Bestway Concrete & Aggregates

EXCEPTIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE IS THE GOAL FOR THIS MILLIKEN, COLO.-BASED READY-MIX FIRM

Dec 12, 2012

Komatsu and Power Motive — a winning combination

Bestway Concrete & Aggregates is one of the leading ready-mix companies in Colorado and is the largest locally owned, ready-mix supplier in the Denver area. Headquartered in Milliken, the company has experienced significant growth since its founding in the 1970s.

“As late as 1992, when ownership changed hands, the company consisted of one run-down plant near Greeley and half a dozen or so old trucks,” noted President Gene Wagner. “Today, we have seven operational ready-mix plants and two other locations that we can bring on line when we need them. We also operate two quarries and five sand and gravel pits for Hall-Irwin Aggregates, and we use virtually all of the material from those pits and quarries ourselves at our own plants.

“At one time, we were solely a northern- Colorado supplier,” Wagner added. “In building or acquiring new locations, the goal was always to improve our ability to serve customers throughout the Denver area and beyond. Today, we go from near the Wyoming border to Castle Rock, and from Fort Morgan to Idaho Springs. That obviously includes all of metro Denver, which was my priority when I became President in 2002.”

Product from Bestway Concrete is often used by large commercial builders for hospitals, schools, office buildings, big-box stores and apartments. Bestway supplied concrete for construction of the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in downtown Denver, which is set to open next year. The company also does municipal and CDOT work, including supplying all the paving concrete for the ongoing Highway 392 and I-25 interchange improvement project.

Specialty products and on-time delivery

It’s one thing to have the locations that enable companies to supply customers in a large area. It’s quite another to have the commitment to do it better than anybody else.

“We have a topnotch quality-control department and we make some specialty products and mixes that our competitors often can’t do or won’t try,” said Wagner. “But when it comes to making basic concrete for driveways, sidewalks and foundations, frankly, some competitors are probably as good at that as we are. Where Bestway differentiates itself from the competition is in the way it takes care of the customer.

“Service is our calling card and a big part of service means getting to the job on time, which we do routinely,” Wagner explained. “We even turn down work if we think there’s a chance that it’s going to overextend us — and that’s almost unheard of in this business. We’re not perfect, but perfection is our goal. And on the rare occasion we are going to be late with a delivery, we call ahead to give the customer a heads up, which they appreciate because it allows them to put their men to work somewhere else during that time.”

A companywide commitment

Wagner learned the importance of on-time delivery and topnotch service while working for a large, national, heavy-highway firm throughout the 1980s.

“As a manager, nothing was worse than sitting there watching a bunch of hard hats rest on their shovels waiting for a mixer truck that was supposed to already be there. Every tick of the clock is cash running down the drain. So I learned the importance of service and on-time deliveries from the customer’s point-of-view. That’s why at Bestway, we go out of our way to respect our customers’ time and to treat them like a partner.”

Of course, in a company with more than 100 trucks and 300-plus employees, the president alone cannot ensure that every load arrives on time. But Wagner says Bestway employees have bought into the idea that the company is a cut above, and he says everybody’s on the same page regarding the importance of unmatched customer service.

“Everyone who works here — our managers, drivers, pit and quarry operators — understands this is what separates us from the other guys. We have very good employees who take great pride in what they do and how they do it. All of our employees see us as service providers, not just concrete suppliers.”

In addition to Wagner, key personnel at Bestway include Fleet/Logistics Manager Steve Hixson, Quality Control Manager Dan Bentz, Sales Manager Robb Vanderschaaff, North Production Manager Tim Hughey, South Production Manager Myron Moorhead and Operations Manager Jim Adkisson.

Komatsu and Power Motive — a winning combination

Bestway Concrete uses Komatsu equipment from Power Motive almost exclusively to run its plants and pits. The company has 18 Komatsu wheel loaders, including five WA500s and five WA470s, all purchased within the past year. The company also has a new PC450LC-8 excavator, an HM300 articulated haul truck and two new Komatsu dozers (D155 and D65).

“In my previous position, I had quite a bit of experience with another brand of equipment, but when I saw the kind of hours that were on some of these Komatsu loaders, I was blown away,” said Wagner. “We made a big purchase of 14 new machines this year. We brought in other brands and demo’d them against the Komatsus, then I talked to our operators. Almost to a man, they wanted Komatsu. They like the power, the productivity and the fact that Komatsu machines are comfortable and operator-friendly.”

“I think Komatsu equipment is very good, but over time, all machines are going to need service,” said Fleet Manager Steve Hixson. “What’s important to me is how the dealer supports the iron, and Power Motive supports Komatsu very well. If we call for service, they get here fast. Sales Rep Jeremy Griebel and Milliken Branch Manager Gary Klipp, along with everybody else at Power Motive, are always willing to step up to the plate and work with us to solve any problems. They partner with us the way we try to partner with our customers.”

In addition to using Power Motive technicians for repair work, Bestway has them handle routine maintenance and service as work.

“Our job is to make concrete, not service and repair equipment — Power Motive can do that better than we can,” said Hixson. “We’ve turned maintenance and service work over to them, so they regularly inspect the machines, identify possible failures and make repairs, and handle preventive maintenance, which helps us minimize repair costs and maximize uptime.

“I’m also a fan of Komatsu’s KOMTRAX machine-monitoring system,” he added. “Of course, it came standard on our new units, but we also had Power Motive put it on our older Komatsus, as well as our one non-Komatsu dozer. It’s an excellent information-gathering system that’s great for preventive maintenance purposes. I’m also learning more all the time about how to use it to help us improve our owning and operating costs.”

Poised for future success

Like many construction-related businesses, Bestway has felt the recession and subsequent economic slowdown. The company downsized its mixer-truck fleet by more than 30 percent four or five years ago.

“Because of the economy, we had to draw back a little bit,” acknowledged Wagner. “And frankly, the timing wasn’t the best for our last plant acquisition about a year and a half ago. But it was so important to our long-term growth strategy, I felt I couldn’t pass on it. It gave us a presence in southern Denver and completes our capability to serve the entire Denver market and beyond, so we’re going to need it for the future.”

Despite challenges, Wagner says he believes Bestway Concrete’s future is bright.

“We’re kind of bumping along right now. Things are a little better than they were but not where we want them to be. I’m still optimistic that we’re going to have a big upturn in the next year or so. And when that happens, I believe we’re very well-positioned to ramp up and respond quickly to our customers’ needs.

“As for future growth, we’re always on the lookout for opportunities to expand. We’re also fully committed to doing whatever it takes to serve our customers better. As long as we continue to prove to customers day-in and day-out that we’re not just a vendor but that we’re also their partner and are truly interested in their jobs and their successes, I’m confident we’ll do well in the years to come.”