This month we are pleased to feature Jefferson Concrete Corp. as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by Mark Thompson, vice president of Jefferson Concrete Corp.
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: We became Jefferson Concrete in 1967 as a result of an acquisition of an old burial vault company here in Watertown. We are located in Jefferson County, hence the name. At that time, the new owners immediately realized that in order to survive in an area where we have more cows than people, we needed to begin diversifying the product line to service various customer bases in the region.
Q: What value does NPCA bring to your company and to the industry?
A: In about 1979, we received a visit from Greg Chase’s dad, Allen, who encouraged us to join NPCA. As a member company, we have consistently been exposed to what is new and innovative in our industry. Furthermore, the friendships and relationships with fellow precasters and vendors are invaluable. I think the most important value that we derive is the educational program that has evolved in recent years, culminating with Precast University. I absolutely believe that these programs are “mission accomplished” as it relates to training our people about our industry. I am pleased to say that Jefferson boasts four Master Precasters in its ranks and I expect that we will add four more to that list in 2015 in Orlando. Without question, this training has bolstered a culture of producing quality precast concrete products in a more efficient and safer working environment here at Jefferson.
When asked what NPCA brings to our industry, I am quick to look back to a “mid-year” conference which I believe was in Seattle. Under Ty Gable’s leadership, a great deal of focus was placed on identifying our industry’s greatest competition. Interestingly enough, one of the most significant revelations was that poor-quality products across the country constituted our greatest challenge. My belief is that NPCA used this as a springboard to expand and elevate the Plant Certification Program and couple it with an industry-specific education program which have both had an immense impact on our industry and where it is today.
Q: How have the relationships you’ve developed through NPCA membership impacted your business?
A: It is a rare week that passes that I don’t pick up the phone to have a conversation with a fellow precaster or vendor. Much of the best guidance I utilize in our business is a function of these relationships. I often boast that I have friends from Maine to Maui in the industry and that these NPCA relationships make for pretty good “business consultants.”
Q: What are the top advantages of utilizing precast concrete products?
A: The new marketing initiative of “Brains – Brawns – Looks – Class” does a pretty good job of addressing this question. Quality precast concrete just makes sense in so many applications. It’s cost effective, durable, versatile and manufactured in a controlled environment.
Q: What’s the most interesting or unique precast project you’ve worked on?
A: With an intense focus on diversity within our product line, we have been blessed with quite a varied list of projects over the years. Most recently, the floating dock job in Oswego, N.Y., would be the most unique and challenging for us. There were 10 elements in the project, each about 65 ft in length and weighing about 104,000 lbs each. It was a great learning experience as it related to production and shipping. From my perspective, the most gratifying aspect of the project was our staff and their ability to develop solutions to those challenges.
Q: What drives you and your employees to produce quality precast concrete products?
A: We often talk with our employees about the three factors that set us apart in our industry: price, quality and service. We try to think of these factors as a three-legged stool. Kick one leg out from under it and see where we end up. Our message consistently is that this whole philosophy starts with producing quality products – the other two components will follow. I know that our staff well understands this and do a great job every day meeting this need. Getting our product to our customers “how they want it, where they want it and when they want it,” is paramount.
Q: What makes precast concrete an even better product today than it has ever been in the past?
A: Like most industries, new technology is constantly evolving, and the precast industry is certainly no exception. It wasn’t that many years ago that self-consolidating concrete (SCC) was first introduced. Precast concrete is high-tech – new concepts in design, cements, admixtures, reinforcements and applications make that so. Precast is very much a different and more superior product today as compared to when I first joined this great industry in 1977.
Q: How do you see the precast concrete industry – and your company in particular – evolving in the future?
A: When I look back over the years, I am constantly amazed at the things that are being done with precast. I think we as an industry are doing a great job of expanding our capabilities and promoting the varied applications to specifiers and owners. We are an infrastructure industry. It’s our roads, our bridges, our water systems, our sewer systems…that’s what we do! We have an amazing future ahead.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees.