"Pumping is an intrinsic value-added service," says Bob Ellinwood, president of Best Mix Concrete Co. Inc., Hillsboro, Ore., who owns five boom trucks and pumps 30% to 35% of the concrete he produces.
The added value is moving concrete from the end of the chute to the point of placement, which the contractor pays for regardless of who does it. Fast, precise placement enhances that value by reducing labor requirements.
Producers' pumps also add value in other ways: The producer takes responsibility for the quality of the concrete in place, not as it's discharged from the chute. And customers can schedule work and change the schedule with only one phone call. The single source streamlines work and eliminates finger-pointing.
With a pump, the contractor can be at work even the day after a rain, when the ground is muddiest, thus saving dollars lost by weather delays. And by guaranteeing that the concrete and pump will be on site on time, you've added value to your services by reducing customer costs.
Producers also profit from using pumps, and cite several benefits:
Producers get more trips per day from their trucks when the trucks can back up to the pump hopper, discharge, and pull out. Often, trucks never even leave the street.
Discharging into a pump hopper on the street reduces truck wear and tear from driving in mud and rough terrain. Moreover, the pump gives producers a choice and saves truck wear. If the jobsite is muddy, the producer can use a pump instead.
Producing and placing concrete after rainy days gives producers additional revenue-generating days to offset fixed costs. Revenues from these extra days of plant production help to pay for batch plants, trucks, loaders and the pump--equipment that otherwise would have been idle. Also, in areas with no pumps except theirs, producers can run at close to full capacity on the muddy day and not be overloaded the next day, when concrete demand is even greater.
Many producers believe pumps help reduce fleet size over the long term, since they allow more efficient truck use.
If no other local producers have pumps, adding a pumping service can attract some of their customers.
There is more than one way a concrete producer can offer a concrete pumping service. The article presents questions the producer must ask himself, including to what degree he should compete with pumping contractors, whether the pumping service should be a separate business, what size pumps to buy, how many to own and how to charge for pumping.
Producers also risk giving away pumping services. If they cut deals on pumping to sell concrete, they're probably losing money on the pump. Value-added selling has to work both ways.
KEYWORDS: concrete pump