Monday, December 3, 2012


Good leadership is hard to find these days.  I mean good core leadership.  There are several folks who care about their job and are dedicated, but few possess the leadership qualities that can drive companies and inspire change.  Look back and some of the greatest leaders in history Washington, Lincoln, more modern I think former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.  What is it that possesses these people to lead.  Some may say it was the positions they were in.  Wrong I say.  Look back at Washington, what made him great.  His guidance across the Potomac River on a blistery cold night, or his persistence to lead a country with no leader.  Either way you look at it, Washington posses the trait of drive.  When the world said no, Washington said yes.  When Washington’s troops said no, he said push.  It’s this instinct to drive until you can’t drive anymore and then go even further that makes a good leader.   That is leadership. 

Look at Lincoln.  What made Lincoln great?  Lincoln to me had empathy and resiliency.  Lincoln’s leading the battle in civil rights showed his empathy toward the common man and his resiliency amongst doubters.  Lincoln believed in one thing, equality.  Equality amongst all men.  This is one of the greatest leadership traits.  Without empathy, how can a leader really relate to those that follow him or her?  It is impossible.  To be a leader is to be a true maverick.  It means pushing boundaries that haven’t been pushed.  You will have those that don’t want to follow.  As a leader it is your job is to make them believe or move on without them.  But you cannot listen to the nay sayers. 

Lastly, let’s look at Rudy Giuliani.  When you think of Rudy, you think 9/11.  We all do.  We all remember those that were lost and we continue to pray for those families that were forever changed that day.  That being said, imagine being a leader and your world coming to screeching halt.  What do you do?  There are thousands looking to you for answers? What do you do?  That brings me to my last trait humility.  Mayor Giuliani states humility is one the greatest traits of leaders today.  Those that have a sense of realization and aren’t afraid to make decisions are those that make great leaders.  Do you think Mayor Giuliani felt good about every decision he made post 9/11.  Probably not.  But he learned from them and stood by them day and day out and now he is one of the most recognized leader in the modern age. 

So like I said before, good core leadership is hard to find.  Personally I think it is really lacking in industry today.  You can’t grow leaders, you can’t find them online.  Leaders come for the situations that make them.  Those that have mind set and the drive will excel in any situation.  Look at the leaders we have had over time Washington, Lincoln, Giuliani, and many more.  Look at yourself, can you put your name in that sentence.  If you want to call yourself a leader, you better think you can. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Diary of Small Production Floor

I have seen a lot of production facilities in my time and obviously I see mine every day.  The one thing that really amazes me is that every production facility I go to has its own personality and its own identity.  Every facility has its star employee and its struggling employee, every facility has its job everyone loves and the one everyone hates, the trick is finding that harmony to operate in.  With the many variables on a floor that harmony is hard to attain.  I will occasionally visit other production facilities and think to myself “Wow these guys really got it together!”  Then I go back to my shop and try and implement what I saw in my shop then CRASH!! It blows up in my face.  I really get discouraged when this happens, but looking at it now I realize that my shop has its own personality and that is why these implementations don’t work.  I can go to another facility that produces the same products and has the same men and I guarantee the two shops would be completely different.  Right now I have found tremendous success in implementing small changes and inspiring free thought.   I mean sure I could be hard about it and say look this is the way it is and that is all no discussion.  But I feel we operate the best when everyone feels like they are on the same level.  One person is not better than the other and we all work together.  One of my ultimate goals in life is to see our plant be NPCA Plant Certified.  This certification puts your company on a pedestal with other plants that are the best in the nation.  If you dissect every single piece of the NPCA Certification Manual, and believe me I have, it’s too much for a small company to absorb at once.  If I tried to implement this 100 % it would blow up in my face.  So instead what I am doing is implementing little small pieces at a time and this is working.  We are on our way.  I tell you I cannot wait for the day when Dalmaray joins the ranks as the top precasters in the nation. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Quality Thinking

