By Sarah Jean Maher
Remaining at the forefront of the Illinois ready-mix concrete industry may seem like a challenge, but Elston Materials’s leaders believe their business stands out from other similar companies for a number of reasons.
What makes the family-owned concrete manufacturing company special? According to Alex and Lenny Puig, it comes down to flexibility, speedy service, top equipment, and having a niche.
“We serve a niche of smaller jobs,” said Alex. “We’re not limited to small jobs, but we serve this niche that is made up of sewer guys, water contractors, and plumbers.”
Elston’s projects consist mostly of residential jobs, such as driveway and sidewalk work. Alex said their smaller job niche is working well for them, since a lot of the bigger companies don’t want to do the smaller jobs.
“The key with our niche is that we have the ability to do multiple stops with one truck. Since we’re able to pour fresh, mobile concrete on site, we’re not limited by time,” said Alex.
“The traditional barrel mixers will have to get rid of the load in 25 minutes to an hour or so. Essentially, we’re great for multiple stops and fresh concrete.”
Located near downtown Chicago, the Elston teams manufactures normal, medium, light weight, and split face concrete. The convenient location allows for quick delivery or pickup all over the city.
“Usually we’re able to deliver concrete either the same day as the order, or the next day, depending on how busy we are, but most of the time if you place an order, and you call us in the morning, usually we’ll be able to deliver it,” said Alex.
Because their fresh concrete is mixed on site, customers only pay for what they use. This works well for smaller contractors who aren’t always exactly sure about calculations, explained Lenny, vice-president of Elston Materials. If contractors require more concrete than what had been requested, they’ll normally have extra concrete on the truck that they can supply. This helps reduce waste; another feat the team is proud of.
Flexibility is another trait that sets them apart. They are able to change the mix designs on the spot if needed, which, again, helps keep their waste to a minimum.
“You don’t have to be that accurate when you order because you can actually make more or less concrete right there on the site,” explained Lenny.
“Our trucks carry up to nine yards of concrete, so we can deliver a range from one to nine yards in each truck.”
Being able to pour concrete onsite means the company isn’t limited, and can handle any kind of pour. Alex and Lenny think of their trucks as “travelling plants” since they can be loaded up on the plant with dry material, and then mixed with water at the actual job site. This is where the concrete’s “hydration process” starts.
The trucks act as hydraulically controlled concrete chutes that can reach up to 18 feet. Customers appreciate that their drivers are able to control the chute and move it around for them, resulting in less work for the concrete crew who will eventually place the concrete.
Another plus for the company is the minimal clean out, since the company works with chutes, rather than large barrel mixers.
From a sustainability standpoint, both brothers tout the fact that their trucks can be refilled on a job site if necessary, which saves them a lot of travel time.
“Instead of ordering five or six trucks on a job site, where you’re putting all that ignition into the air, our truck can just stay onsite,” said Alex. “There’s less travel, less fuel, and less ignition involved in the process.”
Elston also prides itself on top-of-the-line equipment trucks that they like to keep as clean as possible since they “act as travelling billboards”.
“We like to look professional. We don’t like to see our trucks going down the street looking all dirty and sloppy – I think that says something about your company. We like to keep them clean and in good working order,” said Lenny.
The quality of materials is tested regularly both in-house and independently. Excellence in their processes is one of the team’s core values, along with remaining customer-friendly and customer-orientated. The company wants repeat customers, and reminds their concrete drivers regularly that they are the “number one salesmen out there.”
“It simple: if the crew likes them, they’ll keep ordering from us,” said Alex.