The technical nature of many of ABI Corp.'s residential jobs and its belief in keeping up with the latest equipment technologies poised the company for an easy transition into commercial work. The difficult part was establishing the company's reputation with commercial GCs in the area.
While marketing was mostly by word-of-mouth on the residential side, marketing the company on the commercial side took a little more time in building relationships with GCs. Dan's brother, Mike Bromley, who heads up the sales and estimating division, made personal visits to general contractors to present the company and its capabilities. "Something that helped us get our foot in the door was our willingness to bid projects for 'what ifs,'" Mike Bromley says. "We did a lot of bids for jobs that didn't go through, and the GCs appreciated that."
With the company firmly planted in the commercial realm, Dan says the management team can work on redesigning its marketing literature, keeping in touch with its customers through the company newsletter and getting the word out about its recent designation as a Certified Foundations Company through the CFA. (See sidebar for more information on CFA certification.)
And as the market picks up, Dan says the company has goals for further increasing its commercial presence through its flatwork division and pervious concrete installations. Future equipment considerations will need to be useful on commercial projects, such as laser-guided grading and placing equipment, commercial forms, and a curb and gutter machine. And ABI Corp. plans to send more employees through training programs like the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) pervious certification, OSHA 10 and the American Concrete Institute (ACI) flatwork technician program.
Diversification is a strong tool for many construction companies, but Dan says it doesn't mean ABI Corp. will abandon its roots. Just as the residential market has changed over the last 40 years - with more complicated building plans and a stronger need for technology - Dan saw the needs of his company change, too. "Residential work is our anchor business," he says. "We just want to separate out the commercial and have two focuses in our company so we're prepared for the ups and downs in the economy."
ABI Corp. recently completed the concrete work for a LEED certified building. To read more about the unique aspects of this project see "Bottoms Up: Turing Pumping Upside Down".
At a Glance
Company: ABI Corp., Lee's Summit, Mo.
President: Dan Bromley
Affiliations: CFA, ACI, ACPA, PCA, NAHB
Residential and commercial concrete foundations, walls and flatwork; insulated walls; waterproofing; excavation; silt fencing; retaining walls.
Key products and equipment:
Forming systems from Western Forms, Wall-Ties & Forms and Precise Forms; 39 meter Schwing pump; Putzmeister Telebelt; Con Forms pump discharge hose; Cat loaders; Tremco's Tuff-N-Dri and Watchdog waterproofing systems; GDB Software's Auto Crete; Trimble total stations; CertainTeed ThermaEZE; Thermomass by Composite Technology Corp.; TOMMY Silt Fence Machine by Carpenter Erosion Control; World Block; Komatsu excavator; Takeuchi skid-steers; Agracat Stone Spreaders by Baylynx Mfg.; cranes from Palfinger and Putzmeister.
In the mid-1980s, ABI Corp. joined the Concrete Foundations Association (CFA). ABI Corp. President Dan Bromley is currently serving as president of the CFA, and his father, Gary Bromley, is a past president of the association. One of the initiatives Dan has helped to bring about through his involvement in the CFA is the Cast-In-Place Concrete Foundation Contractor Certification Program. "My hope is the certification will make the industry more professional," Dan Bromley explains. "With enough certified companies the association can move forward with nationwide marketing and hopefully get a requirement for certification written into building specifications."