Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 BBB Torch Award Recipient

Typically we are humble people. We prefer to work in the background and not be in the limelight. However, this is one time that I have to brag a little. Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC, the leaders and employees, have received an award, and I have to tell everyone about it!

In 1994 the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio began honoring local business leaders who exemplified the BBB mission of demonstrating their commitment to highest standards of leadership character ethics. Since that first year, twenty years ago, more than 80 central Ohio businesses and nonprofit organizations have been recognized by receiving the Torch award, originally called the Business Integrity Award.

A few years ago I attended a workshop on how to prepare the application for this award.  I learned that there were six principles that needed to be demonstrated on how leaders intentionally work to increase manifestations of their own high character and enfold their employees, customers, vendors and the community within that framework. It was a little overwhelming and I wasn't sure we were ready to apply.  Busyness got in the way, and time passed.

In April of 2015 I ventured to Columbus, Ohio, again to attend the Torch Awards for Ethics Clinic. Along with approximately fifteen other company representatives, we learned about the history of the award, criteria used for eligibility and judging, and the principles that were being evaluated. The Principles make up the word TRUST!  - Principle #1 Transformation at the "Top;" Principle #2 Reinforce and Build the culture of high character ethics; Principle #3 Unite the Team; Principle #4 Steer Performance within your team; Principle #5 Treasure People; and Principle #6 Enthusiastically Reinvest! in your community.  This time I felt we were much more prepared to tackle this opportunity.  I was also informed that the application process was now online, which sounded so much easier than preparing a physical notebook!  I was thrilled. 

Part of the application process was asking others to prepare a testimonial to include in our submission.  I asked employees, customers, vendors and community leaders if they would be willing to write a letter that would state, in their words, our dedication to high ethics and commitment to people and the community.  I was overwhelmed at the response received.  It was very humbling to hear words of praise and encouragement from others. Instead of one letter for each category requested, I was able to send three letters for each because of the outpouring of our peers. I thank each one of them who took time out of their busy schedule to write letters on our behalf. 

On Tuesday, October 20th, Jeff and I attended the 20th Anniversary Celebration of BBB Torch Awards for Ethics.  It was held at The Ohio State University, Ohio Union in the Archie M Griffin Grand Ballroom.  Four businesses and two nonprofit organizations received the 2015 Torch Awards for Ethics, and ten high school students received the 2015 BBB Students of Integrity award. I would estimate that over 250 people were in attendance for this luncheon. A video that had been prepared by the BBB was shown for each organization receiving an award. (You can view all of the recipients' videos on the BBB website.) We invited guests to join us and were blessed to have four of our peers at our table to celebrate with us.  I want to especially thank Scott Duff from Ohio Ready Mix, Debbie Hill Grimes from Bryce Hill, Hugh Gibbs from White Cap and Todd Hanes from Adriel for taking time to be there.  We appreciate the relationships developed over the years. 

It has been a great journey working with my husband, Jeff Yoder, and building the company we have today. We look forward to continuing the legacy and impacting others through our faith, and will continue to strive for high character ethics in our personal lives and in the business. I love you, Honey!
~Roberta Yoder

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Half way there 2014

I just read the opening lines to an article talking about us being halfway through the summer. As a mom, with school starting just a few weeks away, summer seems much further along than "half way."  But in the concrete business, we are only half way through the season. For us here in Ohio, the construction season typically starts around April 1st, depending on how Mother Nature treats us, and winds down around December 15th again depending on the weather. So we are just about half way.

So how is your year going? Now is the time, regardless of how busy you are, to take a look at your business and review how the first half of the year has been.  Are you on track to be profitable? What is your plan for the rest of the year to finish with a strong bottom line?  Here are some tips based on how we review our business this time of year that might be helpful.

