Mike Schneider is a veteran of the concrete industry, having spent the last 27 years with Baker Concrete Construction, helping that company grow to be one of the largest concrete contractors in the country.
He currently serves as the company’s vice president of operations, but he also holds the office of president of the American Society of Concrete Contractors. He took office in 2004 and with a year left on his term, he feels like the association has accomplished a lot, but that there’s still a lot of work to do. Concrete Concepts talked to Schneider about his time in office and what he’d still like to accomplish.
What are you proud of from your first year in office?
We’ve got a new strategic plan that we put together just before I came into office. That’s been important because it’s given us a road map of where we want to go. The position statements that ASCC has issued are also now being used in the industry. I’ve talked to architects, engineers and college professors about them and people are starting to take notice.
I think that’s really important because as the voice of the concrete contractor, we need to be out there helping them. It’s allowed us as an industry to say, “Here is what we think,” and given contractors something to defend themselves with.
We’ve also set up a strategic alliance with the American Concrete Institute with a goal of having more contractors on the committees. Historically, ACI has had a lot of theoreticians. The people writing the rules didn’t have to do the work. We’re trying to change that, because we all have to live with the standards that come out of ACI.
What are you hoping to accomplish in this coming year?
We had our first organized membership drive last year. That’s a start, but we’re always looking for new members. What we’re trying to do right now is go out and get some of the people in the industry that are good contractors, that are leaders, but haven’t been involved.
We’re also getting ready to publish a guide to flatwork. What it really addresses is “What are realistic expectations for concrete?” Concrete’s going to crack, but we need to set the expectations for cracks, for tolerances, for finishing. It’s all part of our mission of supporting the concrete contractor.
You talked about getting more members. What can ASCC do to bring in more contractors?
If we can get people to the CEO Forum or to the annual conference, we’ve got a pretty good rate of people that become members. Getting them to that first event is always the challenge.
We rely a lot on our members to get the word out. Our manufacturer members often will bring in contractors they work with. We’re also starting to get some brand recognition out there. We’re reaching that critical mass where we are known in the industry and that brings people in, as well.
Why should contractors join ASCC? What can they expect to get out of it?
We offer a lot of member benefits, such as safety information, seminars and publications. I think the biggest benefit is that it can help you become a better businessperson. Most of us got into this industry without a lot of knowledge on how to run a business. You can be as good technically as you want to, but without business knowledge, you’re not going to succeed.
Most of the people that are involved in ASCC do it because they have a passion to give back to the industry. We’re always willing to share our experiences. What we’re trying to do is raise the bar. We don’t mind bidding against good competition, but it’s hard to compete against ignorance.
What you get out of the organization truly depends on how much you put in. Contractors that get involved on committees and come to events are going to really benefit from being involved.
Why did you get involved with ASCC?
I’ve been with Baker for 27 years, and from the beginning Dan Baker was involved in local associations. As I grew with the company, Dan always preached getting involved and doing work with the associations. The industry has been very good to me personally, therefore I have a desire to give back to the industry.