I was reading one of my favorite magazines the other day when I came across an article on the Cost of Quality.  This intrigued me and as I was reading the author made the statement that quality cost can be 20%-30% of sales.  These costs are the costs not only of implementing quality programs, but the costs associated with diagnosing and fixing the errors of your day to day production.  I really have to agree with this 100%.  I have seen our company fix product and even scrap poor products and that just really hurts.  We as managers/owners really get a pain in our side when we have to do things like this.  Not only does hurt the pocket book, but the morale.  It is so easy and so cheap to implement quality thoughts in to your production staff.  It’s the retention that is hard.   We are going through that right now.  We have a younger work staff and we struggle to retain the quality trains of thought sometimes. We are actively reinforcing over and over again the teachings.  That is where the implementation costs really come into play.  But I would rather spend money teaching and reinforcing than patching and scrapping.  A perfectly delivered product speaks volumes for who you are and what your company is about.  I really am starting to see the tides turning as guys are more about how to progress than feel sorry about themselves.  The other day we had an issue with a form that was not caught in time and we had to patch a product.  This was a setback, but what I saw for the first time was immediate discussion about what we can do to correct this in the future.  There was no finger pointing, no complaining, just instant brainstorming and evaluation.  That is quality thinking in my mind and this making me very proud that the retention is happening.  Good things are happening! 

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Am Asking for Help

For those of you that read my blog and are part of a large company I need help.  We are a small company (less than 15 employees) and we have been struggling with taking the next step.  We have some in the company like myself who want to bigger and want to better.  Then we have those that are content with where we at right now, staying small and not growing, just remaining stagnant.  I will say that we have this problem up and down the organization.  Take for instance, we implement a new policy, there is an initial buzz and everything goes well.  Then as time goes by employees get lacking and we find that we have to remind and remind and remind.  Does anyone else feel this way sometime?  I think we suffer from that small shop attitude sickness.  I like to think that I really get along with everyone well, but maybe it’s me.  Maybe I should be more of a dictator and less of a friend.  Same the other direction we have higher positioning employees/directors who feel the changes we implement are unnecessary.  “Why do we need to improve?” is a common comment.  Again asking does anyone else have this problem?  Do I feel what we do taking the next step is premature? No.  Maybe it’s the staff.  Maybe we need to re-staff, or find that one member who can step up.  I don’t know.  This has caused me great frustration as of late as I feel we are on the brink of the next step.  I am very goal oriented and I feel that if I don’t have goals I really don’t have any other reason to work.  I have done my research, I know what we need to do, and it’s just a matter of keeping the wheels turning.  I don’t quit, I don’t walk away, I’m just curious if anyone else out there has dealt with this type of sickness and has any suggestions.  Anyone made that transition from a small shop to a larger shop or even industry leader.  Or maybe the better quesiton to ask when do you know you are ready for the transition?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Maintenance of Your Machine

I wanted to start tonight’s blog with a quote.  Here it goes

The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
Robert M. Pirsig

Why this quote is so relevant is because what I want to talk about.  Maintenance.  Yes we develop maintenance plans for our machines, our mixers, our trucks, but do we our employees?   How does one develop a maintenance “plan” for people?  It’s not like you can change the oil every 3 months or replace a belt every 12.  What do we do?  Is it necessary?  My opinion is yes it is necessary and what do we do…three things. Listen, learn, and educate. First listen.  Listen to your employees.  Stick your finger on the pulse of the company.  Is your employee going through tough times, is your employee hiding something, is your employee elated about something?  Every day is different, but this goes back to some of my old blogs, you are only as good as your employees make you.  Listen to them!  There may be something affecting them that could swing you positive or negative.  But like I said every day is different; keep your finger on the pulse.  That is the only way to maximize productivity.  Second and third learn and educate run together.  Your employees can teach you things and you can teach things as well.  It’s a give and take.  I always find it amazing, at our plant we have one guy who can look at something and take it apart in his mind.   Any engine, any machine, he can dissect it.  Well every time something needs repair it’s a learning experience.  I find myself thinking every time what happens when this guy retires?  You can’t replace this knowledge, but what can you do?  Learn and educate.  Teach another, teach each other.  Along the same lines we have an employee that is time and time again the most recommended delivery driver job after job after job.  What does he do differently?  Again I find myself thinking, “We need to keep this mentality up, what happens when he is gone?”  Every person on your floor or in your fleet has value! They all can teach and they all can learn!  Open it up let them be teachers, let them be the students!  I cannot stress this enough.  We are a society of learned citizens who always yearn for the next step, the next plateau, and we as managers/owners need to lead to those plateaus.  And a lot of times those plateaus are within the company, we just never knew it.  That being said we also have more resources than our shop employees.  Why not use them?  Case in point.  I have started an education fund for our employees where I will match whatever money they put into an “education fund”.  This fund will pay their way to educational courses put on by our national organization, the National Precast Concrete Association.  Why do I do this?  Everyone wants to reach that next plateau, they just don’t know how.   Flip the coin over, this is preventative maintenance on my part.  I invest money in my employees to be better educated in their job, what is my return?  A better understanding of their job and a better respect of what they do.  Money well spent period.  That will give more of a return than any extended life filter or belt you will ever buy.  So it’s like Robert says, “The place to improve the world is in one’s own heart and head and hands, then work outward from there. “  Maintenance on a man will go infinitely longer than any machine.  Listen, learn, EDUCATE!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

