2015-2016 Chairman Andy Wieser will rely on hard work and staying one step ahead to move NPCA into the future
“Work smarter, not harder.” Anyone who manufactures precast concrete will tell you hard work is essential to success. It’s the driving force behind making a quality product and the reason why the industry has excelled. Andy Wieser, president of Maiden Rock, Wis.-based Wieser Concrete Products, learned the importance of hard work at a young age from his parents, Joe and Mary Wieser. But Joe taught his son something else: Think one step ahead of your actions and your work will be easier.
Andy Wieser will apply this mindset to his term as chairman of the board of the National Precast Concrete Association. In doing so, he will not only build on the solid foundation set by his predecessors in the organization’s first half-century of work, but also ensure the precast concrete industry remains ahead of the game amidst an ever-evolving construction landscape.
TAKING IT ALL IN
Growing up, Wieser and his brothers Mark and Dan Wieser lived just 19 feet from the edge of the precast plant their father established in 1965. For the boys, this meant the family business was a part of everyday life. It also provided ample opportunity for getting into trouble.
When he was eight years old, one of the production workers at the plant asked Andy Wieser to move a forklift that was blocking a door. Eager to assist, he agreed. After jumping in and starting the engine, he figured out how to put the forklift in reverse. But before he could get too far, his father came around the corner.
“What are you doing?” Joe asked.
“Well, he needed it moved,” Wieser replied. “I’m just moving it.”
“Okay,” Joe said, allowing his son to carry on.
Even though he didn’t realize it at the time, this was just one of many learning opportunities the family business offered. Because Wieser Concrete was so closely intertwined with the family, he was constantly taking in new information. “I learned a lot just by being around the business and absorbing things,” he says. “I got a lot of first-hand knowledge that way.”
By the time Wieser entered high school, he had decided his goal was to work full-time for the family business after graduation. He got right to work, assisting the installation crew, contributing to dry cast production and holding a variety of other responsibilities before earning his first management position as a dispatcher when he was 20 years old.
Although the work was difficult, Wieser kept his parents’ advice in mind, putting everything he had into earning the respect of those around him. “The first year was tough because I didn’t know a lot,” he recalls. “Overall, though, it went pretty well and I started to prove myself. Showing everyone you’re not afraid to work is one of the biggest things dad taught us. That carries over and people start to trust you.”
With the trust and respect of his employees in hand, Wieser moved into project and operations management positions before ultimately taking over as president when Joe retired in 1999.
GROWING, GROWING, GROWING
For nearly two decades, he has helped the company continue to expand, focusing on forward-thinking strategies that have resulted in Wieser Concrete achieving its most successful years in 2014 and 2015. That level of performance has been made possible by consistently improving facilities and equipment as well as diversifying product lines.
Although he attributes much of the company’s success to the foundation his parents built, he is keen to the fact that Wieser Concrete benefits tremendously from its high-quality employees, noting: “Without all of our great people, there’s no way we could do what we’re doing today. We’ve got some long-term people that have had a huge impact. They deserve as much credit as anyone.”
In a similar way, Wieser has relied on the networking opportunities and knowledge made available to him through NPCA membership to grow Wieser Concrete. He recalls feeling the camaraderie of the association and like he was “part of the group” even as a kid. That feeling of inclusion—along with a little push from his father—led Wieser to become involved with several NPCA committees. He joined the Plant Certification Committee as it was working toward establishing a nationwide program.
“That committee was really active,” notes Wieser. “As I got involved and met more people, I gained tremendous knowledge from all of the relationships that developed.”
Recognizing the many benefits of committee work and giving back to the industry, he served an initial term on the board of directors from 2003 to 2005 before serving a second term beginning in 2011. The latter culminated in his late-October 2015 appointment as chairman of the board during the NPCA 50th Annual Convention in Minneapolis.
“After I got back on the board, I felt that it was time for me to step up and give back to the association I had received so much from over the years,” he affirms.
|Wieser Concrete tanks bearing Bio-Microbics wastewater treatment systems conserve prime lakefront property at a Saginaw, Minn., development. In the first phase of a wastewater treatment infrastructure plan serving 32 homes, the producer delivered three individual tanks—12,000-gal. equalization, 5,000-gal. drain field dosing, 2,500-gal. dosing—plus one 9,100-gal. and five 5,000-gal. Bio-Microbics system structures.|
THE MORE YOU GIVE …
Andy Wieser’s goals for his term as chairman are straightforward: Support precasters in manufacturing high-quality materials; position companies to sell more product; and, offer additional benefits to NPCA members. Just like he learned from his father, achieving success is all about working smarter, which is exactly why he seeks to put the association in a position for success both now and in the future.
