In the fall of 2010, the company made above-grade waterproofing mandatory in its standard foundation package. Today the Michel Concrete foundation package includes Tremco’s Tuff-N-Dri H8 on the below-grade portion of the foundation and Tremco Horizon, a paintable, white waterproofing product, on the above-grade portions of the wall. Other features include compaction of garage and porch fill in 8- to 12-inch lifts; installation of vertical steel per code; and installation of solid footing step-ups. “The other guys will provide these things as an option, but at Michel Concrete quality is not an option — it is standard,” Mary says. “Sometimes you need to make the right choice for customers. You need to help them spend their dollars the right way to ensure future satisfaction. We are the experts, and we know better.”
Michel Concrete promotes its foundation package with its new marketing slogan “All foundations are not created equal.” The company uses it in all its brochures, on its website and on t-shirts.
“We work with really good builders who recognize our quality. They know we are not here for just one job but are here for the long haul. Our builders have quite a bit of experience, and they know it only takes one mistake or change order from the competition to make up the bottom-line difference between our bid and theirs. Our builders know we can do the job and we will make them look good while we do it,” Mary says.
Michel Concrete sees growth in its future, but Mary and Jeff admit there are a few hurdles to overcome before moving the company to the next level. Finding key employees to take the lead and exhibit the same dedication and attention to detail the management team does is one. “As a mom and pop shop, it was easy for my dad to train employees and control quality — he was with his crews on every jobsite. As his company grew and his presence on jobsites became more irregular, it became harder to influence field decisions and attitudes. We struggle with this, too. It is our biggest limiting factor,” Mary says.
“Leadership, organization, attention to detail, ability to set the pace — it’s hard to find all those skills meshed together in one person. A lot of people have some of those skills, but very few have all of them,” Jeff adds.
Building a library of policies and procedures for everything the company does, especially building procedures, is also high on the company’s priority list. “A McDonalds hamburger is the same in every restaurant you go to. Defining policies and procedures that create organization, define construction methods and set quality standards will allow us to influence crews, whether we are physically present on the job or not,” Mary says. “We want to get procedures down on paper so our employees can consistently provide the same quality foundation every time.”
Although Michel Concrete was established just over three years ago, its employees bring years of experience and success to the young construction firm. Its dedication to quality, plans for a well-monitored growth and flexible business model will help the company build upon its roots and prove that all foundations are not created equal.