Review your Profit & Loss Statement:  In the concrete construction business in Ohio, first quarter financials are never pretty. Winters can be a challenge in which to work, and if we do work, it takes longer and with more resources than it would in the summer. So while I look at the P&L for the first half, I also run it for each quarter and compare it to the previous year.  I review each line to see if there are any significant increases or decreases and then ascertain what caused the swings. For us this year, there has been a dramatic increase in fuel costs. While gas prices are high, they are not significantly higher than last year, but we have been working on projects much further away from our shop than usual, so I can justify it. Are there any other significant differences? If so, can you justify them, or is there something you need to investigate. I look at dollar changes, and also percent changes from last year. I look at each line as a percent of sales to see if there are trends over time. Now is the time to make adjustments for the second half of the year to move that bottom line to the black if not already there.

Review your Balance Sheet:  This is one report it took me a while to understand why I needed to review it. However, once I began to understand what it shows me, I found it to be a good tool to see a snapshot of the business. It will show you your bank balances, how much your customers owe you (accounts receivables,) and how much you owe others (liabilities.)  If you are having someone else do your books for you, make sure you request this report often and review it. It gives you a great overview of your business financials.

Sales: Compare your overall sales to the goals you set, or compare your numbers to last year. Are you growing? Are your sales people or estimators hitting their goals? Do you see a trend that you can build upon? Look at who your customers have been. Are they helping you grow your business?  You may find that you need to fire a customer if they are not helping you move forward.  We are also delving into each project type to determine where we are profitable. As our business evolves based on the demands of the market, we need to know where we can make money and where we fall short. It doesn't make sense as a for-profit business to continue to do work where it is not profitable.

Overhead:  Do you understand your overhead, where it comes from and how to manage it?  Your overhead includes any expenses that are not directly related to the project. If you can charge the expense to a job, it is not overhead but a Cost of Goods Sold (COGS.)  If the expense will be there regardless if you are working on a project, like your rent, phone and electric bills, etc.,  it is overhead. Talk to your accountant if you don't understand your overhead versus your job related expenses. George Headley also explains it well here.

Budget and Business Plan: Did you start your year with a budget and plan for your business?  If not, you can make one for the 2nd half of the year based on what you now know from reviewing your financials. And guess what? - a budget and business plan is a living document that will evolve and change just like your business!  They are not set in stone, so don't get too discouraged if your actual numbers don't match your budget. The budget will need to be adjusted from time to time. These plans are like road maps to success. Sometimes you need to alter your course, but at least you have direction to get where you want to go.

In thinking about being half way there, I am also reminded of someone who suggested that when you move into your late 40's, you still have half of your working life to obtain your goals. I have held on to that thought as I fit that category. The thinking was that you start your working career around age 25 to 30 and stop working around 65 or 70.  It was encouraging to me to think that I still have half of my working life to build my dream. I encourage you to dream big and set goals to make them come true. You may be, like me, only half way there.

Friday, May 16, 2014

So You Want a Decorative Concrete Driveway?

So I hear that you have been dreaming of replacing that old, crumbling driveway of yours. Of course, concrete is the only way to go - you want to do it right, if you are going to spend the money, right? Concrete would be great, but plain elephant concrete just doesn't appeal to you. You want your place to stand out in the crowd. Make it part of the curb appeal. One up your neighbor, maybe? What are the options that can still fit into the budget, you wonder... I am so glad you asked!  The excellent staff at Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC in West Liberty, Ohio are here to help!
A welcoming entrance to your home

Let's talk concrete...Do you want to start fancy or plain? Plain? Ok, let's begin at the beginning with plain old concrete. Regular concrete, delivered by the ready mix plant, will generally be a gray to white color placed with a broom finish and often edged along the sides to give it a smooth finished look.  Control joints, most often placed as saw cuts, are strategically placed where the contractor believes cracking could occur. (Their purpose is to guide the crack to follow that cut. Then you never even know your concrete cracked.  It is hidden in the cut! Cracks don't always obey, so don't be angry with your contractor if a crack decides to take a different route.)

