Precast and the Speed of Construction


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


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

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.


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!

Thermal Efficiency Saves Money

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Thermal Efficiency of CarbonCast®
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 42 percent of energy consumed in a building is ultimately lost through the building envelope, or the barrier between the building interior and outdoor environment.  A significant portion of any commercial envelope is the exterior wall.

The building envelope is critical in regulating internal building temperatures and determining how much energy is required to heat or cool a structure for occupant comfort.  Heat transfer through envelope components such as walls wastes energy.  Thermally efficient exterior wall systems aim to mitigate heat transfer and energy loss.  They are engineered to minimize the opportunities for heat to flow from the interior surface through the wall to the building’s exterior.

The role of wythe connectors
In insulated precast concrete wall panels, wythe connectors act as a mechanical connection between the inner and outer layers of concrete.  Because they form a connection through the insulation, there is an opportunity for thermal bridging to occur as well.  Traditional wythe connection options such as solid zones of concrete or metal connectors – while providing a reliable mechanical connection – permit heat transfer between the wall because of the materials inherent conductivity.

What is important is designing a performance specification on the overall wall system rather than just the connector alone.  A specification based on the overall wall system is on of the best ways of ensuring that the enclosure will meet the owner’s standards.

The role of insulation
Insulation helps to prevent the flow of heat across the exterior envelope.  The use of continuous insulation further stems the flow by eliminating the presence of building materials that could facilitate thermal transfer.

Continuous insulation is defined in ASHRAE 90.1 as “insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings.  It is installed on the interior or exterior or is integral to any opaque surface of the building envelope.”

The thermal performance of edge-to-edge insulated precast sandwich wall panels with no or minimal thermal bridges and no solid zones maintains the R-values for continuous insulation as defined in ASHRAE 90.1, thereby lowering energy costs for the owner and occupant.

~ Courtesy of AltusGroup

Design Assist Impacts Project Delivery


In recent years, a trend toward early integration of the design/build process has developed into what is now called design assist.

In this process, the precast concrete producer is selected based on qualifications for executing the demands of the specific project, PCI Certification, and the capability for technical expertise to assist the design and construction team in the development of the project. A contract is then awarded and should, at a minimum, include compensation for the design assistance. Significant benefits can be achieved if the contract also includes the supply and installation of the final products.

Benefits of design assist include development of concrete mixtures and finishes during the development process rather than going through a sample approval process after bid and award. Requests for information are eliminated with the precast supplier as a participating member of the design team. Precast erection drawings are prepared as design development nears completion, leading to a much smoother shop drawing review process. The structural design of the precast panel connections are completed in collaboration with the Engineer of Record to assure coordination with the design of the supporting and bracing structural system. The construction schedule is coordinated with the precast production schedule to assure timely delivery and installation. Any activity that normally occurs after award in a typical bid/build arrangement would be coordinated much earlier when the total precast contract is executed shortly after the design and construction team is assembled.

Precasters can offer detailed expertise that allows for expedited development of the design with engineering innovations and scheduling improvements while enhancing aesthetics and controlling budgets from conceptual design to project completion. Each element can be made as cost-effective as possible, taking advantage of the inherent performance characteristics of precast concrete. The precaster will be able to contribute design and detailing suggestions to ensure that maximum efficiency is achieved at the lowest erected cost. The result should be a functionally efficient and aesthetically pleasing enclosure that meets or exceeds the expectations for the project. Finally, the precaster should be considered as a partner on the design team. This will impose a responsibility on the precaster to understand related construction materials that must interface with the precast concrete so details appropriate to all the materials can be developed.

- Information courtesy of PCI

CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels


Precast wall systems that are lighter, better insulating and more sustainable

You can design and build with lighter, continuously insulated, truly sustainable, and more energy-efficient precast wall panels using CarbonCast technology.

CarbonCast Enclosure Systems use advanced technology to improve precast concrete by integrating ultra-strong, non-corrosive C-GRID into wall panels during fabrication. By taking the place of steel reinforcement, C-GRID provides a multitude of benefits that makes factory-made precast concrete an even more intelligent choice for building envelopes.

Depending on design, CarbonCast panels are priced competitively with other curtainwall systems, such as brick-veneered, masonry, stud walls, or concrete. And after factoring in reductions to superstructure requirements and potential HVAC system and operating savings, CarbonCast enclosure systems can help pay for themselves immediately.

Benefits of CarbonCast Enclosure Systems

  • Full composite action for load bearing performance

  • Continuous insulation to meet ASHRAE requirements

  • Aesthetic versatility


  • Multi-family

  • Commercial

  • Industrial

  • Education

  • Hospitality

  • Student living

  • Healthcare

  • Institutional

Energy Efficient and Lighter in Weight


The exceptional bonding and strength of C-GRID trusses allow AltusGroup precasters to use less concrete and more insulating foam to reduce energy use and create lighter panels. They deliver superior insulation values for enhanced thermal efficiency and reduced energy expenditures.

Superior at Load Bearing

Vertical panels are available for both load bearing and non-structural applications. They can eliminate the need for perimeter columns and add to usable floor space.

Dry, Mold-Free and Non-Combustible

Unlike brick and block insulated cavity walls or brick with steel studs, concrete does not allow water to penetrate, eliminating the need for a rain screen design. CarbonCast panels have no voids or cavities where air or water can combine to support mold and mildew growth. When properly designed, they virtually eliminate the possibility for in-wall condensation. And the inherent fire resistance of concrete provides additional peace of mind.

Ideal for Occupant Comfort

CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels provide an acoustic isolating environment. Very little sound is transmitted through the walls, which can provide an interior free of exterior noise. And the lack of cold spots provides a more comfortable environment.

Pre-Finished on the Inside Wall

These panels can have a troweled interior finish to eliminate the cost and time to install drywall or other surfaces. They are ready for paint or wall covering and are ultra-durable.

We are very excited about this innovative system and how it is changing the built environment for the better.

Find more information about CarbonCast here.