This month we are pleased to feature Hy-Grade Precast Concrete as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. The following answers have been provided by Dominic Girotti, P.E., President and Owner of Hy-Grade Precast 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 director of communication, Kirk Stelsel.
Q: Where are you located?
A: Hy-Grade Precast Concrete has two locations. Our manufacturing facility and corporate offices are located in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. Conveniently located in the Niagara Region, we effectively service our Ontario markets as well as the Northeastern United States. Our US Sales office is located between Rochester and Buffalo, in South Byron, N.Y.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Hy-Grade Precast Concrete is celebrating 65 years in the precast industry this year (2013)! We have been in business since 1948. Hy-Grade was started by the six Girotti brothers, who recognized an opportunity to produce and supply precast products in the area. We are still proudly, family owned by Dominic Girotti. We added a U.S. division, Hy-Grade Precast Concrete Products, Inc in 2000.
Q: How long have you been a member of the NPCA?
Q: Why did you join NPCA? What are the best benefits?
A: Networking with precasters throughout North America. Having the ability to participate and influence the future direction of our association and how it serves our industry. Being exposed to the latest technology and products serving our industry. Excellent educational opportunities offered by the association.
Q: What products do you produce?
A: Our product lines include…
- Modular buildings (Easi-Set line, Hy-Grade Dura’s), applications include restrooms, dugouts, concession stands, pump stations, electrical
- Enclosures, animal housing, hazardous material storage, gas monitoring shelters, general storage
- Precast stair & landing systems, applications include high rise buildings, hospitals, dormitories, parking garages, condominiums, etc.
- Retaining wall systems (reinforced earth systems RECO & ReCon gravity wall system)
- Barriers (for highway & security applications)
- Utility vaults (serving the Ontario region utility market/electrical/hydro)
- Custom (products for the wastewater market, troughs, flumes, specialty slabs, signs, custom vaults)
Q: Have you introduced any new products lately?
A: Over the last 3-4 years we have introduced the following new product lines and product advancements…
- ReCon retaining wall systems
- Insulated sandwich panel buildings
- Easi-Span buildings up to 40’ wide
Q: What are the top attributes of precast concrete?
A: Of course the usual…durable, vandal resistant, cost effective, etc. But also, precast concrete is high quality, efficient (saves incredible amount of time on jobsites compared to conventional methods), and adaptable. What this means is even on a project that does not have ANYTHING designed as precast, you many times can convert a conventionally constructed structure to a precast product. This helps us keep our options open and opportunities flowing.
Q: What has your company done to fight off the recession?
A: We strive to offer diverse product lines, and cater to diverse markets. This is a small bit of insurance; If one market is not thriving, we have several others to pull from. Also, we have a focused strategic planning on all fronts. This includes an annual strategic planning session with all departments represented, key initiatives for all, frequent follow up meetings and focus for all on our corporate goals and initiatives.
Our sales team has a very detailed, comprehensive sales plan for each product line and each account manager. We break down goals into small, achievable steps and visit our progress continuously. We leave no stone unturned, strive to follow up on every lead, and recognize that we have a notable reputation for exceptional customer service. As well, we are conscientious of our costs and margins, and visit these numbers regularly. We have also become accustomed to keeping our eyes out for new opportunities, whether it be customers, products, markets or projects.
Secondly, our operations team is charged with finding ways to work more effectively and efficiently. Monthly, we review our operational costs and continuously look for areas that need improvement or attention. When a particular product line or area is flagged for needing improvement, we put together a small team to investigate, gather data, report and make recommendations. Eventually, improvements and steps are taken forward to improve our production processes and operational procedures. Our human resources manager strives to improve attendance and moral, and has implemented a number of employee-focused programs (such as employee of the month, and company newsletter).
Our success is truly a group effort, only possible with each and every department. As well, we accept that we need to flex and adjust as the year goes on and new challenges that we did not anticipate. We work very diligently to not lose sight of our corporate and sales goals. This allowed us to react when the recession came and adjust our business focus to those areas that were still active.
Q: What have you seen in your area as far as recovery?
A: The Ontario market certainly experienced a bit of lull, as did most of the United States, however our Canadian market seems to be bouncing back stronger than before. Between 2006-2011, Toronto’s population grew by 10% each year, and the growth is predicted to continue and increase. This market and growth feeds our projects and the precast/construction needs in our main market area. Increase in population to an area increases the resources required such as schools, infrastructure, shopping, housing, utilities, etc. We are seeing an increase in all of these areas at a conservative but promising rate.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Hy-Grade plans to be around for at least the next 65 years!! We continue to strive to provide exceptional products and services. We strive to educate our employees on the latest production methods, and educate our customers on unique ways to utilize precast. We will continue to offer diverse product lines, improve products we already produce and strategically plan for success for years to come!
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees..