Clay Fischer, Woodland Construction Co. Doing the right thing
Some successful contractors feel that just doing their job well is enough of a payback to the concrete industry; others feel the need to do more. Clay Fischer, president of Woodland Construction Co., Jupiter, Fla., is in the latter category. For example, he recently made a $25,000 contribution to American Society of Concrete Contractor's (ASCC) Education, Research & Development Foundation, which had been languishing for many years. “We contributed because I think that as an industry we need to be doing more practical research to benefit the contractor and this industry has been good enough to us that we feel we need to give back to it.”
But his industry involvement doesn't end there. Fischer recently served for a year as president of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA), is currently an ASCC vice president, and serves on the executive advisory council for the Concrete Industry Management program. This industry involvement, of course, is not completely altruistic. “It all pays back in a huge way,” he says. “Just look at the horsepower at a TCA meeting, for example. The wealth of knowledge you get from all these people is powerful and they are willing to share it.”
Fischer founded Woodland Construction in south Florida in 1987, intending to be a small general contractor. The way he tells it, his company ended up in the tilt-up concrete business “by accident.” When a competitor got into financial trouble and was unable to finish some tilt-up work for a larger GC, he was asked to finish the job. “It [tilt-up construction] became a specialty for us and we never looked back—this is the horse we are going to ride,” he says.
Jeanne Fischer, Clay's wife, has been an integral part of the business since the beginning. “Jeanne keeps an eye on the business management and the nickels and dimes and information technology stuff,” he says. “My brother, Gary, also works with us. Between the three of us, it's really a family business and we complement one another really well.”
Fischer runs his entire business like a family. “One of the models we have with all our people is QAL—quality of life—not only for our customers but also for our employees and suppliers. We try to stay away from adversarial relationships and work with the people we want to work with. You have to do the right thing no matter how much it hurts at the time. If we make a mistake we correct it. All you have is your reputation and your people.”Bev Garnant, American Society of Concrete Contractors Synchronizing leadership with opportunity
It could be that the planets are in the proper alignment, but it's more likely that bringing a good executive on board just when initiatives and opportunities were becoming abundant has been a fortunate coincidence for the American Society of Concrete Contractors. Bev Garnant signed on as the organization's executive director early in 2003, after having done public relations work for the group for several years prior, including promoting and helping organize ASCC's first annual conference in 2002.
The success of that first conference helped boost the industry's awareness of ASCC, which was further heightened by Tommy Ruttura becoming president of the organization. Garnant points to that period as the time when ASCC began to be recognized as “the voice of the concrete contractor.”
Garnant had always appreciated the passion ASCC board members had for what they were doing for the industry, their desire to improve and also to help each other learn. And as she became familiar with more of the members, she realized this attitude was pervasive throughout the organization. When she became executive director, a real mobilization began within ASCC.
Since then many more people have become actively involved in the group's initiatives. One highly successful project to which many ASCC members have contributed had its genesis at the 2002 CEO Forum sponsored by CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION when flooring issues were the hot topic. Out of that came ASCC's Position Statements, which now number more than two dozen.
ASCC membership has also grown, now numbering about 525 member companies and boasting an excellent retention rate.
Also, since Garnant came aboard the ASCC Education, Research, and Development Foundation has been revitalized. Operating under a new board and with additional funding, the foundation is now supporting the Concrete Industry Management program and is participating in a research initiative with ACI Committee 302, Construction of Concrete Floors.
The group's annual conferences continue to grow, thanks to Garnant, the ASCC staff, and the many active participants. The most recent gathering, in Milwaukee, drew 340 attendees, more than three times the number attending the first conference just four years ago.
Among the things Garnant is most proud of these days are ASCC's liaison activities with ACI and its continued strategic alliance with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. And that list, and ASCC, continues to grow.