Tired Of Waiting For Concrete? Start Your Own Concrete Business.
Time is of the essence in many situations, but more so when pouring the foundations for homes in the outskirts of a major city like Atlanta, Georgia. That’s one reason Summit Site-Mix owner Wes Holman made the decision to invest in several C60 volumetric mixers. An offshoot on the investment? Improved quality of concrete, reduced downtime for employees, and further integration with their sister company.
How long have you been in the concrete business?
We have been pouring concrete with Paramount Foundations for about 13 years and we do slab walls.
What problem did you have before switching to a volumetric mixer?
The problem I had in the past was I couldn’t get concrete when I wanted it and where I wanted it, at the time that I wanted it. I decided to go with Cemen Tech mixers so we could control our concrete when it showed up and not be beholden to the concrete suppliers when they could show up.
I have to orchestrate pumps and concrete crews and if one of those people don’t show up on time, it cost me a lot of time and money.
How did you learn about volumetric mixers?
We used a company here in town for an odd job that we had, and it was a slow job that needed to take about four hours and the regular concrete plant couldn’t send us a truck that could load less than nine yards over a four-hour time span, so we found these guys that could do it. Once I saw it [a volumetric mixer] work I said that would be really good for all our jobs, so we decided to try it out.
We searched on the web and we found Cemen Tech and it seemed like you guys had the biggest presence and the best trucks and the most advanced products so that is why we called you first. We looked at the other guys but there was just no comparison.
We called and talked with the salesmen and he came down and visited us. He kind of showed us what he had and went over different options. We weighed out what we needed and it was a pretty easy process to decide what worked for us.
What were some of the deciding factors in choosing a C Series mixer?
It seemed like the C60s were the simplest ones for us to bring a driver in that maybe had no experience in volumetrics and say just push a button and start pouring concrete. Not having to go through all of the learning of the levers and not how to add/subtract water, add/subtract cement and all of the other things that could go along with it.
Talk about adding drivers to operate the new mixers.
We brought in some of our new drivers who just started, some of the ones who maybe didn’t do concrete before learned a lot easier than the ones that have.
We got a fireman, we got another guy who drove over the road for years and then we have another guy that ran volumetrics before and he does pretty good.
Have your drivers had any learning curves making the switch to a volumetric mixer?
The biggest problem we had at first was that they are used to adding 10 gallons of water and we just need to add a quarter of a gallon or maybe a half gallon, don’t add, just don’t start pushing the button and add five gallons all at one time because you are really going to wet it up.
How have you been able to better provide for your customers?
So far, we’re really controlling the jobs and I feel a lot more comfortable on our commercial jobs. The problem in the past [was] if you order a job and it needs to be on a four-inch slump and they get to the job and it’s on a six-inch slump, that concrete is wasted. You have to send it back. Then you have to wait an hour on a callback. On our job if it happens to have a six-inch slump, we just stop and take a little water out and do another test.
You don’t have the problem of lost time and waiting on another truck and dealing with the ready-mix company on how come their slump wasn’t right.
What’s been your experience working with Cemen Tech’s customer service department?
As soon as you call somebody answers the phone then or they call you back within an hour and usually they have been able to talk us through any issues that we have had.
What’s one thing you used to worry about but don’t have to now?
I think now in the past we used to worry about is the concrete going to show up on time. Is the pump going to be on time? Now it’s more controlled. We don’t have to worry about the concrete sitting there for an hour, waiting for the pump to get there or is the concrete going to show up late and the pump is sitting there because we can control our own concrete.
So, the timing, it costs us a lot less in waiting time for us and pump time, it cost us $150 an hour for the pump to sit there and wait for the concrete to show up. And, that call back is the big thing because the last truck, you know you usually have to wait. Do we need five yards, do we need seven yards, do we need eight yards and then you have that call back and you wait an hour, hour and a half especially if it’s a Friday and there’s traffic. So, we can send all our trucks, pour the whole job, and sometimes we can be done in two hours in what might have taken four hours before.
How did you come up with your motto?
Concrete Life is a motto that we came up with about four or five years ago. It just kind of describes what our life is because from morning to night it is get the concrete down as fast in the morning and then worry about what is going to happen the next day. It’s a whole different life with concrete probably different than a lot of other industries because it is so urgent. You have to pour it when it’s dry, and it’s the right temperature, timing is critical. It can almost take your life over, so we just call it concrete life.
What do you enjoy about using volumetric mixers?
I do enjoy the fact that we can go from one call back job that may be two yards, I can send the truck fully loaded with nine yards and send it to another job right after that and do that and then send it to another job. Or if we have five jobs in the area that is two yards, we can take care of them all in one truck. In the past setting up with ready mix company might have been five different calls to five different companies to get it where we need it. That can really drive you crazy and it’s a lot easier scheduling with one company to get to four or five jobs per day. In the past in different areas we might have four different concrete companies that service four different areas and I don’t have to worry about that anymore. That is a huge weight off scheduling and setting up concrete.
Are you proud about the level of service you’re able to provide customers now?
I am proud, and it is a big deal in this area because there is nobody else doing it. We’re able to offer something that no one else can do. We can show up at your job. We can control our concrete. If we decide we need to go to a 4,000 psi or a 5,000 mix or a line pump mix or whatever. We can make changes on the fly and not have to waste a load of concrete. In the past there could be a lot of wasted loads of concrete if they sent out a 4,000 psi mix when it was supposed to be a 5,000 psi mix. There’s nothing you can do but send it back and start again.
Or you never know if that other truck that they sent to you came from another job where they couldn’t pour out and they decided to send it to you. You got concrete that is an hour and a half old and you don’t know about it for 28 days until the break test comes back and you’re asking yourself why is my concrete so weak? So, I think we control our
mix designs a lot better at the job than with the ready-mix plants.
Talk about using the fiber chopper with the specific types of jobs Summit handles.
In the footings you might not need fiber [but,] on mono slabs so you can turn the fiber off and pour your footings and then add the fiber to pour the slab, so you don’t have to waste that fiber. In the past you would have bought a whole Redi mix truck with fiber whether you need it or not because you didn’t know if it would go into the footing or the slab.
The fiber, the water, the calcium, you can adjust all those things. If you decide you want to pour the footings without calcium, then turn the calcium off. When you get done and you want to pour a wall with calcium or you want to pour a slab with calcium, you can turn it back on. It gives you a lot of flexibility to adjust what you need and when you need it.