Chicago ready-mix company Henry Frerk Sons keeps up with the times with mobile mixers, high-performance concrete mixes.

When mixer manufacturers developed truck-mounted units, many local feed and building supply stores expanded their offerings to include "ready-mixed" concrete. It's a trend that continues today.

In the heart of busy Chicago, Henry Frerk Sons is thriving while other traditional suppliers have closed their doors in the face of cutthroat competition. What's the secret of its loyal customer constituency? Service has been the company's No. 1 priority since 1887, when Henry Frerk, a German immigrant, took advantage of the enormous building boom in Chicago by diversifying his feed business on the city's northwest side. His philosophy is to strive to give customers what they want with the best service possible.

In 1966 Rodger Frerk, grandson of Henry, entered the ready-mixed concrete industry by purchasing a volumetric mobile mixer, a completely new service concept in the Chicago area. The mobile mixer could transport the concrete ingredients to a jobsite and mix them at the point of discharge, offering a truly fresh product. Frerk could charge the customer for only the yardage used, since there was no returned concrete. Delays in city traffic would not threaten concrete quality. And since it was possible to field-batch any mix design, one truck could often handle more than one small order per trip. This situation ideally suited the "short load" customer, one the large ready-mix companies found unprofitable. Today Henry Frerk Sons operates six mobile mixers adapted to produce high-performance concrete.

By 1992 the Frerk mobile mixers had gained significant experience with a variety of specialty concrete such as latex-modified, superplasticized, and low-slump mixes.

In spring 1996, Frerk Sons obtained the concrete work on the Chicago O'Hare Airport runway rehabilitation project, repositioning itself from local building materials supplier to regional high-performance concrete producer in the process.

Other significant high-performance projects supplied by Henry Frerk Sons include the Lake Shore Drive Reconstruction, Chicago (1996); O'Hare Airport Parking Structure Rehabilitation, Chicago (1996); Michigan Avenue Reconstruction, Chicago (1997); and the Midway Airport Parking Structure Helical Ramps, Chicago (1999). One recent notable project in which the company was involved was an Illinois DOT latex-modified concrete overlayment on the I-80 river bridge in Joliet, Ill.

Although concrete and delivery technology have changed over the past 113 years, the company's pursuit of the goal Henry Frerk established—give customers what they want with the best service possible—has not.