Tom Ralston Concrete is featured for its innovative products and mentioned as one of the top three contractors in the US to watch for new developments in the world of concrete construction in the October issue of Concrete Construction Magazine.

editorial-comment-may-2002Editorial Comment Taking advantage of the situation The myriad uses of concrete are certainly fascinating, but it's the people that keep me passionate about this industry. This month, we're off again on our concrete tour of America-to visit contractors rather than the projects we stopped by in August. This is our "Contractors to Watch" feature, where we look' in on three successful concrete contractors and what they are doing right to keep their businesses thriving. Looking for the most creative contractor in the most creative sector of our industry took us to (where else?) California. Tom Ralston and Ralston Concrete have developed a reputation for quality and creativity in decorative concrete that is unsurpassed. (See some of his work on page 23 of CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION, May 2002.) Joe Nasvik, who visited Ralston in Santa Cruz just prior to this summer's CEO Leadership Forum, has always insisted that it is the capacity for creativity in decorative concrete that inspires contractors to come up with new ways to use the materials. Ralston is the epitome of that principle, inspiring even our photographer, who posed Ralston with his sample panels. Contractors are doing something right to keep their businesses thriving. Our next stop is the nation's heartland, where the team at Garber Brothers Precision Concrete has developed some unique ways to focus their employees on productivity and profits. Headquartered in a converted farm amidst a seemingly endless sea of soybean and cornfields, these are country people who know about hard work and personal responsibility. Company president Lee Clark and company founder Steve Garber have based their management style around these traits, with incentive programs, spin-off corporations, and a Web-based approach to communicating. For example, they formed separate corporations to handle materials, training, and repair work. The person in charge of each of these enterprises both accepts the responsibility for success and shares in the fruits of his labor, an approach guaranteed to provide motivation. Our journey lands us finally in the state with the nation's highest percentage of concrete homes, where we visit a Florida contractor who has not followed the pack, focusing instead on more profitable commercial work. Bill Willcox's company, Solid Foundation of Palm Beach, has succeeded through perseverance and by relying on another statistic in which the Sunshine State leads the nation: its population of hardworking, self-motivated Latinos. Willcox has found that it's relatively easy to train workers and subs and get a quality product when they truly want to work. These three companies demonstrate that good companies don't falter during slower economic times. Rather than focusing on the pessimism that comes from much of the media, they are taking advantage of their own situation to prosper and to develop fulfilled and motivated employees. Contractors expect ups and downs, and they see them on the jobsite every day, but they remain cynically optimistic about tomorrow. William D. Palmer Jr. / Editor in Chief Concrete Construction > October 2002