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.

Friday, April 11, 2014

So this is who Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC is...!

Interested in Decorative Concrete for your home or business? Curious about who Yoder Concrete Construction, LLC really is? Maybe you drive past our business and love the new decorative concrete sign and display and wonder what is really happening here...

Here is an amazing video that will answer a lot of your questions. And it may create new questions on how we can help create the project you have been dreaming about. 

YCC Video - Click HERE!

Glow in the dark concrete?  Reallly?? Yes, we can do that.
Grain bin foundations and storage facilities, barn foundations and floors, yes we can do that.
Industrial paving, dock installation and repair, trench drains...
City streetscapes and concrete skate parks, YES, we do that too!

Watch the crew in action building the sign in front of our West Liberty, Ohio facility from the ground up.

If you love what you see, give us a call or stop by our shop to learn more. We would love to help create your DREAM project from beginning to end.

Visit for more information.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Employee Training a Priority

Greetings from the Arctic!  Ok, it really isn't the Arctic but it sure feels like it here in Ohio. It was 1 degree below zero this morning, warming up from a frigid 17 below yesterday at this time. However, the sun is shining and the snow is a beautiful sparkling white. And spring will arrive soon (I hope!)

I have been remiss on posting about the great training our staff has attended over the last few months.  It is very exciting how we are always learning new things to make sure we are offering the best of our trade to our customers. In August our entire staff, except our admin, attended various training sessions at the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC) Annual Conference held right in our back yard in Columbus, Ohio. What a great opportunity!  Two of us attended the Rocky Geans' Concrete Construction Business School. This training had two information packed days of everything to do with operating a concrete construction business, from marketing and sales to estimating and job costing and everything in between.  The crewleaders of our business attended "Construction Leadership from A to Z", while the rest of the crews attended seminars on controlling cracking and placing concrete in bad weather. All agreed it was worthwhile training and fun to interact with other concrete professionals.

Border StampSafety training is a must in the industry and within our company. We have been trained on a variety of topics this past year including, but not limited to, general safety awareness, hearing conservation, the new Globally Harmonized System and Hazardous Chemicals, operating a fire extinguisher, personal protective equipment, CPR/AED and more.

Most recently, two of our guys attended training at Deco-Crete Supply in Columbus, OH on Vertical and Decorative Overlays.  The guys loved the training and are very excited about what they learned. We now have the ability and skills to overlay flatwork (on the ground) and also on the vertical (on a wall.)  It can be done in a regular broom finish, a knock off finish, stamped, stenciled, or hand carved. And with the freezing temperatures outside, they have been able to use their skills to overlay two walls and the floor in our conference room.  In the photos you can see that they overlayed and stamped the lower section of our conference room in a mountain dry stack pattern and also overlayed, stamped and hand carved the column. All of it was stained and sealed. The floor is the next project with a decorative overlay and an epoxy finish. You'll have to visit our office to see how it turns out!

These finishes would be great in a new or existing basement or around a fireplace. Have you considered cultured stone? We can create the same look with vertical overlays. We'd love to help create your dream home or even your ideal man cave. The possibilities are endless! Do you have an idea for  using decorative overlays? Share them with us!