time. We are setting modular buildings for the public sector which are installed in hours versus the weeks it would take to site construct. Septic tanks and farm products are manufactured locally by local employees. Additionally, the environmental footprint we leave for manufacturing our products is small compared to other materials.
Q: What has your company done to fight off the recession?
A: We got leaner, smarter and made some tough decisions. Along with many other companies, Huffcutt Concrete experienced solid growth from the 1990s through 2008. It was humbling when the recession hit and we realized our industry was just as vulnerable as tech and banking.
Q: What have you seen in your area as far as recovery?
A: Recovery in the stock market hasn’t necessarily translated into concrete. Our sales have started to climb since they bottomed out in 2010 but are still far from the high water mark in 2008. It seems that areas in the Midwest were slower to slide into the recession and slow to begin a recovery. We have dug out from the effects of the recession but look forward a stronger recovery than what we have been seeing to date. I believe the weather has also been a factor this year in the Midwest as we have received snow and rain that have set our construction season back about two months.
Q: What are some of the challenges you see for this industry?
A: Over the past few years, the challenge we are seeing as a small precast concrete business is the increased role the government is taking in our industry. We are faced with the uncertainty of the new healthcare program and how it affects our current health insurance benefits and premiums. We are looking at the challenge of a crane bill that might impact the ability to retain our oldest and most experienced drivers who may be incapable of passing a written proficiency test on a vehicle they have been operating safely for more than twenty or thirty years. We also must continue to stay current on all of the OSHA rules and compliances which are difficult for small businesses without hiring a full time safety director or consultant. Huffcutt Concrete has not had a worker’s compensation claim for over three years, but we still struggle to make sure we have done all of the proper documentation.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: We will continue to improve our product lines and look for new opportunities. As a smaller company, we hope to find opportunities to partner with other companies to maximize our production facility and workforce.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees.