Concrete Products

FEB 2017

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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60 • February 2017 Many precast concrete producers have sur- vived hard economic times and today's competitive marketplace through diversi- fication. Adding product lines or adopting new production processes has helped sculpt these companies into principal sources for all things precast. But when a producer is already well diversified, what else can it do to stay ahead of the competition? "Concentrate on doing what we do better," affirms Greg Stratis, president of Shea Concrete Products, Wilm- ington, Mass. This business strategy of focusing on how to simply make precast better is what Stratis has concentrated on over the last few years. It's also a strategy he has brought to his one-year term as the National Pre- cast Concrete Association Chairman of the Board, determined to help market precast as the best option for contractors, engineers and designers. "I didn't start getting involved with NPCA to change how the association is run," says Stratis. "I was more eager to help peo- ple with solving problems and figuring out ideas on how to make precast better. I'm more about trying to help improve what is already being done." JOURNEY TO THE TOP Stratis had no knowledge about precast before working at Shea Concrete. He had a job as an electrical engineer at defense con- tractor Raytheon when his father-in-law, Ed Shea, asked him to come work for the family business. Shea along with his wife, Judi, are the company's second-generation owners. Their offer came with a condition, though. "If you come work for me," Ed Shea told his son-in-law, "just so you know, you'll start from the ground up." With his career at Raytheon about to change, Stratis decided to give precast a try before accepting a "suit and tie job." He broke the news at the family Thanksgiving gathering that year, much to his father-in- law's surprise. His first role at Shea Concrete involved working in the production depart- ment triple pouring 4-ft. manholes. Stratis' responsibility was to climb into the man- hole, pull out the pins, unlatch the form and climb out. Until this experience, it never dawned on him how hot concrete could get. "When you climbed into it (the man- hole), it was like getting into an oven," Stratis recalls. "Everything is rusty and kind of slimy. I'd get out of the manhole and be filthy, head to toe, with wet rust all over." He remembers that due to the large amount of work one day, Shea Concrete Gener- al Manager Bob Flores was also out in the plant helping pour product and stripping forms to keep the production schedule on time. Stra- tis watched as Flores did the same thing— climb into the manhole, remove the pins and climb out. There was one big difference: The boss climbed out "clean as a whistle." "I don't know if he was more experi- enced at it or more careful, but it was funny seeing me come out covered and Bob came out looking just fine," Stratis chuckles. "I always joke about that to everyone. That's probably my first memory of working pro- duction at Shea." Stratis has now worked in every Shea Concrete department or key function except for truck driving. From product design to installation, he understands the expecta- tions and responsibilities of each step of the process. This has proved to be essential for him: Although he didn't know it while learning the ropes, he would eventually be responsible for the entire company. His management role began in 1999 when Shea Concrete purchased a competi- tor's plant in Amesbury, Mass., and appoint- ed Stratis to oversee the satellite's opera- tions. And last year, Ed Shea returned the Thanksgiving day surprise of 20 years ago by naming his son-in-law president of the company. Stratis said his leadership tactics are slightly different from those of Ed and Judi Shea, but that he still values the lessons he learned from them about running a success- ful business. One thing Ed Shea did well was work hard to earn the respect of customers and employees. Stratis learned how to deal with people by watching his business and personal interactions. Another tactic that he would like to incorporate is his father-in-law's deci- sion-making execution. "If he made a deci- sion, it got done right away," notes Stratis. "There was no waiting, planning or think- ing. On the other hand, I like to take an idea and twist it, turn it and analyze it. He was one extreme and I'm the other. So, I think incorporating a little bit of both would be nice." Continued on page 62 CHAIRMAN'S REPORT BY SARA GEER BUILDING ON SUCCESS Greg Stratis is 2016-2017 National Precast Concrete Association Chairman Greg Stratis

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