When Cheryl Moeller got married, she probably didn't realize that she had just married the concrete industry as well.
Moeller is the general manager of Moeller Ready Mix, a small concrete producer in Jacksonville, Ill., which manufactures about 25,000 yards of ready-mix a year. Her mother-in-law started the company to provide concrete for their highway and heavy construction company.
Moeller has been with the producer for 13 years, starting off as a part-time secretary and working her way up to jack-of-all trades. She even took classes with veteran concrete educator Luke Snell at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. Moeller is not a stranger to concrete or the industry anymore. She works on billing, payroll, mix designs, bidding, and negotiating prices with cement suppliers. With only nine other employees, Moeller must stay quite involved.
Not everyone can make the leap from a sociology degree to managing a concrete plant. Moeller was guided by her mother-in-law, who was active in the Illinois Ready Mixed Concrete Association (IRMCA). She invited Moeller to join as well. “We have a really great group of producers,” says Moeller.
She was asked to be on the board and is serving her second term as president. “It's great to interact with all of these producers,” says Moeller. “Coming from a small company, I enjoy hearing what the big producers are doing.”
She's currently working on IRMCA's finances. “We expect to take a substantial cut to the budget,” she says. While membership is down a bit, what hurts most is the consolidation occurring among producers. “Companies pay by the amount of trucks they have and after a certain point it's a flat fee. Consolidation brings more companies to the flat fee level,” says Moeller.
On the bright side, one of the more exciting projects IRMCA is promoting is concrete and sustainable building for the Summer Olympics if they are held in Chicago in 2016. “Producers are geting the word out about life cycle analysis and pervious concrete,” she says. They are working with a marketing firm so if Chicago hosts the Olympics, they will be ready to promote concrete.
Promoting pervious concrete remains a priority but it has been slow to implement. IRMCA has spent a substantial amount of time certifying people, yet there are not many pervious placements. Some of the material has been placed in Chicago, but very little downstate.
Similarly, some stimulus money is making its way to Chicago, while very little is going downstate. Moeller Ready Mix has participated in only one small job through the stimulus plan.
While Moeller is thankful to the producers with whom she works, she does miss working with women occasionally. “There's a different energy with women than with men.” But, she says, “we have a great group, they have been quite helpful to me.”
Visit the Illinois Ready Mixed Concrete Association at www.irmca.org.
Kari Moosmann is a freelance writer based in Woodridge, Ill. Women in Concrete brings you stories about women who are making a difference in the concrete industry. Send your ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.