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Starting Them Off Young

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My son insists that my one-year-old granddaughter marked her entry into the concrete industry last month on his overlay project. I doubt she accomplished this without some help. But it brings up the question, when and how did you first introduce your kids to our industry?

When we review our annual World of Concrete post-show attendee survey, there’s always one question and answer set that attracts the attention of our upper management. The survey question asked, “How many years have you worked in the concrete and/or masonry industry?"

More than half of the respondents of the World of Concrete attendees self-report that they’ve been active in our industry for more than 15 years. The proportion of attendees with this length of service seems to be only slightly larger than attendees report in other trade shows. But there is a striking difference.  When you compare the World of Concrete results to other events, our attendees’ 15 years of experience seems to be achieved at a younger age. Many of our “experienced” guests haven’t reached their 35th birthday.  

The youthfulness of our attendee’s industry start has documented for years. Our past editorial surveys found a very similar trend. Concrete Construction magazine’s subscribers often reported 25 years of industry experience at the ripe age of 45.

There’s a very valid reason for this. We are a family-centric industry. So, we start our kids young.

For me, Saturday mornings were highly anticipated truck rides with my kids. The treks included stops at the plant where we played a game of hide-and-seek with the highlift as I checked stockpiles. Then we would ride around the town to the jobs we had serviced that week. If the kids were lucky, we had a short pour happening.  They’d watch the mixers discharge, the pumps pump, and the finishers travel across the slab on their “magic” riding trowels. The morning ended with a pickup steam bath at the car wash followed by lunch at the Bozo’s hot dog stand.

If I knew the finisher at the pour well, he would find an obscure spot on the slab where my youthful sidekicks could imprint their initials in the fresh concrete. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that as soon as we left, the finisher rubbed out their markings. So, to this day, they proudly tell their adult friends where they have left their mark on our city’s iconic structures.

As the kids got older, Saturday morning trips became more of a way to get them out of their mother’s way or in some cases an opportunity to make some cash. They learned how to shovel from under tail pulleys, unload supplies in the stockroom or sweep out the dispatch room. Two of my three kids eventually became ACI field technicians and made test cylinders. Their experiences in the concrete and masonry industry provided a strong foundation on which they are building successful careers.   

But I think my son may have just set a new family record of early concrete initiation. Last month, he volunteered to repair his aunt’s interior garage slab. After some slab leveling, he placed a thin concrete patch overlay near the slab’s edge. So just as the concrete hardened, my son says that he helped my 1-year-old granddaughter hold a joint pointer to scratch in her initials on the slab surface. Hopefully, the repair will be durable and when my granddaughter gets older, she’ll go back and see the repair.

I’m sure my family’s introduction to our industry isn’t too different than yours. Many of you have engraved your family’s start in the industry somewhere on a slab or in a wall.

Let’s try to highlight the family aspect of our industry by sharing these experiences. Please send me some images along with a brief note about your industry-starting experiences. Don’t get too specific, just the fun details.

I’d like to post a brief picture gallery of the starts as a tribute to our industry demonstrating that our families are the foundation of the concrete and masonry construction industries.

Send your stories to Editor Rick Yelton email address at the following email address.

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