In My Father's Footsteps

So in light of Father’s Day I am going to of course write about Father’s Day.  I’d like to share a story with you.  My dad used to do anything for me.  I remember when I was an up and coming pitching prospect and my dad used to catch for me every night.  I must have hit his shins at least 1000 times.  We could have bought shin guards, but he insisted he was ok.  I never really understood why he took hit after hit after hit until now.  Now the tables are turned and I have my own boys.  My son Brady loves to play baseball as well.  However only being 3 he hits off a tee, but guess who fields the ball every single time and guess who puts it back on the tee every single time.  Now I understood why my dad did that, it was the love and sacrifice that I think every father feels for his sons or daughters to be something great.  I do it now for my boys and my dad still does it for me.  Although I don’t play baseball with him anymore, I still feel that love and sacrifice he puts in day in and day out for me.  My dad has not coasted a day of his life and he hasn’t stopped yet.  He works every day of his life to create something better for me and my brothers.  He understands who I am and lets me develop and watches me grow in awe.  Although we have had and still have our share of disagreements, we understand how to work together for a common cause.  Is it business, is it wealth, no it’s a father’s love and sacrifice.  He would do anything for me and I him.  He wants the best for me and the best for my family.  I write this because I think if we all shared a story about our Father’s we’d realize what they mean to us.  I know who my dad is and I wouldn’t trade him for anything.  Love you dad and Happy Father’s Day all!

Sorry Dad Had to Post It   Love Ya!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Friday I won a sizeable contract for a job.  Great!  The best part about the contract award was the feeling I got from telling the production staff we are finally got a challenging contract.  Our common day to day stuff has been keeping us going, but we finally landed a nice contract to turn us from steady to busy and test our skills.  This got me so excited and who to better share it with, the staff.  It had to be one of the proudest moments of my career to finally see the high fives, the fist pumps, the hoots and the hollers.  It was then that I realized we needed a morale boost and we finally got it.  It was like a complete 180 degree change in mood.  To me, morale is the single most important aspect of merit based shop and we are full of it.  I’d like to share with you a quote that describes my crew.

"Morale is when your hands and feet keep on working when your head says it can't be done." ~ Benjamin Morrell

My crew is full of this morale.  Some days I come to work and wonder why our guys work as hard as they do.  Is it the money?  Is it camaraderie?  Is it me?  Personally I think it’s the projects. Having the ability to say I precast that or they told us that can’t be precast, but we precast it.  It is really nice to give them a good, challenging project, which will test our skills and change the workplace a bit.  The only way to describe it is perfect.  I’m ecstatic I landed this contract not only for me, my company, but my staff.  We needed this, we got it, look out world Dalmaray is running, catch up!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Listen to Your Mother

In honor of Mother’s Day I’m writing on something I learned and learned hard from my mom, never quit.  First I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day and thank you to all the mothers out there.  To my story…When I was a about 11 years old I was playing Little League Baseball.  I was in my second year of baseball and had good success my first year.  Second year not so much.  Honestly I wanted to quit.  I was benched and very upset with myself.  I approached my mom about quitting and she told me adamantly, “No, never, you will not quit!  Quitting is never an option!”  We argued and argued and frankly I really hated my mom for not giving me the answer I want.  But, in the end, she forced me to stick it out and wouldn’t you know it, things got better.  Things got alot better.  I enjoyed four consecutive all star seasons with the stats to back it up.  I went into high school as one of the best players in my class.  After high school, I was offered a chance to play college ball, but turned it down to go after education.  Mom was ok with that.  My point being, we live in absolutely cynical world and family comes first.  Not everyone has the family experiences I have had I know this, but I can guarantee that everyone has at least one moment in their life where no one was there for except your family.  And if it’s your mom, your dad, your siblings it’s the family that counts.  Your family never judges, your family loves you for what you are no matter what.  So to the parents that are moving forward these days, remember what your mom did for you, remember what your dad did for you and apply that to your son or daughter.  I find myself in that boat these days and I can’t help to recall the lessons I learned from my mom, most important NEVER QUIT!  So Mom, thank you, I love you, and you made me what I am today. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Arnold the Motivational Speaker

