At The Precast Show this year, I was thinking about the networking opportunities NPCA provides. As a kid, I would attend the Annual Convention with my dad, Joe. He was friends with a lot of people in the precast industry and they looked forward to seeing each other every year at the meeting. Even though I was young, dad’s friends always treated me well, like I was part of the group.
Today, relationships in the industry are just as important. Our business has become more efficient and purchased new equipment that has helped us expand thanks to our connections with other members. A recent experience I had shows just how beneficial networking can be.
In 2011, we were looking to buy a machine that mainly makes hog slats. I knew a little bit about the machine but wanted to learn more, so I talked with Coote Engineering at The Precast Show to ask a few questions. The guys said they would tour me around some plants in Europe to show me the system in action. But they also said there was one at Stubbe’s Precast in Ontario, Canada. So I gave Andy Stubbe a call and asked him if I could have a look. He ended up showing me around his entire plant. Besides seeing the machine, I also picked up a few cost-saving ideas for my own plant.
After visiting Stubbe’s, I went to Europe with my plant manager, Tom. We toured 10 precast plants there over the course of a week and saw more of the machines in action. When I got home, I was doing some research and had a conversation with Clay Warner from iwi group. I told him what I’d been up to and he let me know that there was a used hog slat machine for sale at Geneva Pipe and Precast in Utah. Around the same time, I got on a call with Mike Vaughn of Vaughn Concrete Products. Mike said he was already scheduled to be near Geneva Pipe, so he told me he would take a look and send me a few photos. After some more research, Tom went out to Utah and we bought the machine.
We continue to benefit from this experience today. Andy Stubbe toured our plant a few summers ago and learned we manufacture forms, including one he needed for his plant. And we just bought a new hog slat machine from Coote that will arrive in July.
I’ve seen the precast industry change through the years, but one thing that’s always been consistent is the advantage of interacting with fellow NPCA members. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple conversation to get things started.