This month we are pleased to feature Vaughn Concrete Products, Inc. as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by Mike Vaughn, P.E., president and general manager of Vaughn Concrete Products, Inc.
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 did your company get its start?
A: My parents ran a small excavating business and couldn’t get septic tanks when they needed them so they started building septic tanks themselves in the early ’70s.
Q: What value does NPCA bring to your company and to the industry?
A: NPCA offers plenty of resources, including notice of standard and regulatory changes. The most important offering of NPCA is The Precast Show, which provides the opportunity to see multiple vendors at one time. When I am not at work dealing with the day-to-day operations of our business, this is a great asset that saves us time and money.
Q: How have the relationships you’ve developed through NPCA membership impacted your business?
A: They have allowed us to expand our business. Seeing and discussing what others are building makes it easier to step into something new. Many of my close friends are fellow precasters!
Q: What are the top advantages of utilizing precast concrete products?
A: For a contractor, it is having product when you need it. We utilize sleepers on our delivery trucks. This allows us to go into job sites the night before and to be on site when the crews come to work. We get unloaded quickly and we don’t interrupt their production. Our delivery trucks are well outfitted with all the necessary slings, bolts and lifting devices.
Everyone knows the advantages of using precast concrete products. We try to take the installation time to a whole new level. While many companies do this, we really work at it when things are critical for a specific job. We pre-fit structures at our plant to confirm all joints meet tolerances and sections fit. Doing this allows us to confirm that, as the sections stack up, all penetrations are at correct elevations. Once on site, we utilize handheld radios to help with our coordination in ensuring our trucks are in place, sealant is laid out and everything is properly staged. Our customers will tell you our goal for them and us is to minimize our on-site time.
Q: What’s the most interesting or unique precast project you’ve worked on?
A: For us, almost every day brings an interesting project/product. To name a few: inverted three-sided box culvert with wildlife walls, steam tunnels of multiple size configurations for laterals, energy dissipaters and transfer structures.
Q: What drives you and your employees to produce quality precast concrete products?
A: Making a living to support our people and enhance our facilities and recognition for being very diverse, hardworking and cost-effective.
Q: Tell us about a time when you changed a spec to precast on a project and why the change was made.
A: We manufacture box culvert utilizing 2-piece designs. We had a sizeable project with approximately 1,200 ft of 3-ft rise x 5-ft span box culvert. When I spoke with the contractor, he told us our price was several dollars higher per foot. I asked him, “Is that all?” He was confused. I asked him what his cost would be to have their crew on site to place this box. He did some figuring and told me approximately $5,000 per day (based on a 10-hour day). I asked him how many days it would take to install the culvert, to which he replied they could usually set about eight pieces per day, so 19 days. Whether his production rates were accurate or not, I don’t know.
So, I told the contractor I would make him a deal, that we would split whatever he saved on the installation time. He said, “Sure, I have nothing to lose.” We built the sections in 20-ft lengths. We went and checked the contractor’s excavation and base material. We set skid boards (redwood 2x6s) at each joint location approximately 1/4 in. above the base material. We coordinated the setting. We actually took in our own 60-ton conventional crane and hauled product with six trucks and utilized preloaded trailers. We set all 1,200 ft in 16 hours on site.
It had taken them 3 days to do the excavation and place their base material. When we went and checked grade on their base material they spent the rest of that day fixing it. We saved them 13 days time in installation amounting to approximately $65,000!
Q: What makes precast concrete an even better product today than it has ever been in the past?
A: The reassurance to customers that products coming from NPCA Certified Plants meet high quality standards. An experienced workforce is not as readily available to cast products on site.
Q: How do you see the precast concrete industry – and your company in particular – evolving in the future?
A: The industry and Vaughn Concrete Products, Inc. will continue to evolve. Necessity is the mother of invention. Vaughn Concrete Products, Inc. has grown by offering a wide variety of stock products. When someone calls they most often want a product now. The stock products help us in finding something to satisfy their needs.
We like it big. We transport oversized and overweight product ourselves. We have the ability to transport pieces that weigh up to 150,000 lbs. Many of our people have pilot/escort certifications. This allows us to work with our own people to transport these loads and still have control of it for both our schedule and our customer’s schedule.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees.