Several years ago, a precast concrete producer unveiled plans to cast elements for a new sports facility near our ready-mixed concrete plant in La Vergne, Tenn. The newcomer asked if we would be interested in providing fresh concrete until the new facility was finished.

Never one to turn away business, we met with the owners, production manager, and quality control personnel. We learned about their mix designs and how they wanted us to make the deliveries. After the deal was struck and everyone was satisfied with the arrangements, I filled out the necessary paperwork for the correct billing.

When I turned the information in to my secretary, she asked what the customer was going to use the material for. I told her that the concrete would be used to cast a number of pre-cast shapes that would be used on the project. I think she was worried we were delivering our soul to the enemy in a drum.

But when I mentioned this primarily would include seating and support elements for a sports stadium, her interest peaked. It's hard to explain, but there's something surreal about the affection Southern women have for football.

All this was going on as Nashville was finishing construction of the football stadium that would be home to the Tennessee Titans. My secretary was now very interested in learning everything she could about how the concrete pieces fit in the construction puzzle. She had been with us for about a year and even though she came with some construction experience, the thought that concrete was helping to bring professional football to Nashville was exciting.

So she began to take a personal interest in the precast concrete production process. When she noticed that we were developing new mixes that would produce the necessary strengths in the shortest time frame, she asked why. And whenever our QC manager would work on them, she was right there with him.

Questions and more questions

A few weeks after the precast production started, I invited her to visit the new plant. As we watched the truck discharge the concrete into the forms, she was full of questions. How soon would the mix reach the desired strength? How would the elements be transported to the jobsite? How would they be connected to each other? The wheels inside her brain continued to turn.

The following Monday morning when I arrived at the office, she was all smiles. She had attended a football game over the weekend. After telling me about the action on the field, she proceeded to explain how she took a hard look at the construction of the football stadium.

At halftime, her husband and another couple who had attended the game with them commented about how these stadiums were built. Their questions were her cue. She impressed them with her knowledge about concrete's role in the football stadium's construction.

I thought it was great that a young fan of the game had become an ambassador for our industry. Now when she discusses sports and brings up names like Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, “Refrigerator” Perry, Johnny Unitas, and Terry Bradshaw, she also talks about SCC, forms, and anchor plates.

jimambrose@aol.com