This month we are pleased to feature Wellington Hamrick as part of our Meet a Precaster blog series. Answers were provided by Kitty Hoyle, president.
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?
We are located in Boiling Springs, N.C., about 45 miles west of Charlotte, in the North Carolina foothills region. We serve Charlotte, some of the smaller cities and a great part of the rural region within a 75-mile radius with precast drainage structures and on-site wastewater structures.
2. How did your company get its start?
Hamrick Precast started in the ’60s producing a septic tank that my father, Wellington Hamrick, had patented. Prior to that, he and a business partner made precast fallout shelters. The precast process gave him a channel to explore all the ideas he had for original products. For years he produced his patented septic tank and installed the systems around the region. He was well-known for his quality work and fair pricing. Even after I started working here in 1980, homeowners who had his systems installed would call for him. The comments were always the same – Mr. Hamrick had provided a good job and the system had performed well for a very long time.
3. What value does NPCA bring to your company and to the industry?
NPCA is an advocate for precast products and producer members. In my experience, they were willing to support me as an individual producer when I needed them. The availability of online training is especially beneficial to a small company. Education that we can fit into our schedule makes it accessible without the need for travel expense or staff time off.
4. How have the relationships you’ve developed through NPCA membership impacted your business?
NPCA provides a network to access vendors and regulators important to our business. However, NPCA membership has helped us develop relationships with new customers and specifiers because as a member, we get a second look. Just the membership logo on our quotes and submittals helps provide new business contacts with a little extra assurance that we operate to a consistent industry standard. It has opened up some opportunities for us to prove we can provide the quality and service new customers expect.
5. What are the top advantages of precast concrete products?
We are also ready-mix producers, so we enjoy the whole spectrum of the product. However, having the opportunity to exercise quality control before the customer takes delivery of the product is a unique advantage of precast concrete. Cast-in-place concrete involves a lot of preparation work and expense before the concrete is introduced. An unacceptable product affects other trades on the job. Precast allows the producer to assure quality before placement.
6. What’s the most interesting or unique precast project you’ve worked on?
We work in a narrow scope of product, but set our goals in prompt service, product availability and customization. There have been some very interesting LEED projects that included custom precast structures for environmental management. We enjoy giving customers some unique features they thought would have to be retrofitted to the structure. This is made possible by using our computer numerical control hot-wire shop and expandable polystyrene material to fabricate one-of-a-kind elements that meet specifications with rigorous precision.
7. What drives you and your employees to produce quality precast concrete products?
We had a founder that made his reputation on quality and fairness. Since we are still a small producer, we are almost like a family. This creates a culture where we all know it is our legacy to do good work and treat others with respect. Everyone here understands that our product isn’t sexy, but it is important for underground structures to function properly and unfailingly. The recent flooding in our region certainly brings this point home. Infrastructure can’t meet the force of all events, but failing systems can be devastating.
8. Tell us about a time when you changed a spec to precast on a project and why the change was made.
When we first added storm products to our line, most highway contractors were still using subcontractors to form and pour drainage structures on site. Our most experienced utility staff held Saturday training sessions to introduce subcontractors and supply vendors to precast methods. Some of the topics covered were taking-off plans, sizing structures, installation methods and meeting specifications. The outreach had big payoffs in developing relationships and demonstrating our knowledge and dedication to customer service.
9. What makes precast concrete an even better product today than it has ever been in the past?
Perhaps the greatest improvement is simply the greater use of precast in all applications. Designers and engineers are specifying it more and in more challenging applications. Builders and contractors are more willing to use precast options. Technology is meeting the demand of a generation looking for interesting and creative live-work-play environments.
10. How do you see the precast concrete industry – and your company in particular – evolving in the future?
Since the construction industry is more environmentally conscious, it would be expected that more designs will be made possible with precast products. Almost every job has a different and unique approach at handling stormwater concerns. It seems that an opportunity exists for a standard to evolve that could provide our company with an opportunity, or perhaps even a challenge.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the member, and not of NPCA or any of its employees.