By BECKY GILLETTE
Jackson Ready Mixed Concrete was founded in 1945 by the Mounger, Speed and Reed families in Jackson. Descendants of those original founders still form the majority of shareholders. Three of their board members are 2nd and 3rd generation Mounger and Speed family members.
Over the decades the company expanded into other markets and acquired other companies growing to 220 trucks and 30 concrete plant locations in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Alabama.
Because the ready-mix concrete business is very local, the company initially retained the names of the acquired businesses.
“However, as relationships with larger contractors have developed and grown, the need for consistent identification of our brand across our footprint became more valuable,” said Delta Industries President and CEO Tom Evans. “Therefore, in 2018, the company consolidated all of the subsidiary companies into Delta Industries, Inc. and operates under that one name.”
Some of the companies now under the Delta Industries umbrella include Jackson Ready Mix in central Mississippi, Tri-State Ready Mix in the greater Memphis, Tennessee and North Mississippi area, Gulf States Ready Mix on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Americrete in Meridian, Golden Triangle Ready Mix and Brookhaven Ready Mix.
“You will still sometimes see those names,” Evans said. “We are the same company and team with the same great service level those names exemplified–just consolidated under one recognizable logo and name so that our customers are clear about doing business with Delta Industries in many markets across the Southeastern U.S.”
Nationally, the construction industry is strong. There is a shortage of construction workers, and Evans that is generally true in the ready-mix concrete business, as well.
“However, as is often the case, the State of Mississippi lags much of the rest of the nation in growth, so the recovery since the Great Recession has not been a strong here in Mississippi,” Evans said. “The best way to describe it now would be to say that we have regained only a small portion of the production volume that was lost in the Great Recession.”
Things are decidedly better now than in 2010. But Evans said production volumes are still off significantly from the pre-recession highs.
“So, that has presented a challenge to our industry and a need to approach the business differently,” Evans said. “We have had to learn to be much more efficient, but without sacrificing our service levels to our customers. We are thankful to have a relatively strong backlog of work presently. Some geographic diversity helps as well, as we operate in more than 30 distinct markets in four states. So, when one markets is lagging, another is often stronger or has a larger project going. That lets us move trucks around to service the areas with the greatest need. We are very thankful for the loyalty of our customers. They are the key to our business and continued success.”
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Lance Bonner said a big factor in Delta’s success has been a commitment to and focus on meeting customer needs, and providing great product quality.
“The ready-mix concrete business is a service business,” Bonner said. “Our customers depend on consistent quality, and also need the product to be delivered on time every time. So, proper scheduling, timely communication with customers, honesty about what we can and cannot do, and advance preparation are critical to ensuring that we are on the job on time. Over the years, we have developed the reputation for doing just that, and our customers rely on us. We greatly value the trust they place in us, and are humbled by it. That keeps us focused on earning that trust every day.”
Bonner said it is important to deal forthrightly with customers. If they cannot service a job on the desired schedule, they make that clear, and then work with the customer to see if there is a way to handle it.
“We would rather be completely candid on the front end than to have a disappointed customer on the back end,” Bonner said. “We work hard to treat our customer, employees and vendors with respect and fairness, the way we would want to be treated by our vendors and business partners.”
Bonner said the company sees a strong future.
“Delta is well capitalized and poised for growth in the larger market area over the next several years,” he said. “We see a bright future, and one that expands our footprint and ability to service our larger regional and national customers. We also see continued investments in new equipment, technology deployment and employee training and development to ensure that we are positioned to provide exceptional customer service.”
Some of Delta’s larger projects in recent years have been: (1) the Continental Tire plant in Clinton where they had an onsite concrete plant to service the job, (2) the major St. Jude Hospital expansion in Memphis just nearing completion, (3) a significant expansion to the hospital in Laurel, (4) a significant project currently underway for Federal Express at the Memphis airport and (5) several buildings on the Mississippi State University campus, including the new Poultry Science building, the new Engineering building, and a new parking garage just underway.
Bonner said Delta is leading the way in deployment of new technologies in the concrete industry. All of its concrete manufacturing plants are computer controlled to ensure consistent production. These “batch computers” control the operation of the plant (with human oversight), and continue to “learn” over time to improve product quality and efficiency.
“We also deploy GPS technology in each ready-mix truck to communicate with our central dispatch teams so they know exactly where each truck is located during a job,” Bonner said. “Delta also employs software to assess our on-time delivery success compared to the customer order specifications, and other analytics that help us refine and improve our operational quality and efficiency.”
Their sales professionals are now able to track orders on iPads or other mobile devices from the job site to assist customers with scheduling. Other technology helps the company refine concrete mix designs, document and track safety performance, evaluate truck and front-end loader brand reliability and cost, and other activities critical to the business.
“So, while many technologies were later to come to the concrete industry than some other industries, ours is now a highly technologically advanced business, and it will only continue to be more so in the years ahead–to the benefit of the customer,” Bonner said.
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