- What was the precast industry like when you got started?
The industry was a group of small precasters engaged in the production and sale of small-to-medium-sized products primarily in the area of septic tanks, steps, yard ornaments and drainage structures. The framework for NPCA came from a meeting in Dayton, Ohio, at the Dura Crete plant which was owned by the Yoakum family. It was determined that this industry, which had plants with gross sales under a half million dollars annually, had no unified voice in the future of precast concrete. Through the efforts of Bob Yoakum, Bill Coons, Tait Given, Doug Hoskin and many others, the framework for NPCA was born to give voice to our industry.
- Why did you get involved with NPCA and decide to become chairman?
Getting involved in those early days was a natural transition from the old Unit Step Manufacturers Association where we were members. NPCA gave us a forum where we could discuss ideas, common problems, product opportunities and most importantly get to know other fine people who were doing the same things we were doing. As for becoming chairman, it was a decision made by others in the group – I merely accepted the challenge when I got a call from Hal Thurmond requesting that I follow him in the Chair. It was a very humbling experience, and at 33 I had the energy to help move the organization forward.
- What was the best thing you accomplished as chairman?
The focus had to be on membership growth. Bob Walton had just joined the organization as the association manager, and with his help we launched a meet and greet program that we took to several cities to get acquainted with the local producers instead of having them do the travelling. We were supported by two engineers from PCA in order to give meaningful presentations at each of these sites. The net result of this effort was to double the membership during the year.
- What’s your favorite NPCA memory
There are too many to count. Having my entire family intimately involved in NPCA is certainly memorable –receiving the Yoakum Award, chairing the BIBM congress in 1993 and involvement in nearly all aspects of the development of this great organization. The study tours we took were informative and fun.
- How has precast as a product changed over the years?
I think the product lines have become far better accepted and innovation has been a key factor. Concrete allows for the creative expressions and the imagination to satisfy the needs of the construction community. Producers are far more sophisticated in the production of products through automation and improved materials than when NPCA was organized.
- How did the friendships formed via NPCA impact your business and life?
The friendships are wonderful and lifelong. If you had a problem, there was always someone to call and discuss solutions because they had probably already been there. Honestly, most ideas used in our company have come through discussions with other members. There are some I consider my closest friends even though we are physically miles apart. There have been births and deaths and illnesses. The NPCA members are always there with a kind word, support and prayers. The organization and industry are blessed to have so many caring members.
- When you first got involved with NPCA, did you envision it becoming what it is today?
I started envisioning what NPCA could really become when the Planning Council was organized, because we could not look at the current year but were tasked with the vision for the long term. Many things we have done have been as a result of discussions in these meetings. It was a wonderful concept and really helped to set goals, many of which have been achieved.
- How does it feel to have three members of your family be recipients of the Yoakum Award?
It is an honor to have my family recognized for the contributions they have made to NPCA. It is particularly gratifying that my late wife, Daneen, was recognized for her enormous contributions as NPCA was going through its developmental years.