Concrete inFocus - Spring 2013 - (Page 6)

corporate suite Inside the Head of a National Client Jon Hansen T he advice was straightforward: “Just tell them how long-lasting, sustainable, and good concrete is and how it reflects light better so it is safer, and how they will spend less on maintenance.” I thanked the giver for the advice, and then asked only one question: “Tell me who in that company makes the decision and I will focus only on that person.” Understanding the decision-making process and advocating for major change is a challenging endeavor. You might be talking to the company architect, only to find that the decision is going to be made in the real estate division. Or you may read that a CEO has made a public announcement in favor of being “green and sustainable” only to find out the focus is on recycling waste paper and carpooling. Most of NRMCA’s national clients see buildings as a necessary component for conducting business and building buildings only as a means to do more of what they really 6 ı SPRING 2013 do. As one client explained, “We are in the business of selling pills. We only build stores so we can sell more pills.” It’s true! Our client are generally not in the business of building buildings. And when a national client is on track to build more than 300 stores a year, it is not always about doing it right or good or for the long term, but about satisfying upper management and investors and realizing the quickest return on investment in the business of selling pills. When the order comes down to build 300 more stores this year, no one wants to change a known into an unknown. Put yourself in that position. Would you change a tried and true method without knowing its effect on your budget and timeframe? So the question becomes, How do you make change seamless and profitable? We need to make the transition from asphalt to concrete worthwhile. The fact is, most of our potential clients would like to have concrete paving, but fear of the unknown keeps them from pursuing it. Only a couple of times have I been told someone is “not interested” in concrete under any circumstances. And when these naysayers are pushed further as to “why,” their objections are obsolete, uninformed or misconceived. The old adage says that we were given two ears and one mouth, and we should use them in that proportion. That’s extremely important in dealing with decision-makers. Too many times we set ourselves on selling what we think the client wants, not what he or she really wants. Recently, a national client about to make a decision in favor of concrete or asphalt informed everyone in the room that he wanted “facts only.” No hype, no sales pitch, no personal opinions. This gave the concrete guys a huge advantage. Here are some facts: ACI 330 is the only industry standard for parking lot design. Engineering News-Record tracks the cost of construction material in cities across the United States. Including a concrete specification for parking lots in bid documents increases competition and lowers all paving bids no matter which material is successful. And now, for the first time in as long as anyone can remember, concrete can bring a lower first cost with equal design. Let the facts roll! Speaking of facts, here’s one that might surprise you. At national clients, new construction is the responsibility of one team while another handles maintenance and repair. And seldom do the teams talk to each other! A designer doesn’t want to hear your well-thought-out argument about long-term durability. Both teams are charged with staying on budget, but if new construction views one material as cheaper and also acceptable, it can remain on budget for first cost, and the extra long-term cost burden to maintenance and repair. Fortunately for us, and as a result of the slower economy, companies are mandating cost-cutting across the board and that is forcing the teams to get together to find ways to reduce overall cost. With that, the facts again fall in our favor. ■ Jon Hansen is a senior national resource director for NRMCA. Contact him at 515-266-1058 or

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Concrete inFocus - Spring 2013

Corporate Suite
Enviro Scene
A Legacy in Construction
CalPortland Slip Form Success
Fly Ash FAQ
Acceptance Test Reports for Ready Mixed Concrete
First Batch Plant Certifications in Mongolia
Index of Advertisers
Taking It to the Streets
Impact of Specifications on Concrete Quality

Concrete inFocus - Spring 2013