Launch Slideshow

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Looking Back & Ahead

Looking Back & Ahead

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Chris Davenport

January 2006

Chris Davenport graduated from the Concrete Industry Management (CIM) Program's first class at Middle Tennessee State University in spring 2000. He lives in Murfreesboro and sells concrete plant equipment for Barnes Industrial Group.

I wanted to be a college history professor. A gentleman in the concrete business in Nashville called and said there was an opportunity with this new program. The opportunity and the vastness of the industry became clear to me. It didn't take me long to change my major. I took a job out of college with Master Builders, and then started working for the Barnes Industrial Group.

The industry has surely changed in 10 years, as well as myself. There's a huge difference between being a 20-year-old man and a 30-year-old man. You have different life experiences.

Changes will continue the next 10 years, especially with NRMCA programs like the P2P initiative, trying to go from the old school way to getting to a truly engineered construction building material. I see that trend continuing, primarily due to technology such as new computer Windows-based batching software. Technology will greatly influence and increase the productivity and efficiencies of concrete construction.

Our industry will change dramatically due to the influx of a new generation of leaders. The CIM programs will greatly impact the industry's productivity, safety, and performance over the next 10 years. Typically, people in our industry have come from different segments of the marketplace and they somehow got into the concrete business. Now, we have a tailored approach to getting someone into the industry from the ground level, where they truly understand the product.

Kitty HoyleApril 2005

Kitty Hoyle is the owner of Wellington Hamrick in Boiling Springs, N.C., a family ready-mix business she has expanded tenfold over the past 10 years.

I read somewhere that women-owned businesses grow slower and fail less often. Our company has been true to that axiom; we've enjoyed steady growth. When the economy cools, some of the people who measure their growth by volume get scared, and they try and undercut the competition.

The concrete industry doesn't need to be a volume business. You can sell service and quality. The market is wide open in this industry for added value services and creative marketing. Overall, it seems to be a kinder, gentler concrete industry than it was 10 years ago, and it should be.

One of the most influential people for me has been Garwin McNeilus, the founder of McNeilus Companies. He brought great products to the industry and sold them to everybody, no matter how big or small they were. If they needed help paying for it, McNeilus would help with the financing. This approach has been instrumental to small companies' success. Vendors seem to be more service-oriented to smaller companies.

The acceptance of women also seems to be growing. I tell other women, if you have skills you can use in this kind of business, you can probably make more money here than almost anywhere else. In the future, my dream would be that nobody notices that you're a woman. It wouldn't even be a factor.

— Stories edited by associate editor Shelby O. Mitchell and managing editor Tom Bagsarian.