Working around the Bakken Shale, Wells Concrete is experiencing its biggest year ever, according to President and CEO Dan Juntunen. And while the level of development in this area is significant, Juntunen believes much of the business that is coming to Wells Concrete is the result of the company’s core strengths: customer responsiveness, quality, production capacity and flexibility, and the fact that Wells uses its own fleet of cranes and installation crews.
“We are the only precaster in this area with this level of capability,” he says. “Prestress as a building material is gaining more popularity in construction and boosting our business because of its aesthetics, quality and energy efficiency; and it provides designers a great deal of design flexibility. In addition to our three manufacturing plants, we maintain our own fleet of cranes and installation crews and manage the shipping of our products to the project site.”
Wells Concrete serves clients throughout the Midwest from three locations – Grand Forks, N.D.; and Albany and Wells, Minn. – which give it a proximity to its workforce and materials, and enables efficient delivery.
“With three facilities, we focus a lot on best practices and standardization among all of the plants,” Juntunen says.
A Quality Identity
Juntunen estimates that 75 percent of the work from Wells’ North Dakota plant in the past year went to the oilfield. That includes a hospital for Trinity Health, commercial structures for Baker Hughes and Sunwell Service, an industrial building for Dakota Manufacturing, a school in Dickinson, N.D., and several water treatment plants. Juntunen stresses Wells Concrete offers one of the most comprehensive lineups of products in the industry – hollow core, structural components and architectural precast – and notes that much of its current volume is the result of its consistent focus throughout the recent recession.
“We made a concerted effort to stay focused on what we knew we did best in our focus on our clients,” he says. “Even though the market was slow, we didn’t scale back our services or our follow-up efforts. I have done 15-20 job site visits in the past year, and in every single instance, whenever there was a glitch, our crews did everything to make it right. Our services and quality are consistent, regardless of market pressures; that keeps clients returning and attracts new business to us.”
Wells Concrete is supported by a sturdy knowledge base, he says, so throughout the recession the company worked hard to protect its people who possess its skills and experience. It also recently created a new position – the vice president of quality – who oversees the quality-control managers at all of the plants. Juntunen explains that this new structure has been working well and has underscored the company’s dedication to quality. He works closely with that team, but if the quality control managers or vice president don’t agree with a decision he has made, they are free to go straight to the board to discuss the issue.
“As our projects have gotten larger our company size has increased, and sometimes we have to produce components at different plants to meet our clients’ needs. We now have the ability and capacity to do that,” Juntunen says. “With that, quality is critically important because all of the components have to be consistent. Additionally, our employees have the power to stop the process at any time with no ramifications if they see any issues. It doesn’t matter what stage – drawing, design, production, in the field – they have the power to send something back to be made again.
“The identity we’re trying to establish for ourselves is that we provide quality products in a safe environment for our employees,” he stresses. “Everything else we do is secondary to that. We want our customers to get exactly what they bought while keeping our employees safe.” EMI