One of the new changes Wieser is excited about is NPCA’s partnership with the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute. The two organizations will come together at The Precast Show for the first time in 2016, further expanding the reach and utility of what was already the largest annual trade show in the precast industry. With all of the industry’s major players under one roof, members of both organizations should see increased benefit from the additional networking opportunities and education.
Wieser also hopes to work closely with PCI on plant certification, bringing the programs of both organizations closer together. “The more we can do to unify our certification programs, the more benefit we will have for the entire industry and to the specifying communities,” he observes. “We’ll also have less confusion in the marketplace.”
Another one of his goals for the NPCA Plant Certification program is getting all 50 states involved. Doing so will help ensure members obtain more work while the aging U.S. infrastructure system is upgraded with precast products. Beyond certification and NPCA’s relationship with PCI, Wieser will continue to seek non-traditional educational programming opportunities for members. Though he recognizes the benefits of classroom education, he also sees plenty of untapped potential in interactions outside of coursework.
“When we say education, we always think of the classes, which are very important,” he says. “But education through networking and plant tours is just as important. I have never underestimated what can be learned just from talking to and being around other precasters.”
Wieser will stress this concept to members to ensure they understand the many advantages of networking and being involved with NPCA. “Once you get involved, the more you give, you get 100-fold back,” he contends. “For us, if I didn’t have the relationships that I have and the knowledge I’ve gained from being involved, I don’t know where we would be today with our company.”
From the moment Wieser first shifted a forklift into gear, he has had a drive to broaden his skill set while simultaneously growing the family business. Armed with knowledge from his parents and the keen ability to stay one step ahead of his actions, he has been extremely successful in expanding Wieser Concrete, something that will benefit NPCA tremendously during his term.
More than anything else, Wieser seeks to have a positive impact on all NPCA members as chairman, showing both long-time members and new ones alike just how much value can be derived from membership. To get there, he recognizes NPCA may need to take some calculated risks.
“I always say, ‘If you’re not moving forward, you’re actually moving backward, because everyone else is going to pass you up,’” says Wieser. “We can’t be afraid of change. We need to embrace it and continue to move the association forward, offering even more for our members.”
Mason Nichols is National Precast Concrete Association External Communication & Marketing Manager
National Precast Concrete Association - AT-A-GLANCE
NPCA is an international trade group representing nearly 900 companies and suppliers that manufacture hundreds of precast, prestressed and reinforced concrete pipe products for underground and above-ground applications. Member companies fabricate products that create and rebuild infrastructure, protect the environment and offer modularity, customization and infinite creative design possibilities across all sectors of the construction industry. NPCA provides members with the latest technical and industry information through a host of publications, educational seminars, product committees and conferences. The association promotes high-quality standards and safety through its education component and ANSI-accredited Plant Certification program.
NPCA is located at 1320 City Center Drive, Suite 200, Carmel, IN 46032. Phone and fax numbers are: tel.: 317/571-9500 or 800/366-7731; fax: 317/571-0041; e-mail: [email protected]; website: precast.org.
Wieser Concrete Products
Maiden Rock, Wisconsin
IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN (2015)
Shea Concrete Products
Wieser Concrete Products - AT-A-GLANCE
|Flanked by sons (from left) Dan, Andy and Mark, founders Joe and Mary Wieser saw their very successful model of managing and growing a family business reach an enviable milestone last year. Alongside the 50th anniversary observance, Wieser Concrete Products completed a major expansion of its Maiden Rock, Wis., flagship plant.|
Wieser Concrete Products celebrated its 50th year of business in 2015 and continues to focus on diversifying product lines and expanding operations. The company, which began with founders Joe and Mary Wieser as the only employees, has grown over the years to include five production facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois and more than 100 employees. Wieser Concrete has shipped products throughout the U.S. as well as to parts of Canada and Mexico.
Much of the company’s success over the years has resulted from its extensive product line, which serves the agricultural, underground, highway and commercial markets. The ability to manufacture such a wide array of products powered Wieser Concrete through the recent recession and enabled a large expansion at the company’s main facility in Maiden Rock, Wis., last year.
“These market downturns don’t cripple us because of the strength of our diversified product line,” says Andy Wieser, president. “We’ve actually had consistently good years over the past decade.”
And Wieser doesn’t plan to stop there, noting how the company’s innovative spirit means always looking for new business opportunities. “One of the biggest things we try to do here is take calculated risks,” he says. “We have to continue to evolve, change, improve and try new things. If we didn’t do any of that, where would we be today?”