Contractor to Contractor: Mid-Continental Restoration Co., Inc.
Mid-Continental Restoration Co., Inc. (MCR), headquartered in Fort Scott, Kan., has 10 branch offices covering 20 states across the nation and is the largest traveling contractor in the restoration business. Along with masonry construction, repair and restoration, they also offer several other services including waterproofing and general contracting. The company has a masonry restoration skills training program, offered in conjunction with Fort Scott Community College, which is recognized by the Sealant, Waterproofing & Restoration Institute as an essential resource to the industry. We caught up with Bill Chasteen, of the Murfreesboro, Tenn., branch to find out more about Mid-Continental.
Masonry: In the company's history, what do you think has been the key to Mid-Continental's growth and success?
Chasteen: I think the key to Mid-Continental's growth has been the commitment to the highest quality and craftsmanship. We also benefit from the power of employee ownership; every employee has a vested interest in Mid-Continental's success.
Masonry: The Murfreesboro branch covers an impressive five-state area. How does this change the way you handle business compared to a single-city or single-state contractor?
Chasteen: At Mid-Continental, in order for us to compete, we need to be better prepared and manage our projects better than single-city or single-state operation. Sometimes we have to go to remote locations, but our employee ownership plan offers us experienced crew members who are willing to travel.
Masonry: Mid-Continental offers a wide variety of services that go beyond masonry. How has this helped your business?
Chasteen: I think, other than masonry repair, being able to provide other services involved with repair to the building saves the owner dollars. We like being able to save money for the owner.
Masonry: Mid-Continental stresses safety across the board, from training to on-the-site. Please tell us what steps Mid-Continental takes in this area and how it has affected your ability to complete jobs and the overall bottom line?
Chasteen: Because of our employee ownership program, we are all ultimately responsible for the well-being of our shareholders, which are the employees. Being able to provide a safe workplace for each of them is priority number one.
Secondly, it's the cost of insurance these days. We are constantly looking for ways to reduce insurance premiums and the best ways to eliminate injuries and accidents. All of our employees are trained in safety compliance and the cost of these safety measures is all a part of doing business.
These days, owners are becoming more and more aware of the need of a good safety program. Our safety program has successfully reduced our insurance premiums and helps to sell our company to safety conscious consumers.
Masonry: What type of safety training do your employees go through?
Chasteen: We have a corporate safety director who annually comes out and gives training sessions for each of the crew members at the job site. We also have a 10-hour OSHA class that we have annually and are certified in.
Masonry: Tell us a little more about the masonry restoration skills training program and how that has helped your business.
Chasteen: Initially, Mid-Continental set up our masonry restoration skills in-house to expedite the learning curve of our new employees. Our local community college approached us for them to apply the training to the entire restoration work group industry and, hopefully, to attract new craftsmen into the trade. Being in favor of raising the standard of quality throughout the industry and bringing new craftsmen aboard, we assisted the college in getting started.
To date, over 100 craftsmen have been through the restoration skills training at the community college, thus allowing Mid-Continental and other restoration contractors the ability to grow their workforce.
Masonry: What do you feel is the biggest misconception about the masonry industry?
Chasteen: The biggest misconception I think is that masonry contractors in general do not care about quality of their work.
Masonry: What would you do to change that misconception?
Chasteen: I think mason contractors should do exactly what we're currently doing. We're trying to raise the standard of quality and change that opinion.
Masonry: What is your biggest concern in keeping your company successful?
Chasteen: I think our biggest concern is being able to find quality craftsmen, who care about their work, that perform and care about the company they work for.
Masonry: What do you feel is the industry's biggest challenge in the near future?
Chasteen: Our biggest challenge is being able to find quality craftsmen who are willing to go on the road for us, and then keeping those guys.
Masonry: Where do you think the masonry industry is going to be 10 years from now?
Chasteen: We believe that only those companies that address the safety concerns every single day will be in business. The insurance premiums and lawsuits will put the others out of business.
Masonry: What do you think will be the masonry industry's biggest competitor in 10 years?
Chasteen: Well, masonry has been around for decades and centuries. Masonry construction is seriously, by far, the most durable construction material. I don't think we have any competitors.
Masonry: What do you feel are the most critical issues you'll face with future government regulations?
Chasteen: I think the most critical issues we'll face with the government will be with dust containment and the waste disposal of that dust. The EPA hasn't been as strict as they have been in the last few years, but in the early '80s people were really concerned about it. I think that's going to be a factor again.
Masonry: Which group do you feel has the bigger impact on masonry's future: architects, engineers or general contractors?
Chasteen: Engineers and general contractors will have the biggest impact on the future of masonry. With the liabilities in the market today and masonry construction as the safest and most durable construction material — engineers and general contractors recognize this.
Masonry: What do you like most about being a member of MCAA?
Chasteen: We like being part of a group that promotes the use of masonry in construction. I really like your magazine, too.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.