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Oldcastle Precast Inc. – Southern California Region

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For nearly 35 years, Oldcastle Precast Inc.’s Southern California division has been a leader serving the Southern California utility market. “We have built long-term relationships with our utility companies, municipalities and contractors through providing innovative and reliable solutions,” Vice President of Sales Phil Felten says. 

This has helped the company earn a high rate of repeat business with clients on the West Coast. 

“We pride ourselves on and continually work towards developing long-term working relationships,” he says. “We do this by recognizing our customer’s needs and expectations. Then we ensure that they are being provided exceptional customer service, quality products and competitive pricing. This approach has allowed us to enjoy customers that, in many cases, have been in place since we started over 35 years ago.”

Based in Auburn, Wash., Oldcastle Precast is a leading solutions provider to the utility and transportation markets and has a significant breadth of product, including precast concrete, polymer concrete and plastic products to clients nationwide. Its Southern California operation specializes in serving the utilities, gas, power, water, communications, marine, transportation and custom solutions markets.

West Coast Division President Mike Scott notes that this portion of the business was formed in 1981, when Oldcastle Inc. acquired Utility Vault Co. and its locations in California. Today, the division has four locations in Southern California, including a distribution center in Santa Paula and three manufacturing facilities in Fontana, San Diego and Perris. 

The division’s products range from utility vaults to pre-stressed piles. Its product offerings also include storm and sanitary manholes, catch basins and other sewer items, he says. ”We address various segments of the contracting community,” he says.

Oldcastle Precast regularly competes in Southern California against local companies, Director of National Marketing Bob Kramer adds. However, “We’re one of the few that has a national footprint,” he says. “Oldcastle is regularly referred to as a leader in the industry.”

A Good Fit

The Southern California division is taking steps to grow, Felten says. “We will soon be opening a reinforced concrete pipe operation in Lakeside, which is in San Diego County,” he explains.

Currently, “There’s only one [reinforced concrete pipe] supplier in California,” he says, noting that this will fit well into Oldcastle Precast’s operations and complements its other stormwater harvesting and sanitary/storm manhole product lines.

These include Storm Capture, a stormwater management system that works as a “water retention and detention basin,” Felten says. “These basins often contain our stormwater filtration products that capture and treat sediments, debris, trash, petroleum hydrocarbons, etc., contained in the stormwater run-off.”

“We are committed to be leaders in stormwater solutions,” Kramer adds, noting that Oldcastle Precast’s 2014 acquisition of Kristar Enterprises Inc. was the catalyst for this plan.

The company, founded in 1993, had successfully developed stormwater management products that met federal, state and local regulations. “Kristar really provides a platform to grow nationally,” Kramer says.

Keeping Customers Happy

Oldcastle Precast operates each day with the strategy to be “the No. 1 solutions provider in the utility and transportation industries,” Kramer explains. “We can effectively serve local and national customers.”

The company’s tools to measure costs and performance help it maintain this status. This includes a continued focus on five operating fundamentals that guide its work: safety, quality, efficiency, preventive maintenance and housekeeping.

“We’ve also been doing a lot of self-examination recently in what makes us different,” he continues, noting that this includes making sure that its associates embody integrity when working with vendors and customers. “We want there to be a pretty consistent experience people have with Oldcastle that revolves around trust and relationships.”

Although Oldcastle Precast may still have some room to improve, “Folks are generally pretty happy with us,” he says. “Somehow, we’ve figured out across the group how to keep customers pretty darn happy.”

What It’s All About

Manufacturing quality is also critical at Oldcastle Precast. Some companies have implemented lean in their operations, but Oldcastle Precast utilizes its own version called “Cast,” Kramer notes.

Like lean, “It’s designed to identify and eliminate waste in every part of the process, every day,” he explains. “That’s what it’s all about in our business. All employees are encouraged to identify anything that stands in the way of manufacturing products safely and efficiently. The feedback from all our employees is critical to continuous improvement.” 

In the end, “We want to see people progressing in their careers,” Kramer explains. “We tend to push this as not just a job. We know that’s what fuels growth.”

Fueling the Future 

The construction industry is experiencing a shortage in available skilled labor, Kramer says. “One of the biggest challenges for our industry  is recruiting and retaining [workers],” he says.

But the company is coping through multiple initiatives, including “a recruiting team that is out there actively trying to promote and recruit salaried employees,” he says. “We also have partnerships with various higher education institutions.”

These include a series of colleges that Oldcastle Precast has targeted with internships. “Those are meant to fuel future needs,” Kramer states. California State University, Chico is one example. 

Oldcastle Precast also promotes from within when it can, Felten adds. “[We always] see if there’s someone we need that we can promote into a position,” he says.

Despite these challenges, Oldcastle Precast will continue to stay focused on growing its business, Kramer says. “We’ve got a lot of work to do executing our vision, which is to be the leader in every market,” he says. “We’ll continue to show the way in terms of providing solutions and innovating.”