Redwood Empire Concrete Pumping Equipment Profile
-Eric Worden – President of Redwood Empire Concrete Pumping Equipment
-Vickie Worden – Chief Financial Officer
-Nichole Worden – Head of IT and Marketing
-Corey Worden – Manager and Supervisor
How long have you been in the concrete business?
-Eric: I was a young kid working at a gas station in Santa Rosa, California, when a guy whose truck I was filling asked me, “what do you make here each week?” I said, “about $50 bucks,” to which he responded, “you want to make $200 instead?” Needless to say, I started pumping concrete that same week for George Ahren’s Concrete out of Santa Rosa.” A few years into my career I had the opportunity to buy my first concrete pump, a Mayco C30. That was in 1979, I was just two years out of high school. A year later Vickie quit her job and joined the company, running the office and dispatch. We have been self-employed ever since.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
-Eric: Every situation is an opportunity for growth rather than an obstacle. When I started out, there wasn’t anyone in the area who could fix my concrete hoses. It didn’t make sense to throw the whole hose away and I thought to myself, ‘I can do this’. I tracked down the guys who make the machinery that attaches new hose ends onto old but still functional hose using high pressure fittings. When the word got around that I could replace hose ends, I started up a mobile hose repair service called Redwood Empire Hose Repair. The concrete pumping industry in our area was becoming saturated, and we were pulling in fewer jobs. Everyone was pumping, but no one was repairing hose. I took an obstacle and turned it into an opportunity to diversify, grow my business and support my family.
Was the hose repair business the gateway to becoming a dealer?
-Eric: The hose repair business was a gateway into our local pumping community. I found myself getting to know all of the local concrete pumpers in the area because of the hose repair business and especially once I started my concrete pump repair business. It turns out that I really had a knack for all facets of concrete pumping and repair. After decades as a pump service and repair company, we were ready to grow our business. So, when Jason Zignego, head of Schwing SP sales, gave us the opportunity to sell Schwing products in 2006, we were perfectly poised. We already had a large customer base from the hose and pump repair business, so naturally we jumped on the opportunity. Today we are the largest SCHWING Line Pump Dealer in the nation seven years in a row.
Are you still pumping concrete?
Eric: Of course. We never stopped being pumpers. We still run two SCHWING SP 500’s daily. Selling Schwing Line Pumps to hundreds of people across the west coast has allowed our family to expand the brand and offer our customers more opportunities to grow their businesses. People know that we understand their business and how important it is to have quick service turnaround times and in-stock parts. They know we will go above and beyond for them. Once a concrete pumper, always a concrete pumper.
How did the job start in the family?
-Eric: I’ve been a concrete pumper longer than I’ve been married to my wife, Vickie, of 42 years. My kids, Corey and Nichole, grew up in this business. Pumping concrete is in our blood. It’s what we know, it’s who we are. Now that our kids are grown, they have joined the business. Working with family can be a challenge, but we always work things out together. We have been a family run operation since the beginning. Vickie, my wife, works in the background making sure all of our paperwork is in order and bills are paid. Corey, my son, runs our shop and is a superb mechanic and salesman, and my daughter, Nichole, runs our IT and marketing. It really is all in the family and we all have our roles.
-Nichole: My brother and I are invested in this company. We are here for the long haul. Schwing is in our hearts and concrete is in our veins. My brother and I hope to continue what our father and mother started and take this business to the next level. If our kids are up for it, they will have the same opportunity our parents have given us.
-Eric: The big pump to have when I started was MAYCO. In 1979, that was state of the art. When SCHWING showed up on the scene and introduced their rock valve driven pumps it was a game changer. More versatile, more reliable, and able to handle the local mix designs. Schwing line pumps really took off. Everybody wanted a Schwing pump. I bought my first SCHWING line pump in 1989 and it’s been SCHWING ever since. It’s the best there is, and I want to use the best.
How has using the stationary pump helped grow your business?
-Eric: We have had our hands-on Schwing pumps for 40 plus years. We operate Schwing pumps every day, so we know how they work best and know how to repair them. We know Schwing pumps inside and out – through experience and Schwing training. When you buy a machine from us, you aren’t just buying from a salesman. You are buying from someone who has worked with stationary pumps for over 40 years. We know how they operate and how to troubleshoot them – on the job, in the shop, and often over the phone. For us there is no guessing game when it comes to repair, we’ve seen a lot.
What are the standards you set? (What are you known for? What is your reputation?)
-Eric: We are known for our technical support first and foremost. We field many calls per day requesting technical support. A guy can call me and say, “the little square thing next to the round thing used to go click, click, click – but now it’s going buzz, buzz, buzz, clang, clang” – and I know how to fix that. We are a lifeline for a lot of pumpers.
-Corey: We also are great at turnaround time for repairs. We know what it’s like to have a machine down. It’s thousands of dollars per day to have a pump out of commission.
-Nichole: We are not just another mechanic shop putting your pump on the back burner until next week. We do everything we can to get your pump up and running and quickly back in operation making you money. We get it done – and the local pump owners know that.
-Eric: We keep a large inventory of genuine Schwing parts and concrete systems on-hand, so we don’t have to wait for shipping or any of the other issues everyone has been having since COVID. We are known for knowing how to fix and maintain concrete pumps– and for having the parts and skilled staff on hand to get it done as quickly as possible.
What’s the response when you have helped people during shortages?
-Eric: We get lots of good feedback. Most everyone is appreciative. We have service customers that have become repeat customers. We now see them regularly when their pumps need maintenance and repair. We have customers who will drive three states over to have us work on their equipment.
-Vickie: With over 40 years of pumping experience, we’ve seen a lot. Our family has worked directly with SCHWING engineers to field test, troubleshoot, and help redesign problem parts. Being able to share our and our customers’ experience directly with Schwing has allowed the brand to grow and to continue to be the most reliable and sought-after pump on the market.
What is the best part about your job and what you do?
-Eric: I like helping people succeed. We get people in here who haven’t run a concrete pump before and they aren’t sure how to make it work successfully. We try to get them set up and pointed in the right direction. There is so much more than just operating the machine. My wife helps new pump owners with the paperwork that you need to start running a concrete pumping company. All the business things they don’t teach you in “pumping school.” And my son, Corey, and I try to help them understand how to become successful owners and operators.
What sets you apart from others?
-Corey: One of the main reasons we get a lot of positive feedback from our customers is because they know they are not talking to a parts counter guy, or a salesman that’s never run a pump before. All of us here in the shop are experienced operators, too. When our customers want to know how the machine runs and how to maintain it, we can tell them everything they need to know. Heck, we even explain things to them that they didn’t know they needed to know.
-Eric: We are trained and certified through SCHWING and have years of real-life, frontline experience with this equipment. We understand our customers’ business and are here to support them in becoming successful concrete pumpers and lifelong Schwing customers. We all win with their success.