As most of you know I am huge into motivational positive thinking.  I cannot stand negative thinking.  I cannot stand unfocused thoughts.  The world is such a crazy place if thoughts aren’t pure, focused, and positive they will go nowhere.  I love this video.  Despite Arnold’s recent trouble he is one of the most motivating people and most successful people of the modern age.  He has accomplished so much.  To state a few seven Mr. Olympia titles, nationally acclaimed actor in multiple films, and most recently Governor of the state of California.  I’d like to dive into this video and comment on what he is saying. 

1.       Trust Yourself—Never saying I want to be like this guy or I went to school to be this.  What are you? What do you want out of life?  Go out and get it.

2.       Break the Rules – I agree with Arnold when people tell me I’m the youngest to do this or I’m the first one to do this I just glow.  That is the best thing anyone can tell me.  Why? Because I want to be that guy that does things that no one has ever done. Can you ask for a better high?

3.       Don’t Be Afraid to Fail – When you take risks, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.  That’s risk.  But if you quit, how do you ever know what could have been?  Yes failure is part of life, but getting back up speaks the strongest words.  Get back up and never stop driving!

4.       Don’t Listen to the Naysayer – What really revs me up is when people say you can’t do this..this can’t be done.  Some people call me ignorant, well yes and thank you for that compliment.  I never settle for no this won’t work.  Instead how will this work?  How can we make this work?  What can we do to make this work!  I want this to work!

5.       Work you butt off – We’ve had jobs that on paper could never be done.  But how did we do them, worked our butts off.  Personally I find myself spending nights and weekends researching, learning, and writing.  Why?  I want to be the best in the industry.  I’m not a lazy person.  I will never stop working.  I will never stop fighting!  And when I get to the top I will keep going.  There is no finish line, there is no goal.  As long as I’m breathing, I’m going to drive. 

6.       Giving back—This to me is so important.  Realizing that you never get to where you want without help, so give back.  As little as giving back to your family.  Realize you have a support system and they need support as well.  Give back to everyone.  Give back to your family, your community, your organizations, and your country.  You may just inspire the next big change. 

So please take the time to watch this video if you haven’t.  I promise you will enjoy it.  Arnold is an amazing guy, and I personally would give anything to have a 5 minute talk with the guy.  I grew up watching his movies as I’m sure most of you have.   I have admired him since I was 12 and still do.  But he so much more than an actor and a politician; Arnold is one of the most motivating individuals of this era.


Monday, April 30, 2012


On a production floor you have a lot of things going, a lot of things you have to look out for.  You have machines that can break down, forms that need constant attention, labor that needs to be well trained, and other outside interferences that can really mess up a day.  When all things click, it is really a sight to see.  When everything clicks and your production team is working like a clock, filling in the production holes it’s just awesome.  As a production manager it is really good to hear a production member say next I have to this task and then someone pipes in and says already done!  I love this.  That is when I know we are clicking.  When the production team members are working back and forth completing tasks for each other to get done more efficiently that is when we click.  When we click we are dangerous.  Things get done faster, get done better, and overall morale is through the roof. There is no arguing, quality doesn’t suffer, and costs go down.  Now when the wheels start falling off and some of the harmony fades, that is when problems arise.  Attitudes boil, morale goes down, and quality suffers.  What is my point? Running a production floor is like being on a sports team.  You have coaches/managers, teammates/production members, and equipment.  If one of those three lacks, your team hurts and you don’t click.  Personally, every time I reference my guys they are not employees or workers, they are team members. That word team is a powerful word.  Makes you feel like a part of something.  So whether you are a team member or a coach do your best to operate in a team.  Go that extra mile and think before you act.  Treat others like team mates not co-workers.  Coaches train your team members and continue to let them practice, that is the only way they will get better.  And maintain your equipment so it can work for you.  That is the only way everyone benefits. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012


“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

This quote stated by James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams is my favorite quote from all the movies I have seen in my lifetime.  Now this is usually where I’d tie this into concrete or motivation, but not this blog, this blog is going to be solely baseball.  I grew up playing baseball from when I was eight until college.  I have fond memories of pitching to my dad every night, playing ball at the field with friends day after day after day, and tournaments, oh those are memories in themselves.  The cities, the teams, the hotels, man those were the days.  I miss those days; those were days without money, without bills, without jobs.  We had one task, beat the other team.  After a few years baseball just became natural.  I was so in tuned to baseball I ate it, I slept it, I lived it.  Baseball, to me was everything.  I still find myself going back to those moments from time to time.

