This month we are pleased to feature Western Precast Concrete, Inc. as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. The following answers have been provided by Leo V. Feuerstein, Secretary/Treasurer.
Q: Where are you located?’
A: El Paso, Texas
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: My father, Robert Leo Feuerstein, founded the company in 1946.
Q: Why did you join NPCA?
A: We joined NPCA to assist our company in attaining a higher standard of quality and production.
Q: What products do you produce?
A: We produce all standard underground precast concrete utility products such as sanitary and storm sewer manholes in 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 12 foot diameters, precast concrete storm sewer inlets for both municipal and highway construction projects, and electrical and communication vaults for local electric and telecommunication suppliers.
In addition, we produce impact barriers of different sizes and shapes from the standard jersey barrier to specially formed barriers for the Department of Defense. For the local restaurant, laundry facilities and mechanic trade, we produce both grease and sand interceptors. As we like to say, if it is precast concrete for the utility trade, we are here to produce your product.
Q: What are the top attributes of precast concrete?
A: Precast concrete is not only a cost-saving solution, but also the quality solution for any project. Think about it: If your product is manufactured in an NPCA Certified Plant such as Western Precast, you are assured a product that meets the highest standards of quality. This entails concrete strength and mix design, as well as proper forming, penetration placement, concrete-to-pipe positive connections and reinforcement to ensure load bearing. And, you get the functionality of the precast concrete product being installed.
Precast concrete products are second-to-none in quality and usability. Further, the cost savings achieved when using precast concrete products are immense; including ease of installation and reduced time an excavation has to be open, compared to forming on site. When using a precast concrete product, the safety factor is increased immensely and the savings in labor is truly immeasurable. We should also not forget that when using precast concrete products from an NPCA Certified Plant, we can assist the contractor in fulfilling his LEED calculations to gain an overall benefit of a green project.
Q: What has your company done to fight off the recession?
A: The recession is an interesting animal. We had the best year in our history in 2007-08 as our local military installations were in tremendous growth mode. This fiscal year was a huge spike on the sales chart. While we traditionally carry approximately fifty employees on permanent payroll, we hired a staffing company to increase our workforce at that time. We hired an additional eighteen employees and our production rose from 57 tons per day to more than 114 tons per day.
What we have seen is that if you throw out that year our sales fell back in line with a satisfactory up trend of about 1% to 2% growth per year. What we were able to do to combat the drop in sales was to reduce our temporary staff and trim raw material and overhead costs at the same time.
Q: What have you see in your area as far as recovery?
A: El Paso is somewhat insulated from the national economy. We did not see the highs and thus have not experience the extreme lows. It is true that housing is off and thus electric vaults, sanitary and storm sewer manholes for new subdivision work is down. Yet, we have seen a fairly steady economy. We have noticed that there is an upturn in Texas highway work and that has been a welcome addition to our production of state inlets and manhole structures.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Our plans for the future are solid: Bid the available work in our area, pay attention to quality and service our contractors. Don’t take your customers for granted, work each day to service the market as though it is your first day in business, stay lean and minimize debt and you can weather any storm that comes along. Western Precast plans to be around for another 65 years.
Please check out our past 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 assistant director of communication, Kirk Stelsel.