Ok, how can we dress up this plain Jane concrete?  What if we add a few extra saw cuts to give some pattern to your concrete.  Who said you only have to have two or three cuts?  What if you add a diamond pattern to your driveway?  Or maybe a curved pattern like this homeowner wanted.  
Regular concrete with decorative saw cuts

 One step up would be to add integral color to the concrete. The color is added at the ready mix plant and mixed in the large drum while traveling from the plant to your home or business. Color options include grays, tans, browns, terra cotta, reds, and even green. You can keep the broom finish for a less expensive finish (less labor) but still add an upscale touch. Add some decorative saw cuts and you really having something going!

Regular concrete with a keystone stenciled border and apron
Integral color, stenciled border and diamond saw cuts
Another option would be to add a decorative border or ribbons. The less expensive option would be to stamp a brick, slate or stone border around the outside edges of the driveway without adding color or adding just a highlighting release color. My preference would be to add a contrasting color to the border to make it really stand out.  A stenciled brick border is a great option, offered in four different styles (herringbone being my favorite) or there are bushrock, keystone (another favorite) or an 18" flagstone border which is great for that wider driveway.  Color hardener and a release color are added on the stencil to give a great vibrant color contrast to your regular concrete driveway.  "Ribbons" are the same as borders only they are placed horizontally across the driveway, often placed where a control joint would be cut.

Stamped patio with a stenciled border and Compass inlay
Shown next is an inlay that can spice up an otherwise basic look. Decorative inlays are stencils and come in a variety of sizes and can be round or diamond shaped.  The "Compass" is a great addition to the middle of your driveway or patio and makes a great conversation piece.  Just make sure your contractor knows which way is north before they lay the stencil down!  (That is a mistake a contractor will only make once and never forget - yes, we're talking from experience.)

Your next option would be to add a pattern and color to the entire concrete surface.  This could be stamped or stenciled with your base color (either integral or using color hardener) and using a release agent with color creating a contrasting and more realistic look to the pattern.  A variety of patterns and colors are available. Our friends at Deco-Crete Supply  in Columbus and Orville, Ohio have a great website to view photos of decorative concrete, and you can even find their catalog of stamps available. We, at Yoder Concrete Construction, have many of these patterns as well, and all of Deco-Crete's are available for us to use.  

Stamped patio with brick stenciled border
Use your creativity and imagination to add any of these elements to your design. Thrown in a border and inlay to a stamped patio. I would encourage you to browse online for ideas and then call your contractor to get a detailed proposal of how he or she can create your dream project. If you are in the Urbana/Bellefontaine area, be sure to visit our outdoor showroom of decorative concrete samples. We have over 100 options for you to see and touch. What better way to make a "concrete" decision for your project! (Pun intended.) 
8874 N US Hwy 68, West Liberty, OH

If we can be of assistance, let us know! We'd be glad to help in the planning and placement of your next concrete project.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Two people asked me this morning, "Is Yoder Concrete Construction still hiring?"  My response was, "Yes, we are still accepting applications." The amount of bids we are cranking out is crazy, and the number of people saying that we will be doing work for them this year is amazing.  We are going to need some skilled concrete workers to be able to meet the need of the amount of work. We are so excited about the prospect for this year since the weather has finally gotten warmer. Do you know someone who is looking for work in the Urbana /Bellefontaine, Ohio area?  Do they have some concrete or general construction experience? Maybe you know someone who has their own concrete construction company and is tired of dealing with all of the paperwork and estimating and just wants to do what they love: pour and finish concrete.  At Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC, we focus on providing great training for our employees and giving them a great place to work, making them a part of a team creating something in which they can be proud. A lot of companies boast that they have a family oriented environment, and I guess we can do the same thing. Ask any of the employees here. We have each other's backs. 

Want to work in a positive work environment where you can see the results of that hard work at the end of the day? Concrete construction is a great field of work with job satisfaction, and Yoder Concrete Construction is a great employer. Stop in today for an application at 8874 N. US Hwy 68 just south of West Liberty, OH.