 Moving forward having to part with baseball was one of the most difficult things I had to do.  Like James says…”baseball has marked time.”  The one thing I find no matter what is going on in America, in my life, in business, baseball is constant.  I can mark the events of my life with baseball.  Baseball is the release that sometimes makes the day better.  To me nothing is better than a 2-2 tie bottom of the ninth and my team hits a walk-off homer, nothing better.  One of the best ways to spend a Saturday is at the ballpark with friends.  No matter how good or bad the game turns out, it is never a waste of time.  I can always come back to baseball.    So to part, I love baseball, to me nothing beats it.  I hope that some of you who read this have to agree and look forward to this still young 2012 season, not only the baseball season, but the construction season.  Go Brewers!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's All About the Generations

This week I had to write a good-bye letter to one of our industry friends.  He is retiring after thirty-four years of service to our industry.  In this colleague’s letter of retirement he really points out the fact that he learned a lot from the generations above him.  He really pointed out the value in the older generation teaching the younger generation today.  But he also pointed out the fact that the older generation must be accepting of the fact that younger generations need to learn and they should teach the younger generation.  I think there is a lot of truth to that.  Being a Gen Y’er, I go to college, learn how to conquer the world, and then graduate and shoot to kill.  I don’t listen to anything or anyone.  Big mistake!  I found I didn’t know everything and there were some things my alma mater couldn’t teach me.  Things you had to learn from a life of shop working or a life in concrete.  These are things that books can’t teach you.  This got me in big trouble as I graduated and wanted to change everything that our shop, Dalmaray, was doing.  I soon found myself digging Dalmaray into a hole.  Wrong, but the people who stood behind me were the older generations who told me, “Look Aaron you can’t change the world in one day.”  Older generations, not just my father and grandfather, but guys who worked for us ensured me that change was good, but don’t lose where we came from.  Keep our old school values, but put a new school twist on it.  That is what we are doing today.  Looking at how we did things in the past and improving on them every day. 

So moving forward the advice I want to give to my fellow Gen Y’ers is don’t ignore the older generations.  Yes they can be old and stubborn, but they can also teach us things we can’t learn on the internet.  And to the older generations Gen X’ers, Baby Boomers teach us.  We are not lazy individuals who do nothing but waste time on the web.  We know some things, you know some things, let’s work together to create new ideas that can change the world. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Friday I had the opportunity to experiment with some new admixtures in our concrete.  I always love doing this, even though I know I must drive my admix salesman nuts.  But anyway, when you experiment with new things you really get an appreciation for the equipment you have and for the advances in concrete.  As we added the new SCC admix we could actually watch the low-slump concrete turn into liquid.  We turned low slump concrete into 30” spread concrete.  If you have never seen this happen, I would encourage you to try and see this; it’s one of the neatest morphs you will ever see.  Even though we only tested 6 yards it was a lot of fun and kind of recharged the batteries.  I sat in my office that afternoon and thought to myself, “Damn, that was cool!”  I have seen concrete made over and over and over again, but when you actually create concrete it is really a good feeling.  Call me goofy, but you tweak something here, add something there, it is really cool.  It is kind of like building a house.  You have a set blue print, but sometimes you can just tweak something here or there and make what you really want to have.  I can’t wait to see the results tomorrow!

I also really take away an appreciation for our fine mixer from ACT.  When you make concrete day in and day out you don’t get a fond appreciation for how nice your equipment is until an outside set of eyes comes in and tells you this is the nicest equipment I’ve ever seen.  That’s an awesome feeling.  When someone comes in that you know has been to other plants and says you have the nicest equipment it gives you a renewal for what you have.  I know at the time when we purchased our mixer we were deciding on other mixers, but now I am glad we went with who we did because we have the best of the best.

