Whether in your car on the way to the plant, working out at the gym or relaxing at home, broaden your knowledge of the precast concrete industry and the issues affecting your business simply by putting on your headphones and hitting play.

Download Breaking the Mold, NCPA’s first official podcast, and listen in on the conversation. Breaking the Mold talks to experts within the industry to help precasters navigate the ever-changing landscape by providing the information and answers they need.

Hosted by NPCA Director of Communications and Public Affairs Joe Frollo, the podcast explores different aspects of the precast concrete industry with men and women from across North America. With initial topics such as precast vs. alternative materials, onboarding, new technologies and low-carbon cement, Breaking the Mold is a must-listen for precasters and suppliers.

The introductory episode provides listeners with an idea of what to expect from each episode as we delve deep into the past, present and future of the precast concrete industry.

Episode 1, released in June, focuses on the advantages of precast concrete over alternative materials such as plastic, wood and steel.

To kick off the episode, NPCA Immediate Past Chair Ron Sparks joins Frollo to detail how he explains the advantages of precast concrete to specifiers. He focuses on the longevity of the product and the advanced manufacturing techniques the industry now utilizes.

“I try to remind specifiers that they’re getting an engineered product, because I think sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle,” Sparks says. “We think of concrete sometimes as the wheelbarrow in the back of your yard, and you’re putting in a fence or a deck or something. And we’re in fact making structural concrete in a computerized highly controlled environment.”

Sparks focuses on durability as a key selling point, particularly in regions affected by floods, fires and earthquake. Precast concrete can provide specifiers confidence that their design will stand up to whatever Mother Nature may throw its way.

“I personally feel it’s the safest product you can put in the ground to ensure that evacuation routes stay intact or don’t fail,” Sparks says.

In the second half of Episode 1, NPCA Director of Outreach and Education Claude Goguen, P.E., LEED AP, talks with Hugh Scott, P.E., of Shea Concrete Products about how to take the high road when discussing the advantages of precast concrete with specifiers.

“We let our history and the quality of the products we manufacture and the quality of the service that we deliver, we really try to let that talk for us,” Scott said. “We don’t want to just be seen as a supplier. We want to be seen as a partner. We want to be seen as a turn-key solutions provider.”

Building relationships and trust is the key, Scott said. Negative selling or point out other people’s flaws isn’t a good long-term strategy. Specifiers can see right through that.

“People want to work with people that they trust, people that they like and people that can show they can deliver a quality product and that if there is a problem, they’re going to be there to help make it right,” Scott said.

Episode 2, released in July, features Mel Marshall, longtime NPCA member and Production and Quality School instructor, who emphasizes the need for a culture of quality and leadership, bolstered by ongoing education and training for precast employees. In the second half of the episode, Goguen and Marti Harrell, NPCA vice president of education and workforce development, discuss the origins of the NPCA Onboarding Program, specifically designed for precasters to improve employee retention and boost productivity.

Future topics follow a similar format with Frollo interviewing an industry expert followed by a deeper dive into the topic with engineers and technical specialists.

Breaking the Mold is available for download on all your favorite podcast platforms, including Apple, Google and Spotify. Search for “Breaking the Mold precast” to subscribe today so you don’t miss out on the valuable information in each episode. You can also listen to each episode at precast.org. PI

Heather Bremer is the NPCA communications manager.