By Ashley Benson
It’s no secret that outreach is a long-term investment.
Here at NPCA, we describe our outreach efforts as “moving the needle in the right direction.” There are endless opportunities for outreach that can seem overwhelming, but with a goal in mind and one foot forward, you can move the needle in the right direction for your business – and the industry.
NPCA Producer member Garden State Precast started with a list of local and national contacts. The company continuously built and strengthened those relationships during the last 20 years to create a blossoming outreach program. Garden State Precast Operations Manager Nadine Hurd describes the outreach program’s impact as an integral part of accomplishing long-term business goals.
“Our community is what drives our business, from projects received to workforce hires to the families our crew goes home to at night, and if you don’t have a strong presence in your community, it can be hard to accomplish long-term goals and longevity as a company,” she said.
Outreach can benefit your business by increasing brand visibility, appealing to the incoming workforce generation and creating more opportunities for specifiers to design with precast. A consistent effort focused in accomplishing one, two or all three of these components can move the needle in the right direction and impact the longevity of your business.
One of the most overlooked benefits of conducting outreach is that it increases your company’s brand visibility. Even the most simplistic outreach efforts – such as offering a local engineering professor technical or precast product-related resources for their students to use as learning aides – are worth the time investment.
Efforts to promote employment opportunities and careers can position your company as an appealing target among an eager multi-generational workforce. Exhibiting at career fairs; providing guest lectures for construction management, engineering and vocational programs; hosting plant tours for local students; and offering internships naturally expands your business’s employment pool.
In the case of Garden State Precast’s approach, the greatest outreach success comes with its internship program.
“One New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) graduate was promoted to engineering manager, and his time here helped open up his opportunities when it was time for him to move on,” Hurd said. “We have summer interns who come back each year and who also refer us to their fellow classmates.”
Garden State Precast has developed a strong working relationship with the NJIT’s Concrete Industry Management program, located about 45 minutes from the facility. In 2019, Garden State Precast hosted Precast Days, and several NJIT students and faculty attended its plant tour.
Hurd said the company plans to expand on its past Precast Days success and invite local trade schools, high schools and vocational schools to its Precast Days 2021 event.
It is important to find your business’s niche for outreach and continuously work to build upon each year’s success. A successful outreach strategy has a beginning, is tailored to your available resources and is routinely reevaluated to make the most of your efforts.
As for advice on how to develop an initial outreach strategy, Hurd was emphatic: “Start small!”
“Just make one phone call to a local high school guidance counselor or community college,” she said. “You will be amazed by how much they are willing to help.
“Watch for passion. If during your outreach work an individual or group contact is established that really is motivated and has a plan, grab onto their coattails.”
The NPCA Outreach Committee and technical staff have worked diligently to provide resources and support for members who are looking to start – and continue growing – their outreach efforts.
First, we encourage manufacturers to participate in Precast Days, a nationwide initiative during which NPCA members open their doors and conduct plant tours, product demonstrations, education sessions, open interviews and more for the local community. Precast Days 2021 is Nov. 1-12.
NPCA also has a plethora of resources that can supplement your outreach activities. Each year, NPCA hosts a free Specifier Webinar Series specifically geared toward specifiers, contractors and government officials. These webinars are recorded and available online for NPCA members to use in conducting precast-specific education of their own. The webinars are available at precast.org/npcawebinars.
Members also can leverage the presentations that NPCA technical staff offer to specifiers and academia across the country each year. NPCA encourages members to attend local NPCA outreach presentations to establish a connection with the presentation attendees – whether they are students, contractors, specifiers or government officials. Many NPCA outreach efforts involve conducting guest lectures for courses and presentations to student chapter organizations (ASCE, ACI, ASC, etc.) at colleges, universities, vocational and trade schools across the country. Our goal is to connect the faculty or organizations with a local NPCA member for future presentation opportunities, plant tours, internships and technical resources.
Here is a list of readily available resources and opportunities for NPCA members to get involved in outreach:
- Commit your plant to participate in Precast Days 2021: precast.org/precast-days.
- Refer to NPCA’s page specifically geared toward providing resources and information to students and faculty: precast.org/welcome-students-professors.
- Invite a specifier, academic, customer and anyone else to attend NPCA’s 2021 Specifier Webinar Series: precast.org/npcawebinars. Your invitation to attend can serve as a touch point with your contacts.
- Find out when NPCA technical staff will present to an industry group or school near you by visiting our Technical Services Representation page: precast.org/plant-resources/technical-services/representation. Let us know if you are interested in attending one of the scheduled presentations.
- Log in to your myNPCA account and download NPCA’s Specifier Webinar Package to gain access to past webinar recordings. Showing these recordings can be an effortless way to provide precast education to your contacts.
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