When Don Mullin started his volumetric concrete delivery business, computers were specialty tools found only on spaceships and in research facilities. But late last year, Mullin found himself becoming a computer guru. He now uses the technology to do something he enjoys best—sharing his opinions on volumetric concrete mixing.
He turned to one of the hottest segments of the Internet—social networking. For Mullin, a person who still relies on faxes instead of e-mail, it was a dramatic change. He hosts www.mobilemixhelp.com, the only independent forum for volumetric mixer operators.
The Web site has attracted thousands of visitors since it launched late in 2008. There are about 300 registered users who periodically participate in about 50 conversation threads. Producers from around the world have added to the conversations that range from mix designs to parts locations. But what pleases Mullin the most is the impact www.mobilemixhelp.com has on the young people who are trying to get started in this challenging industry.
One of the volumetric industry's most colorful individuals, Mullin has never been shy about offering his opinion on how to improve the industry. The forum allows everyone to share their thoughts with the thousands of volumetric mixer operators around the world.
Volumetric producers usually fend for themselves. And there's good reason for this feeling of separation. Many of these operators have an “us or them” way of business. On one hand, they often compete in markets dominated by large ready-mixed concrete producers. And since much their work is short-load or specialty pours, competition in markets with more than one producer can be fierce.
Most volumetric mixer manufacturers try to fill in by developing strong personal and business relationships with their clients. Thanks to the efforts of the Volumetric Mixer Manufacturers Bureau, an effort to develop state DOT inspection procedures are underway. But developing a formal association for these producers has been less successful.
The community wanted more. Many attended the volumetric roundtables at the last two World of Concrete shows. Mullin participated in these WOC events and has designed his discussion around various topics.
Little did he know producers communicating through the Internet would be so rewarding. Mullin describes the site as a place where producers can share opinions and ideas. All sponsors are treated equally, trying to eliminate any type of commercialism and control of the content.
“I want to help any individual with an interest in the volumetric mobile-mix industry,” says Mullin, who monitors the site's content. “I want to avoid any infomercials that could benefit any single commercial entity.” Most volumetric manufacturers host their own Web sites on which they post brand-specific news and tech notes. Mullin's guests can easily access these resources by clicking the appropriate icon in the sponsor bar area.
“Our goal is to promote the free exchange of information, innovation, and new material applications,” says Mullin. “I hope our group will create growth and improvements in all aspects of our industry. We invite people to share information, ideas, and experiences, as we all have room to grow and improve ourselves in the pursuit of safety, profitability, efficiency, and productivity.”