So what I want you take away from this short blog is never stay satisfied with what you have.  You should never settle for what you were told to have.  Make your own way and keep your head looking for the better option.  And realize that things change.  Newer products are being developed everyday and you should never settle for what has been done.  Make your own way! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

We Are Dalmaray

My brother and I were talking today about the business of precasting.  He is going to a local college for a degree in business administration.  As we were talking he mentions to me, “You know our business does not fit anything I have learned.” I had to think about this and of course I am engineer not a business man.  So after thought, I had to agree with him.  Personally I think we make the best septic tanks in the state of Wisconsin I think, possibly the nation.  But I can’t ship them to Texas or California, it’s just not logical.  And even if I targeted septic tanks for a marketing campaign I may pick up one or two customers and that’s it.  OK so septics are a hard sells, what about our other products?  As our discussion progressed we took apart product by product and how we can sell them better.  Eventually it turned into more a conversation about the company and not the products.  We learned that we can’t sell products on price.  Price is not our game that is for our competition.  We don’t beat each other up over prices. That’s not who we are, that is not how we were raised.  So that’s out.  What do we do?  First, quality, our quality standard is so high it makes some of our production guys ill.  I challenge anyone to make a more quality product than us.  Second, service.  Our service is untouched.  We do whatever it takes to get the job done.  WHATEVER IT TAKES!  We have had spans where the production crew including myself have considered putting a camper up because we were pouring around the clock, living on Monsters and coffee.  Our installation crews have done the same thing, just in the field.  They have had months without a day off.  Is it the nature of the business, sometimes, but we excel at it.  Lastly, and most important we don’t go away.  Being that we can’t sell price we get our asses kicked 99% of the time.  But you know we keep getting back up and doing it again.  That is who we are, maybe it’s the stubborn Norwegian blood, but we don’t quit.  We keep bidding jobs, we keep spreading quality, we keep high quality service, and we don’t lose who we are when times get rough.  So who are we, we are Dalmaray and we excel!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where Is Your Bar?

My past blog I shared with you that I am and continue to navigate dark waters in business.  This past season has been rough on me.  I am trying and trying and failing.  But there are two things that I have realized

1.       I have awesome friends and a wonderful family.  My wife first and foremost knows me better than I do.  She knows when I am troubled and she knows what makes me better.  To my wife I am nothing without you and you know that.  You are my universe.  And my friends have been so supportive, particularly one.  I won’t mention names, but I appreciated your blog and your message really impacted me.  Made me realize there are people out there who care.  Thank you friend!

2.       You have to put yourself out there to grow.  Sitting in church today my pastor taught me an important thing.  He said that life get’s you down, you get overwhelmed, but your faith the cross will keep you going.  Normally I don’t get too religious, but this hit me hard.  Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with stuff it is hard to look past what is going on right in front of me.  I need to start doing that more often and believing that no matter what, my trust in the Lord will get me to the next step. 

Now to get to it I think these dark waters I am navigating I put myself here because I set my bar high. I wanted to come off last season and do better, build bigger things, and make things happen, but I didn’t.  I failed and that’s not acceptable in my book. I win, ALWAYS. A common misconception about me is that I grew up with my dad owning his own business so I could just walk right down the path and fall into a position, cake walk.  Not so, I am not built that way.  Everything I did, I did on my own, everything I got, I took.  I was never given a free meal ticket.  Everything I got I earned.  That has led to the mentality I have today. Every night before I got to bed I ask myself did I do everything I could have done today?  Did I work my hardest? Did I play with my boys enough? Can I do more?  What can I do?  I don’t go to sleep without knowing I couldn’t squeeze one more fraction of a second out of the day.   I am not satisfied with a common 9 to 5, I am not satisfied walking the line, I am not satisfied being one of the numbers.  I am better than that.  I drive so hard to be the best and I will not stop until I reach the line.  And when I do I will keep on going.  That’s who I am.  I remember being a kid.  I knew what I wanted to do when I was 10.  I always drew up floor plans of my dream mansion.  Every football game I was the quarterback, every snowball fight I was general.  I lead, I drive, I win.  So I will not stop, I will continue to drive, I haven’t found my way yet, but I’m looking, and I am looking real hard. 

