Growing a Poured Wall Business with Pumps

Twin brothers Rob and Rick Briskey hit the ground running with their own poured wall company, Briskey Bros., Tecumseh, MI, in 1995. Utilizing a systematic approach involving delegated, task-driven crews and careful, swift dispatching, the twins created an efficient and popular residential contracting company. Three years after the company’s conception, the duo added a Schwing concrete boom pump, completing their formula for success.

“I’ll be honest. Initially, we didn’t see where there would be a place for a concrete pump in the way we did business,” says Rob Briskey. “We were keeping crews busy all day and the work kept coming in. We didn’t see the benefit in investing in another piece of machinery.”

To their credit, the Briskey Bros. philosophy had already proved successful. “Even before we purchased our first boom pump in 1998, we’ve always provided our services in a very organized, methodical way. We’ve been doing it the same way for years, and it works,” says Rob.

Each member of Briskey’s roster is part of a dedicated crew that is assigned one or two particular tasks involved in the poured wall process. First, one five-member crew is assigned to place aggregate with the company’s gravel train or stone slinger, and then set up footing pours. Before the addition of a concrete pump, footing pours involved dumping and wheelbarrow methods. Rob unenthusiastically remembers life before their pumps. “The job required a lot of site preparation before we could even think about that first footing pour – ramps for ready mix truck access; extensive measures were taken to make sure the necessary equipment could get to the job,” he says.

Now, footing pours are completed with one of Briskey’s four concrete boom pumps and their three-member pumping and placing crew – two employees plus the operator – without the site prep concerns.

”Now, our boom pumps reach over all of the rough terrain and right into the excavation. All we have to do is provide a driveway for the supplier.”

Rob estimates the pumps have provided the company between 10 and 15 percent savings in excavation costs. “There are a couple of ways to look at the cost savings, but I see it this way: when we don’t have to mess with site prep, we can complete two more basements every week.”

Second, a separate eight-man form crew brings in the company’s form truck with 95-foot knuckle boom. Aluminum forms are then placed in the hole, and the wall is set.

Following form setup the pumping and placing crew returns to pour the forms. A eight- member crew strips the forms.

Briskey Bros utilizes almost the same number of employees today as when they began in 1995. Rob says specialization is the key to making a “five to six man crew do double the work of a ten to twelve person operation without tiring them out. The addition of a concrete pump allows a small operation to get bigger without adding a lot of extra labor,” says Rob.

During their first year in business, Briskey crews completed 114 basements. Concrete pumps were used for less than two percent of their work.

Today, on their busiest days, the operation completes seven to eight jobs per day, typically utilizing their four boom pumps. In 2004, the company completed nearly 650 basements. All of the projects were 100 percent pumped.

”When we finally realized the benefits to concrete pump ownership in 1998, we were tentative about financing. Rick and I agreed that a trailer pump would be the most practical and economical way to start. We attended that year’s World of Concrete and made a beeline for the Schwing booth. Once we discussed our business philosophy, our applications and our requirements with Schwing representatives, we realized that a boom pump was what we really needed to meet our expectations in regard to efficiency and production.”

Briskey purchased a brand new 32 XL from Schwing dealer and pumping contractor Cross Enterprises, Inc., Melvindale, MI. In addition to enrolling in Schwing Service Seminars and achieving ACPA certification, Briskey operators were provided one-on-one training with the veteran operators at Cross.

“Our employees were given the opportunity to ride with them for as long as it took them to learn the basics. They invested a personal interest in our guys and our operation,” says Rob.

Included in their third concrete boom pump purchase was a trip to the motherland.

“There was a show special promotion going on when we purchased our 39-meter at the 2001 show. Schwing provided Rick and I a trip to Germany to attend the Bauma Trade Fair. What other company would provide you with the opportunity to see where concrete pumping was born?” comments Rob.

The close business relationship and appreciation among contractor, dealer and manufacturer has paid off for all parties involved. In addition to their 32 XL, Briskey Bros has also invested in and regularly operates one KVM 34 X and two KVM 39 X boom pumps.

“There’s no better service and support than what we get from Cross,” says Rob. Briskey owns approximately 60 licensed vehicles and over forty pieces of equipment. “Not on any of the other machines have we received such good service and after sales support,” says Rob.

Schwing’s broad line of versatile pumping equipment has also proved beneficial as Briskey expands their capabilities and services. “The 32-meter boom has adequate reach for almost all of our projects,” says Rob. “In the beginning, it was exactly what we needed. Eventually, however, the developments got bigger, more complicated. Multi-family homes are suddenly in huge demand and the extra reach of the 39-meter boom comes in very handy. I’m not forced to relocate in the middle of a pour, which is a huge time saver.”

Utilizing their extensive equipment fleet, solid reputation and amicable business relations, Rob and Rick also developed a complete home construction company, Roick Homes, in 2000.

“Our approach and our equipment gives us the ability to provide stellar customer service. We’re on and off the job site very quickly. And because the pumps and the suppliers stay on the curb, we’re also able to keep the mess more manageable. That helps with community relations. We rarely experience complaints, call backs or repair work with the quality of pumped concrete.”

Rob says their experience with ready-mix suppliers has also improved since the addition of the pumps. “We receive preferential treatment now,” Rob comments. “Before, we were just like every other one of their customers – we had scheduling hassles and delays in production and progress. Now, they know we’re in and out of there in no time – they can finish with us and get on to their next job, and so can we.”

Briskey Bros.’ pumping fleet is utilized 80 percent of the time on their own residential projects. The remaining 20 percent is contracted out to complete contracts for other residential customers.

In 2003, Briskey Bros. was given an opportunity to show the world just how far they’d come. One of the company’s KVM 39 X boom pumps was exhibited with several other state-of-the-art Schwing models at the 2003 World of Concrete, held in Orlando, FL.

“It was pretty cool to see an important part of our operation on display at the industry’s biggest trade show. The boom pumps have been an incredible addition to an already successful approach to production and efficiency,” says Rob.