Master Precaster Dustin McMinn trades one passion for another on his path to leadership within the precast concrete industry.
By Sara Geer
As a former U.S. Army Sergeant, Crossland Prefab plant manager Dustin McMinn is no stranger to being a leader. Feeling responsible for his peers’ and coworkers’ well-being and training comes natural to him. Yet, he mentioned being a leader in the military looks quite different than in the civilian world.
“When I got out seven years ago, I had to retrain everything and adapt to new ways and ideas,” he said.
Fortunately, his love for concrete led him to pursue a leadership position in the precast concrete industry. His first job out of the military was at a construction company in Manhattan, Kan., where he learned basic knowledge about construction. A few years later, he moved back to his hometown in Scammon and applied for a job at Crossland Prefab in Columbus, Kansas. There, he learned about precast concrete.
McMinn said he started working as a finisher first and gradually moved up into the company to his current position as plant manager. His knowledge of precast at the time stemmed mostly from on-the-job training and hands-on work. When he learned all he could about finishing precast concrete, his boss approached him about expanding his knowledge by taking NPCA’s Production & Quality School courses and completing the Master Precaster program. McMinn jumped at the chance to learn more and grow.
“I know people think making concrete is as simple as putting rock and sand together, but there is a science behind it,” McMinn said, “And I find the science very fascinating.”
McMinn said taking the courses helped him to solve immediate challenges in the workplace. For example, while he was learning about mix designs, the very same day a real-life mix design issue happened.
“I was able to take the information from the class and put it into play to solve my problem,” he said. “It was really cool to watch that I had just sat an hour through my mix design class, and within the hour I applied the knowledge that I gained. It was a surreal moment and was accurate and very true.”
McMinn also said since Crossland Prefab is a relatively new company, many of the workers are new to the industry. By taking the classes, he was able to provide immediate feedback to address questions, concerns and curiosities.
“I grew and they grew because I took what I wanted as a student and then became the teacher, and now a leader,” he said.
The networking gained from taking the classes was also beneficial when he realized the problems experienced at Crossland Prefab weren’t unique precast concrete issues.
“It’s always nice to have the problem-solving network.”
A new, yet familiar passion
While he enjoyed learning from each course, his path toward leadership really took off after he finished the PQS Level III – Leadership course at The Precast Show 2019. It’s a familiar, yet new role for him that he hopes will help others succeed.
“I’ve left my passion for concrete to the people who do that every day and have taken a passion into developing myself as a leader to help develop others as leaders,” he said.
McMinn mentioned PQS Level III instructor Sam Lines’ advice and mentorship has been valuable, and he is eager to find more ways to be involved with NPCA. Lines said he saw in McMinn a drive for success similar to his own at that age. It’s his way of paying it forward to the next generation of leaders.
“We have similar life values, and I could see in him an eagerness to grow beyond where he was,” Lines said. “He’s where I was a couple decades ago, so it’s nice to be able to use some of my past experience and skills to pour into someone who is younger, who in turn wants to share his talents and knowledge to others.”
Lines suggested a couple of avenues for McMinn to build his reputation in the precast concrete industry, which included applying for Leadership NPCA and being a member of a panel discussion of three leaders at different levels in the company as part of the PQS II – Technical class. McMinn happily pursued both.
Lines said it’s encouraging and fulfilling for him to see students from PQS III – Leadership guide their lives around what the class teaches.
“It’s actually one of my life goals to do something for someone else that they cannot do for themselves, and I want to try to do that as much as possible,” Lines said.
McMinn plans pass along what he has learned both by modeling the behavior as well as coaching his employees. He is excited to see what the future holds both for himself and the company.
“I’d like to give all my glory to God, because without Him I wouldn’t be able to have all these opportunities,” he said. “I’m truly humbled and blessed.”