So these blogs I write, I don’t know if they help you.  I hope they do.  I write because I find it makes me feel better.  I post them public so maybe someone walking in similar shoes can get some help and I have nothing to hide.  So if I am helping you, good, stay tuned I’m not going anywhere.  To part I ask you one question, where is your bar?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I am going out of my norm here and blogging twice in a week, but I have something that has been nagging at me for some time and I want to share my story and video to maybe help someone going through this.  This has been a dark winter for me; I have gone through some dark times.  No my dog didn’t die, no my family is ok.  It’s just been dark in business.  I have tried and tried and tried to do right and be better and I felt like I’m getting nowhere.  Now I’m sure for some you have been down that road, but not me.  I’ve never known anything but success, however I think this is the first year that I am transitioning to putting myself out there.  I’m doing more and more to try and get more for the company and guess what I batted .000 this winter.  I failed. And what did I do.  I pointed my finger somewhere else; I blamed other people and things.  It’s taken me some time but I realize it was my fault.  I didn’t try hard enough.  In the end of the day I could have done more, I could have, but I didn’t.  For that and to those I blamed my faults on I am sorry.  It’s me and I will be better.

Now to try and get me out of the funk, besides finding the release in my family, I went to YouTube.  I came across this video and I want you to watch it.  It’s built around sports and leave it to sports to teach you perseverance, but it teaches you one thing.  It’s not about who you are, it’s about what you do.  Now go ahead call me corny, I don’t care…. Go ahead say, “What the hell do you got going on that you need a dumb YouTube video to boost your motivation?” But you know maybe it’s you who are experiencing the same issues I am or maybe it’s you who goes to your job runs your 9 to 5 and goes home accomplishing just the bare minimum.  Well you know what that is not me.  I am not that person.  If you are fine, good for you, but I’m not and like I said if this blog/video motivates one person I’ll be glad because the world needs more movers and shakers in my mind.  We are a society of robots, few dare to break down walls and attack the world head on.  I used to wake up every day and attack the day like war I wanted to go through the day blowing every single thing I touched out of the water.  This winter I was getting blown out of the water and my eyes glazed over.  Not anymore…We all need a little pick me up from time to time and I did.  This video did it to me and I hope this helps you.  Stay hungry my friendsJ

Saturday, March 17, 2012


Technology is something we all take for granted.  Technology exists all around us, yet for some technology is ignorance.  Technology can be a machine or a tool, but it also comes in the form of ideas, processes, and innovations.  It tends to be the ideas and processes that people have a hard time adjusting too.  When you see the latest and greatest tool at the hardware store it is easy to make the impulse buy and upgrade.  But when a person develops a new idea, it is hard sometimes to make that “impulse buy”.  Why?  Sometimes its risk, sometimes it’s the fact you can’t see the monetary gain, most of the time it’s the simple fact that it may change the way you have been doing things for years and years.  Is that bad to think that way no, there is the risk it will fail, but the other side of the coin is the technology succeeds and benefits are skyward.  I have found that in this industry some people aren’t investing in the technologies needed to take us as an industry to the next step.  There seems to be this stagnancy that most will blame it on not having the money to take risk.  Others will not want to shake the dice, but it was that dice rolling that built this country from the ground up.  So I really encourage those in the position to listen and “invest” in the new technologies.  They exist every day, but we are muting them out.  Take the time to unplug from the negativity in the news and tune into to something positive…FORWARD THINKING!!!  Everyone has thoughts every once in a while and those are the technologies that need to come out and no one should have fear of bringing these thoughts to the surface.  It is these thoughts that could save your company thousands of dollars or make your company thousands of dollars.  So please for the sake of the industry invest and stay hungry. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Man Next To You

Every year about this time I start to get ansy for the next construction season.  Now is about the time the phone starts ringing, bigger contracts are getting secure, and things start moving again.  The one thing I take for granted from time to time is the guys that work with me.  Everybody from the the delivery team, to the production team, to the mainenance crew they do a fantastic job and sometimes that get's overlooked.  This is not a blog to suck up to my guys.  The purpose of this blog is to direct the attention of those that work in a team environment and take for granted the man next to you.  I enjoy everyday I come into work and talk to everyone about everything.  It's nice to hear when someone has a baby on the way, or acheieved something, or even spent the weekend on the couch doing nothing.  I don't care, I enjoy hearing stories.  If you got a story I want to hear it and you know, I think more managers, bosses, owners should be that way too.  I have been on both sides of the coin and still to this day I enjoy someone asking me "hey what did you do last night" or "how was your weekend."  It really makes you feel good.  I have seen too many days where you get lost in big projects and it's like Ok get to work, work, work, work, and go home.  You get lost and derail, forget the man working next to you is are real human being and maybe he had a bad night, maybe he wants to talk, but you get lost and ignore him.  Take the time out of every day to just talk to everyone, it makes a difference.  So in all this is not a suck up, even though my guys rock ;), I just think with the upcoming construction season we can all use a lesson in being human.  Take the time to talk to the man next to you, you may learn something, but you may just make the day of the man you're talking to.  I wish you all luck this season! Stay safe, stay strong!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Good Times, Good Friends

