The cameras are watching as Diane Macchio starts her day at DKN Ready Mix. Her story is so unique that a reality TV crew is filming her to show what it's like to be a New York City woman working in concrete. “If the program takes off, ok. If not, that's fine,” she says. “My main concern is getting this business off the ground.”
Known as the “Concrete Princess” by her peers and the media, Macchio opened DKN Ready Mix in March 2010, in Long Island City, N.Y. The company is named after herself and her children, Kelly and Nicholas. Giant DKN initials are painted on the 80-foot-tall silo looming over her plant, which can produce 200 yards of concrete an hour. Her fleet has nine trucks, and she is already in the market to buy more.
Macchio's royal nickname only refers to her long nails and high heels. She's tough as nails and has had to fight to survive. Nothing has come easy for this princess.
Macchio's industry education began at Speedy Concrete Pumping in New Hyde Park, N.Y., billing and booking jobs. She worked there for 10 years and learned the trade, including its nuances and players.
When her pay was cut due to the recession, she purchased three ready-mix trucks and began loading at other people's plants. “I thought whatever I could do with these three mixers would help pay for my kids' private schools,” she explains.
“In the beginning, everyone was kind to me,” remembers Macchio. “But as I started to develop a clientele, they started putting my trucks at the back of the line, so I would be late for my customers. I said, ‘Oh no, you're not running me out of town!'”
The experience only made her stronger. Instead of giving up, Macchio got financial backing and opened her own plant.
While she is determined to make DKN Ready Mix a long-term success, becoming a business owner hasn't been any easier than running her gypsy trucks. Macchio credits her partners, Tommy Philippou and Todd Rosolie, long-time industry veterans, with helping her through the rough spots.
She wants to make a difference in the industry by offering customers a higher level of respect, and a more feminine touch. She starts by treating them with courtesy. “If we're running late due to traffic or weather, we give the customer a call,” says Macchio. And she lets them know how long the delay will be instead of, “the truck is just around the corner.” Every customer, whether they are ordering one yard or 100 yards of concrete, gets the same attention and service.
Her plan seems to be working. With only word-of-mouth advertising, DKN has had a steady stream of new customers who have heard positive reviews. Sometimes it's hard for Macchio to believe the reality of all she's done. Maybe someday, we will be watching her reality on TV.
Kari Moosmann is cofounder of the Women in Concrete Alliance, an online networking resource for women in the concrete industry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.womeninconcrete.org to follow the group on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.