This month we are pleased to feature Reading Rock as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by Shannon Tokarsky, director of AVP and marketing.
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 internal communication and web manager, Sara Geer.
1. Where are you located? Reading Rock’s corporate headquarters is located in Cincinnati, Ohio. We also have regional distribution centers that service our hardscape contractors in Columbus, Ohio, Louisville, Ky., and Indianapolis, Ind.
2. How did your company get its start? Reading Rock got its start in 1947 as “Reading Concrete” when we exclusively produced block masonry units. As more and more products started to be offered by Reading Concrete, the name was officially changed to “Reading Rock” to better encapsulate the product line. Although our level of dedication began on a small scale as a block manufacturer, today, Reading Rock is recognized as a building materials and service provider that specializes in hardscape, tile, architectural stone, brick thin veneer, CMU and hearth for any size project.
3. What value does NPCA bring to your company and the industry? Reading Rock is proud to be associated with NPCA. We believe precast has a very high growth potential within our product lines because of its flexibility. Precast allows us to manufacture certain products that are limited with other techniques. We’ve seen over the past several years that precast is growing within our markets, including hardscapes and big block.
4. How have the relationships you’ve developed through NPCA membership impacted your business? The annual plant audit conducted by NPCA has provided Reading Rock an independent viewpoint on not only our quality procedures but also our work processes and products. This, in turn, has allowed us to become more proficient in what we do along with providing additional ideas for improvement for our manufacturing team. The end result is helping us to “do it right the first time.”
One of our associates, Greg McMullin, has recently earned the honor of Master Precaster by NPCA. Thanks to the education Greg received during this program, Reading Rock has been able to further develop and grow our precast business. The knowledge, skills and abilities that Greg learned from NPCA and other organizations in the precast business have allowed us to continuously improve our manufacturing capabilities and offer our customers additional product solutions for their project.
5. What are the top advantages of utilizing precast concrete products? Precast concrete products allow for flexibility in manufacturing. We are able to make our customers’ visions come true because of the ability to customize parts of projects. The structural versatility enables us to be a full-service solutions provider. We’re able to utilize our precast abilities across multiple product lines and customer channels.
6. What is the most interesting or unique project you’ve worked on? Reading Rock had the opportunity to work on a project at Campbellsville University in Kentucky a few years ago. The Noe Plaza is the new main entrance to the university, and it really makes a statement. The beam, columns and pavers stand as a legacy to Reading Rock’s product line.
We also recently introduced the Allan Block Fieldstone Collection to our hardscape customers. The retaining wall is unique in that the faces of the wall have a very natural look to them. The look is able to be achieved by using precast as opposed to methods we use for manufacturing other wall systems.
7. What drives you and your employees to produce quality precast concrete products? Reading Rock has made strides to ensure that all of our associates understand the importance of and practice living our core values. One initiative we’ve implemented is the ROCKS core values monthly award, which recognizes employees who have positively contributed to Reading Rock by exhibiting characteristics of ROCKS. The ROCKS core values include:
- Openness and honesty
- Continuous improvement and communication
- Know the internal and external customer
- Safety is a lifestyle, not a slogan
Reading Rock has also made strides in enhancing teamwork by translating more company communications in Spanish. A significant portion of Reading Rock employees are non-English speaking and we want all workers to feel they can participate and contribute to the company.
8. Tell about a time when you changes a spec to precast on a project and what the change was made. There are times when projects call for specifications that are best suited to offer precast as a solution. When this happens, we make the change for several reasons:
- When durability is a concern/requirement.
- When larger pieces are required where the length needs to be up to 25 times the thinnest dimension.
- When units are required to support parts of the structure.
- When steel, rebar, imbeds, weld plates, inserts are needed.
9. What makes precast concrete an even better product today than it has ever been in the past? Color, texture and flexibility have all allowed precast to expand its market applications and opportunities. While the durability of precast has always been one of its strengths, today’s colors, textures and flexibility have opened thousands of additional applications, replacing traditional materials such as wood, tile and natural stone.
10. How do you see the precast concrete industry – and your company in particular – evolving in the future? Precast concrete is set to play a large role in Reading Rock’s commitment to evolution. We have a 50-16 plan, which is designed to grow our business 50% by the end of 2016. Although the bar has been set high, we believe that we can achieve this goal thanks in large part to the versatility of precast concrete products.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees.