Safety Before All Else

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In this industry, safety isn’t something to take lightly.

At Mid-States Concrete Industries, safety is not a trend or something to sell or be really good at.  It's a journey, our way of life.  We do not compromise safety, ever.

Our vision is to change the world by being the safest and most innovative precast building company.  To ensure this vision is a reality, Mid-States has developed a safety mindset, not just a commitment.  To be truly safe, every employee must learn how to identify hazards and work as a team to eliminate those hazards.  We don't put people in to Mid-States, we put Mid-States in to our people and we train to build the mindset, to create world-class safety habits.

Every day, we are part of creating world-class buildings in which to live, work and play.  And to keep doing that, we must make sure our crews are staying safe, always.  In the plant, in the yard, out in the field, driving from job site to job site – everywhere.  We want our team members to go home to their families every single shift, in the same condition they arrived for their shift.

How do we do this?  Partly with events like Safety Days.  Conducted annually, Safety Days offers all of our team members a refresher course on the company’s safety guidelines and policies.  Safety Days is led by Mike Wolff, Vice President of Safety and Quality.

“Every year, we have customers call to say you guys are the safest guys (they have) ever seen,” Mike shared.

It took plenty of work and dedication for the team to get to this point.  In addition to in-depth internal training of all new employees, and continuing internal education for all employees, all foremen are 30-hour OSHA certified.  The entire field crew is first responder certified.

Safety Days covers safety policies and procedures, like the importance of personal protective equipment, maintaining equipment safely, site safety plans and hazard identification.

Hagen Harker, President of Mid-States Concrete Industries, acknowledged the dedication to safety Mid-States’ employees show.

“What you do to build buildings is incredible,” Hagen told the crew.

He acknowledged that even when employees find themselves at a challenging job site, they still focus on not just getting the job done, but getting the job done safely.

“I don’t take for granted what you do out there every day,” Hagen told the team.

He also commented that every day employees are out on a job site, they have an opportunity to build a world-class building.

“Everything you do out there is a reflection on us,” Hagen said.  “Be world-class.  I know you know how to do it.”

Find us on Mortarr

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We are now on Mortarr: an imagery driven and search-based website that serves as an inspiration gallery, networking and promotional tool for professionals, brands and general users in the commercial construction and design industry.

Check out our profile and Project Galleries by creating your own Mortarr account for free. You can also collaborate on projects in Mortarr’s virtual Design Rooms.

Think of it as a combination of Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Build Green With CarbonCast

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In an era where "going green" has become a way of life, precast concrete manufacturers have a unique opportunity and obligation to participate in the sustainability movement.

Due to the inherent sustainable qualities of precast concrete, the material lends itself well to green building practices, according to PCI.  For example, as school districts search for ways to manage costs, one such way to do that is through building (or adding on to an existing structure) with CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels.

As a PCI-Certified Plant, Mid-States Concrete Industries creates these panels with highly-trained personnel, in a controlled environment, with little waste and under strict quality control measures.

Once created, these panels can be erected quickly on a jobsite, providing minimal disruption to the site - meaning it can be done while school is still in session - and reducing the amount of energy and waste generated during installation.

Sustainability doesn't just stop once the panels have been installed though.  Perhaps one of the most beneficial things about precast is the long term reduction in energy costs.  CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels can provide projectable energy savings over the life of a school building, according to a Technical Brief issued by AltusGroup, a group which Mid-States is a member.

The use of C-GRID connectors in these panels provides thermal efficiency with edge-to-edge and top-to-bottom insulation, as well as thermal mass.  Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb, store and later release significant amounts of heat, providing the opportunity to lower the average operating level to heat or cool a building.  This, in turn, lowers the building's energy costs.

Plus, if Mid-States is brought on to the project early enough, we can also help you explore ways to lessen your investment in HVAC equipment.  After all, who knows more about how energy efficient our products are than us?

Mid-States also offers a variety of finishes on our Wall Panels, and oftentimes the walls can be left exposed and/or painted on the interior.

Precast and the Speed of Construction

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Although not a typical four-letter word, "time" can quickly become one on a construction project.

However, high performance precast concrete can help maintain a project schedule through speed in design, construction and finishing processes.

Working with a precaster early in the design process can help the designer chose the most efficient pieces to cast, saving both time and money.  The repetitive nature of precast panels allows design work to move quickly to the shop drawing stage.

Once designs are approved, the precast pieces can be cast in the plant, under factory-controlled settings, while the construction site is being prepared.  Because these pieces are created in the plant, weather is not a concern.  Additionally, the engineering and manufacturing precision produces exact dimensions, nearly eliminating the need for field adjustments.  Electrical conduit can even be embedded in the panels at casting.

Once produced, precast can be scheduled and delivered to a construction site based on need.  Components can be installed quickly, oftentimes shortening a schedule by weeks or even months.  As an example, Humbucker Apartments, a 9-story total precast apartment building in Madison, Wisc., was erected in just 12 weeks in the middle of winter.

The panelized system of precast minimizes piece counts and allows for quick erection, allowing faster access to the interior of the building.  Since insulated sandwich wall panels boast continuous insulation, there is no need for spray foam or installation of batts after erection.  Plus, precast generally provides fire ratings above those required, eliminating the need to add fire retardant after erection.

To speed things along even more, choose a panel that can be left unfinished or painted on the interior.  This will save time by eliminating the added step of drywalling or finishing the walls on the inside.

At Mid-States Concrete Industries, we know you are on a tight deadline, with lots of people counting on you.  Don't let "time" become a four-letter word on your project.  Contact Mid-States today!  The earlier you bring us in, the more help - and savings - we can provide.

New Year, New Opportunities, New Goals

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On New Year’s Day, I like to take some time to unwrap my calendar for the new year, check out all the photos (usually dogs doing silly things), and then fill it in with all of the important things to remember throughout the year.

Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, due dates, vacations, business trips, annual macaroni and cheese competitions (wait, everyone doesn’t do this?), graduations and more are all inked into the year’s plan. It is amazing how many wonderful things we have to anticipate each year, and then there is the anticipation of not yet knowing what might fill up the rest of your calendar for the year. Will you receive an unexpected wedding invitation? Will Nsync finally schedule a reunion tour? Will you have the opportunity to take a trip for work?

And what about resolutions? Are New Year’s resolutions something you make? There’s arguments on both sides of the fence as to whether resolutions should or shouldn’t be made. For what it’s worth, here are my two cents: the new year is a perfect time to resolve to do something better, or many an improvement, or learn something new. There is something psychological about the changing of the calendar that makes it feel like I am making a fresh start. My goal is to be better every day than I was the day before. If setting a goal at the start of a new year can help someone become better than they were previously, I am all for it.

So, what resolutions will you make this year? Share in the comments below.

State-of-the-art water reclamation and aggregate recovery plant

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Mid-States Concrete’s new state-of-the-art water reclamation and aggregate recovery plant is now operational.

The new facility is an upgrade from our previous smaller system and goes above and beyond the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act.  The new facility also helps Mid-States further reduce its carbon footprint.  We are now able to reduce the amount of scrap we have by running our scrap batches through the new plant, which filters out as much reusable water as it can, while also separating the sand and aggregate from scrap batches for reuse.

“Instead of throwing it away, we are recycling it,” said Mike Wolff, vice president of safety and quality.

The new system offers the potential to not only use less water, but also to batch concrete with a certain amount of reclaimed water, said Fred Bradley, maintenance and facility continuous improvement manager.

The building itself is a shining example of what precast can do.  Mid-States cast all the hollowcore and wall panels for the new facility here on site, with our own team members.  Our field crew erected the entire building.

It was also the first time our team utilized graphic concrete.  As you can see in the picture above, our company logo is cast right in to the concrete of nine wall panels.  Graphic concrete enables durable patterns and images to be produced on precast surfaces through the use of a membrane with a surface retarder.  Concrete is cast on the membrane and when the retarder is washed away, the image is revealed.

The new addition also provides for more production and maintenance space.  Previously, equipment was stored in the same area as our maintenance team was stationed.  Now, maintenance has its own dedicated space at the end of the production hall, and there is plenty of room to both clean and store equipment, according to Bradley.

With some additional training for our team, the new facility should also increase safety.  An end loader driver will no longer have to clean the pit, as everything is done automatically with the push of a button.

A few kinks are still being worked out, but Bradley is confident Mid-States will be able to utilize the water reclamation and aggregate recovery plant full time in the new year.

The Value of Indoor Parking

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Have you ever hit the snooze button one too many times or just woke up a little later than planned? You spend the morning running around getting everything ready for work and trying to decide if you have time to make coffee or swing through a drive thru on you way into the office. After realizing you are out of coffee filters anyway, the drive thru it is. Then, you get out to your car and it is freezing, so now you have to scrape the heavy frost off of the windshield. Because you are in a hurry, you go with the great driving style of leaning way down to view your path through the small part of the windshield that is actually staying defrosted. And because of all of this, you no longer have time to stop and grab a cup of coffee. It is going to be a LONG morning! This is the reality for many renters during the winter months.

Indoor parking for tenants has several obvious advantages. A few of them are:

  • Security

  • Vehicle wear and tear

  • Convenience

  • Protection from the elements

One of the greatest advantages and sells of apartment garage parking is the added security. If you live in an apartment with only an open parking lot or parking on the street, you leave yourself and your vehicle far more exposed. This may not be much of a concern in a generally crime-free neighborhood and may not prove worth the additional cost, but it can prove quite an advantage in an area that’s more prone to nighttime prowlers. Plus, you won’t have to be as worried about walking alone to your building, or remember not to leave anything valuable in your car for fear of attracting thieves.

These types of parking options also help the building owner to have a more successful property, allowing owners to charge a higher rent. These properties also oftentimes average a higher occupancy rate. Underground/indoor parking is common for multi-family residential, mixed use and senior living facilities. Especially in the Midwest, people want the convenience of a climate-controlled parking area.

In a senior living community, under-structure parking is often a desirable amenity. It can provide a sense of security to tenants, protection from inclement weather (which is especially important to residents that might be more susceptible to falls), as well as offer some storage space.

In working on various projects in cities all over Southern Wisconsin, Northern Illinois and Eastern Iowa, we have come to understand just how imperative the right parking offerings are to a project.

Indoor parking provides solutions to several potential issues and concerns. It also helps projects be more successful for owners. We are here to help. If you have any questions, or want to speak about an upcoming project, please email sales@msprecast.com.

Stay warm!

Proud Partner of Hononegah High School

Our mission is to build meaningful buildings in which to live, work and play.  These are not just words to us, but an opportunity to impact people in an amazing way.  We are extremely grateful to have been part of building the Hononegah Community High School field house.

The new field house and ticket booths include 188 insulated precast wall panels, created at our plant in South Beloit, less than five miles from the high school.

The new building will replace the dome, which collapsed during a winter storm in 2015.  As of now, the field house is expected to be completed by March.  Wall panels, which feature a thin-brick design to match the existing building, were installed in June.

Mid-States Concrete has 42 families that reside in Hononegah Community High School District 207.

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The Mid-States team donated two custom-etched Hononegah Indian heads which are featured in the school’s new monument, located on the south side of the field house near the ticket booths.  The monument was unveiled at a ceremony on Monday, Nov. 19.

“The community is proud of Hononegah and the whole idea of having something like this really gives us the opportunity to show off,” said School Board President David Kurlinkus.

The Indian heads were created using Graphic Concrete.  Graphic Concrete enables durable patterns and images to be produced on precast surfaces through the use of a membrane with a surface retarder.  Concrete is cast on the membrane and when the retarder is washed away, the image is revealed.

“There’s a lot that goes in to putting a project like this together and so today was just an opportunity to say thank you and we look forward to watching the kids play ball here and grow,” said Hagen Harker, president of Mid-States Concrete.

What are you thankful for?

With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, it is a great opportunity to take a moment and consider all the things we have to give thanks and be grateful for.

Last year, I was first and foremost grateful for the baby having a dance party in my womb. This year, I am first and foremost grateful for the sweet baby boy who is now here, crawling all over the place, starting to pull himself up on things, and getting into everything he isn’t supposed to. His favorite thing is laughing at me when I tell him “no.” I’m using my stern voice, I swear!

I am thankful for the additions to my family within the past year, and thankful for the additions with quickly approaching due dates. I’m grateful that despite a few health scares this year, my family is all here to celebrate another holiday together.

I am especially thankful for all the help I received with my newborn son. It truly takes a village, especially when the new villager has colic! Thank God he outgrew that and is just the sweetest, happiest little boy you will ever meet (not that I am biased or anything!).

I’m grateful for friends, who despite the miles between us, still manage to play a large role in each other’s lives. Even with our growing families, we still find the time to pick up the phone regularly and see each other as often as we can. I wouldn’t trade my SQUAD for anything.

I am thankful to be part of the Mid-States team. This team is made up of some truly amazing individuals, individuals that I feel lucky to know and work with. It continues to be wonderful to work for a company that truly cares about its team members, and invests in them. And despite how they can drive me crazy sometimes, I really do enjoy the people that I work with every day. They are all just a a little bit weird!

Finally, I am thankful to know that I have so much to look forward to in the coming year. It will be as good as I make it, and I am aiming for GREAT! I have been truly blessed.

Now it’s your turn. What do you want to give thanks for? What are you grateful for? Share in the comments below.

Happy Thanksgiving! In recognition of the holiday, Mid-States will be closed on Thursday, November 22 and Friday, November 23. May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends, and plenty of delicious food!