Fresh off my recent trip to Florida for the NPCA Precast Show and fresh off my presentation on Social Media I thought I'd blog about my experience.  First thing I learned quickly...traveling with two kids under the age of 5 is a nightmare.  I don't recommend it, but hey they are just kids.  We made it down there and all throughout the trip I was able to relive my childhood by riding on roller coasters with my mother in law and watching my boys in awe as they meet and greet their favorite Disney characters.  It was very special for me.  All fun aside, the NPCA did a wonderful job this year.  You can still tell by the trade show floor that the economy is still down, but the staff did a great job making the show what it is.  One of the things I hold dear to my heart is the relationships I have formed and am still forming with the NPCA staff and other NPCA members.  At a time during the show I was invited into the "backroom" of the NPCA and I got to mix it up with some of the NPCA staff I never knew.  I had a blast with all of them and it made it me realize how lucky I am to part of such a fantastic organization.  On the plant tour I met a new precaster from Mississippi and am learning new things from him and growing a new relationship with him.  So for me the Precast Show is all about the networking.  That is why I go, that is why I am part of the NPCA.  I feel like I'm member of a big family.  A family that is not quite as special as my personal family, but they are just as giving and I hold the relationships I have just as close to my heart.  So Kirk, Claude, Roland, Bob, Ty and everyone else thank you so much for another memorable trip.   

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You Learn Alot From Your Boys

One of my greatest releases from the daily grind is to sit back and watch movies with my sons Brady and Caleb.  I get excited every weekend when it’s too cold out or too rainy out because I know its movie day.  One of Brady’s favorite movies is Ratatouille, the story of a mouse who has acquired a special talent that makes him an effective chef in the kitchen just like his idol, famed chef Gusteau.  One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Remy, the mouse is talking with his father Django.  Remy and Django are arguing over life and death matters and meshing between rodent and human.  In front of a mouse trap store Django says to Remy. “Take a good long look, Remy.  This is what happens when a rat gets a little too uncomfortable around humans.  The world we live in belongs to the enemy, we must live carefully.  We look out for our own kind, Remy.  When all is said and done, we’re all we’ve got.  Remy replies, “No.” “What?” Says Django.  Remy mutters, “No. Dad I don’t believe it.  You’re telling me that the future is – can only be more of this (this being mice killed in traps)?” Django replies, “This is the way things are. You can’t change nature.”  Remy wittingly says, “Change is nature, Dad.  The part we can influence. And it starts when we decide.”  As Remy walks away Django says, “Where are you going?”  With a sparkle in his eye Remy turns and says, “With luck, forward.”  There is such a positive message in this conversation that maybe my sons don’t see, but I do and I hope they do one day.  Change is nature, but it only happens when we decide.  When we get off our asses and say I’m going to be better, I’m going to rebuild this, I’m going to write this and it’s going to be successful.  The motivation in that piece is so powerful, as buffered as it is in a Disney movie it’s still present.  I’ve been beaten down my whole life, told you can’t do that, no it will never work, you can’t do that.  You know what that does to me?  Motivates me, I love showing thet world that I don’t live to the standard, I make the standard.  That’s who I am and I hope my boys live this way too. 

            The last part of this piece where Remy says “With luck, forward” is a tremendous message for everyone.  I can’t stand being around negative backwards thinkers.  It drives me up the damn wall.  Think positive, generate ideas, and above all move forward.  The waters get murky from time to time, but if business was easy everyone would do it.  It’s hard at times, but creative thinking goes along way.  I encourage my people to bring up their thoughts; it is the only way we learn as an industry.  Owners don’t always have the best ideas.  Typically it’s the guys who do the day to day stuff every day.  Its pure ignorance of the owners to deny these people their God given right of change.  Listen, learn, and for Christ sake change.  Get out of the wheels and sprockets of history.  History is important, but it’s also a school subject.  Change isn’t.  We make change by what we do every day.  So do it and stay motivated. 

            So it’s been a blog of ranting and raving, but it’s time to change folks.  We live in a constantly changing world; let’s apply this to the way we think.  Live, learn, and listen.  Sometimes a little listening goes a long way both to the person listening and to the person speaking.