Several concrete producers have thrown their hats into the political ring to fulfill a personal commitment of sharing their business expertise and talents to improve the lives of others.

Type A personality Tom Flynn, 45, president of Flynn Ready-Mix Concrete in Dubuque, Iowa, is serving his second term and seventh year as a state senator in Iowa's 17th District. During the legislative session, Flynn makes a three-and-a-half-hour trip by car to the state capital in Des Moines and puts in 12-hour days Monday through Thursday before heading back home on Friday and catching up on work on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is family day.

Never without his cellular phone, Flynn also uses his laptop computer, fax, and personal data assistance systems as well as the old reliable "to do list" in his pocket to organize his life. Flynn estimates that when he's away from the office, he gets about six calls a day from his company's management team.

After selling Norwalk Concrete Industries in Norwalk, Ohio, to his two sons five years ago, the now-73-year-old Tom Lendrum worked as an engineering consultant. But he was unfulfilled. With 40 years of business and management expertise, Lendrum found himself campaigning door to door on many afternoons and nights and was elected to the 63rd District of the Ohio House of Representatives this year.

Lendrum says producers can begin a political life by serving part time on school boards or city councils, or as township trustees. "Find out if you're going to like it," he advises. "Then when you retire you can really get into the political scene."

Producer Mark W. Stiles happily "stepped on a few toes" at the Texas House of Representatives. His 125,000 constituents from District 21 voted the Democrat into office for eight terms from 1982û1999 before Stiles elected to return to the business world full time.

Stiles, 52, is group president of Transit Mix Concrete and Materials in Beaumont, Texas, and senior vice president of the Dallas-based parent company, Trinity Industries.

Stiles kept in contact via a telephone line and fax installed in his government office. He worked 12-hour days and spent about 20 hours working for his company on his off days. How difficult is it to run a business when you're not physically present on a daily basis? It can be done, Stiles says, if you have access to company reports.