Precast Days is a way for precast concrete manufacturers to open their doors and showcase the precast industry and how products are engineered and manufactured.
When Shea Concrete, headquartered in Amesbury, Mass., decided to participate, President Greg Stratis was hoping to connect with some new customers and show people in the community what the company manufactures. Little did he know he would get an employee out of the experience.
Maggie Fillion was a student at the University of New Hampshire last fall when she went on a field trip with her civil engineering class to Shea’s plant in Nottingham, N.H. Being able to see the products her class was discussing in person rather than in a textbook made an impression.
“We had designed structures and tanks in class before, but it was pretty cool to have that visual and see those things being made,” she said. “It was really cool to see it in action.”
Shortly after the tour, Maggie reached out to Stratis on LinkedIn to see if there were any internship opportunities at Shea. After reaching out and interviewing, she started her internship at Shea and continued through her spring semester. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and moved her classes to an online format, Maggie found herself with more time to work at Shea.
“In my eyes, Maggie was definitely a go-getter because she could have easily said she couldn’t work and stay home, but she was willing to work and still go to school,” Greg noted. “I thought she’d be a perfect fit as far as interning goes, and I was hoping she’d want to stay on board.”
For Fillion, it was a way for her to learn more about precast concrete and keep herself busy.
“I had some gaps in my schedule, and I really don’t like sitting still so I wanted to learn more about concrete and the process of making it,” she explained. “I thought it would be an educational opportunity, but I turned out really liking it and liking the people I was working with.”
Fillion enjoyed being able to put what she was learning in the classroom to work in the real world, and she gained valuable experience. With her degree in hand, she now works at Shea full time as an engineering estimator, helping with drawings, scheduling, estimates and dispatching.
Last year, Stratis wasn’t sure what to expect with NPCA’s Precast Days, but he’s already seen the benefits.
“I was just hoping to get people like Maggie coming in, understanding precast more and specifying it,” he said. “I didn’t really think of ‘Hey, I could get an employee out of this.’ But now that I realize that is possible, I’m going to keep that in mind for (this) year.”
NPCA’s second annual Precast Days are scheduled for Oct. 19-Nov. 6, 2020, and Stratis is hoping more NPCA members open up their doors to their community. He noted that Shea’s Nottingham plant is one of their smaller locations and is a very basic plant in terms of operations, but even just inviting regular customers can be beneficial, not to mention reaching out to local engineers or town officials.
“If you get 50-100 people, that’s a great success, and it’s really not expensive or difficult to do,” he said. “We got an employee out of it, so that was pretty instantaneous, but the benefit of Precast Days will show itself over time.”
To learn more about NPCA’s Precast Days visit https://precast.org/precast-days/.