This month we are pleased to feature Norwalk Concrete Industries as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by John Lendrum, president of Norwalk Concrete Industries.
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: Founded in 1906, NCI has been a family operated business for more than 100 years.
Q: How long have you been a member of NPCA?
A: Ohio precast producers were early supporters and among the first members of NPCA. Norwalk Concrete Industries became an NPCA member in 1976 and also earned plant certification in 1988. We are currently the longest running NPCA certified plant in the association.
Q: Why did you join NPCA and what are the best benefits?
A: Initially, NPCA provided the opportunity to learn about the precast business and develop friendships with other precasters across the country and in Canada. As NPCA matured, association programs have been a catalyst for improving our business throughnetworking with other members, improving our quality control and plant operations, developing new product lines, improving production techniques and taking part in the numerous training opportunities for plant employees and managers. There is no other organization that focuses specifically on the needs of precast concrete manufacturers. If I have a precast-related problem or question, it is a great feeling to know I can pick up the phone and call another NPCA member that will help solve it.
Q: What products do you produce?
A: NCI is a full line precast supplier offering highway, utility, commercial, industrial and residential products. We specialize in custom-designed precast structures as an alternative to cast-in-place design. Modular buildings are supplied as completely outfitted to customer needs including restrooms, pump stations, utility applications and specialty control rooms. Company roots were in burial vaults and septic tanks but the applications for precast have grown so much that we produce more than 100 stock items. Our heavy production areas regularly manufacture castings with weights of 60,000 lbs.
Q: Have you introduced any new products lately?
A: We refine and update our products on a continual basis as resources and market conditions dictate. Our building product line has seen the most change and innovation over the last few years.
Q: What are the top attributes of precast concrete?
A: One of the biggest advantages of precast concrete is the job site time that can be saved by installing a complete precast solution. Often, there are tremendous labor and material cost savings associated with using using plant-produced precast as opposed to job site construction. Precast is stronger and more durable while offering faster installation, uniformity of pieces and lower overall cost. Plant-produced precast products generally have a higher quality standard, better records of materials and more inspection points than cast-in-place concrete.
Q: What has your company done to fight off the recession?
A: We have been forced to reduce staff, limit new equipment purchases and defer some maintenance to save funds. Labor is one of our largest costs and when yardage is cut employee hours have to go down as well. We are a much leaner organization than when the recession started and that type of experience is not always bad. It forces us to look at how and why we do some of the things we do in our company. Value-added services such as installation of components in utility structures and the application of coatings and stains to products has helped add revenue to existing sales by taking that work from the job site to the plant. Our regret is the impact reductions have had on our employees and their families.
Q: What have you seen in your area as far as recovery?
A: Our market area has seen improvement but is still not robust. The loss of manufacturing jobs and subsequent migration of the workforce to other areas of the country severely impacted the housing market and government revenues. These two items drive the construction market. We expect it may be 2015 before we see significant improvement in some product lines.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Norwalk Concrete Industries intends to remain an active member of NPCA and grow our business through production of high quality precast products and by providing superior service to our customers. We have great pride in being a family-run company and expect to see that continue.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees.