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The concrete industry has been facing pressure to reduce its carbon footprint due to concerns about sustainability and the environment. In fact, the Portland Cement Association estimates that the manufacture of a cubic yard of concrete, which weighs about 3900 lbs, is responsible for emitting about 400 lbs of CO2. This is because cement, a key ingredient in concrete, is responsible for about 0.9 pounds of CO2 emissions per pound of cement produced.

One potential solution to this problem is the use of Carbon Locked Concrete, a process that reduces the carbon footprint of precast concrete. This process involves the use of recycled industrial by-products, such as fly ash and slag, in the production of concrete, as well as the use of Carbon Cure’s injection system, which injects carbon directly into the mix. Carbon cure is a process that is used to accelerate the curing of precast concrete and improve its properties. The process involves the injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the concrete mix, which reacts with the calcium hydroxide in the concrete to form a stronger calcium carbonate compound. This reaction helps to cure the concrete more quickly and effectively, resulting in stronger and more durable concrete. [• Carbon Cure Technologies. (n.d.). How Carbon Cure Works. Retrieved from https://www.carboncure.com/how-it-works/]   This process results in Mix #24, which has several benefits in terms of sustainability.

First and foremost, the use of recycled materials in the production of concrete reduces the demand for virgin materials, such as cement and aggregate, which are resource-intensive to produce. This can help to reduce the environmental impact of concrete production. In addition, the use of recycled materials in concrete reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, as these materials would otherwise be discarded.

Another benefit of Carbon Locked Concrete is that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The production of cement is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and by using recycled materials in the production of concrete, the carbon cure process reduces the amount of cement needed and therefore also reduces the associated greenhouse gas emissions.

The use of Mix #24 in the production of precast concrete also has other environmental benefits. For example, it can improve the durability and longevity of the finished product, as the use of recycled materials can increase the strength and resistance to cracking and other types of damage. This can reduce the need for repair and maintenance over the lifespan of the concrete, further reducing the environmental impact.

In summary, Carbon Locked Concrete is a sustainable alternative to traditional concrete production methods. It reduces the demand for virgin materials, reduces waste generation, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions, while also improving the durability and longevity of the finished product. These benefits make it an attractive option for those looking to reduce their environmental impact in the construction industry.

 


 

Stay tuned for our next article.

We hope this article was helpful. Please send in your questions to info@lockesolutions.com and we would be happy to help answer them.

 

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Lien laws are in place to protect contractors and other suppliers who provide goods or services to property owners but are not paid for their work. These laws allow contractors to file a lien on a property if the property owner does not pay the debt, which gives the contractor a legal claim to the property until the debt is paid. This provides contractors with a powerful tool for collecting on unpaid debts, and it can help to ensure that they are paid for the work they have performed.

In Texas, a supplier who has provided goods or services to a property owner must take certain steps in order to protect their lien rights on the project. These steps include:

  1. The supplier must provide a written notice of intent to lien to the property owner within a certain number of days after the last day they provided goods or services to the property. This notice must include the name and address of the property owner, the property address, the name of the supplier, the date the goods or services were last provided, and a description of the goods or services provided.
  2. The supplier must then file a lien on the property within a certain period of time after the last day they provided goods or services to the property. This must be done by filing a sworn statement with the county clerk’s office, along with a copy of the notice of intent to lien and other required documentation.
  3. If the property owner disputes the lien or refuses to make payment, the supplier must file a lawsuit to enforce the lien within a period of time after the lien was filed.

Only by following these steps can a supplier in Texas legally protect their lien rights and ensure that they are able to collect on any unpaid debts for goods or services provided to a property owner.

So what does it mean if you receive a notice of intent to lien?

If you are in the construction industry, you know things rarely go as planned.  When issues arise, often the lack of payment is one of the first indicators that there is a problem.  If you have ever received a piece of mail on the 16th of the month with a green certified label on it, then chances are you have been sent a lien notice. Here is everything that you need to know about a lien notice and what receiving a lien means for your company.

What is a notice of intent to lien? 

A notice of intent to lien is a legal document that is filed by a contractor or supplier who has not been paid for goods or services provided to a property owner. The notice serves as a warning to the property owner that the contractor or supplier intends to file a lien on the property if the debt is not paid. This gives the property owner an opportunity to pay the debt before a lien is actually filed, which can help to avoid potential legal complications and expenses. A notice of intent to lien is also known as a “preliminary notice” or a “notice of nonpayment.” In some states, such as Texas, a notice of intent to lien is a required step before a lien can be filed and is required to maintain lien rights as stated in chapter 53 of the Texas Property Code.

Why are you getting this Notice?

The reason why you received a lien notice is because your vendor has not yet received payment for their products or services on a project and in order to legally maintain their lien rights, they are required to send out a notice as part of the lien rules stated in the Texas Property Code.  Contractors, sub-contractors, and suppliers use lien notices as a way to “remind” or notify the owner that payment has not been received for services provided.  

Do Lien Notices Actually Work?

If you are a contractor and waiting on funding from the project owner so you can pay your suppliers and vendors, a notice from your suppliers can be a useful means of getting the owner’s attention on unpaid invoices.  Property owners typically do not want liens filed on their property for several reasons. First, a lien can make it difficult or impossible for the property owner to sell or refinance the property until the lien is paid or released. This can be a major inconvenience and can limit the property owner’s ability to access the equity in their property. Second, liens can be expensive to resolve, since the property owner may need to hire a lawyer and go to court to have the lien removed, which can be a significant financial burden. Finally, liens can damage the property owner’s credit score and reputation, which can make it difficult for them to obtain financing or other services in the future. For all these reasons, property owners typically prefer to avoid having liens filed on their property whenever possible.


“In construction, most goods and services are sold on credit.  C.O.D. sales are rare and payment upfront is almost unheard of.  This marketplace reality means design professionals, suppliers, and contractors of every tier typically must extend credit to their customers.  Liens enable them to secure that credit.  The process can be cumbersome, and at times overly complicated, but filing a lien remains vital to the industry.  It is often the best way to ensure payment, and it is one of the most valuable services we lawyers can provide to our clients.”

Joe Virene
| Partner at Gray Reed, a full-service, Texas law firm in Dallas, Houston and Waco



What is the Difference between a Notice of Intent to Lien and a Filed Lien?

A notice of intent to lien and a filed lien are both legal documents that are used to protect contractors and other suppliers who have not been paid for goods or services provided to a property owner. However, there are several key differences between the two:

  1. Timing – A notice of intent to lien is filed before a lien is actually placed on the property, while a filed lien is the actual lien that is placed on the property. A notice of intent to lien typically gives the property owner a certain amount of time, such as 30 days, to pay the debt before a lien is filed.
  2. Purpose – The purpose of a notice of intent to lien is to provide the property owner with a warning that a lien will be filed if the debt is not paid. The purpose of a filed lien is to create a legal claim on the property that can be used to enforce payment of the debt.
  3. Legal consequences – Receiving a notice of intent to lien does not have any legal consequences for the property owner. However, a filed lien can have significant legal consequences, such as making it difficult or impossible for the property owner to sell or refinance the property until the lien is paid or released. A filed lien can also result in legal action, such as a lawsuit to enforce the lien, if the property owner disputes the lien or fails to pay the debt.
  4. Requirements – The requirements for filing a notice of intent to lien and a filed lien can vary depending on the state and local laws. In some states, such as Texas, a notice of intent to lien is a required step before a lien can be filed, while in other states it is optional. 

What are Common Misconceptions about Lien Notices?

  1. That it is not a serious matter – Receiving a notice of intent to lien is a serious matter, and property owners should take it seriously and respond promptly. Ignoring the notice or failing to take action can result in a lien being filed on their property, which can cause significant legal and financial problems.
  2. That it is a scam – Some property owners may believe that a notice of intent to lien is a scam or a fraudulent attempt to extort money from them. However, a notice of intent to lien is a legal document that is typically filed by a legitimate contractor or supplier who has not been paid for their work. Property owners should carefully review the notice and contact the person or company listed on it to verify its authenticity.
  3. That it means they do not have to pay the debt – Receiving a notice of intent to lien does not mean that the property owner does not have to pay the debt. It simply means that the contractor or supplier intends to file a lien on the property if the debt is not paid. The property owner is still responsible for paying the debt and failing to do so can result in a lien being filed on their property.
  4. That it cannot be contested – Some property owners may believe that a notice of intent to lien cannot be contested or challenged in any way. However, this is not the case. Property owners have the right to dispute the lien and may be able to have it removed if they can prove that the debt is not owed or that it has already been paid. Property owners should consult with a lawyer if they believe that a notice of intent to lien has been filed in error or is unjustified.

Lien Notice Deadlines 

Under Texas law contractors and manufacturers are protected by chapter 53 of the State of Texas Property Code. To protect your rights and to have a claim to a lien, you must mail certain documents by their due dates. There are two main types of projects and figuring out what category you fall into will determine which deadlines you must follow. 

The first is residential projects. Notices must be sent to the owner and prime contractor by the 15th day of the second month after work is performed.

For Non-Residential projects, a notice will be sent to the prime contractor, general contractor, and owner of the job by the 15th day of the third month after work is performed. 

Deadline Changes 

On June 15th, Governor Greg Abbott signed House bill 2237 into law. The Lien law changes came into effect in January 2022. 

A notable key factor that changed was the Pre-Notice or Lien Notice deadlines. Before the change, a notice for a non-residential project had to be sent to the general contractor of the job by the 15th day of second month after work was completed. A second notice was then required to be sent to the general contractor and the owner of the job on the 15th of the third month. 

Under the revisions the second month notice was eliminated. To reserve your lien rights now, you must only submit one notice on the 15th day of the third month after work is completed.

Filed Liens 

If funding is not provided to your vendor by the 15th day of the 4th month, then they have the rights to file a lien on the job. This will usually be sent to an attorney, and they will pursue legal action. 

Final thoughts

If you have received a lien notice from a vendor, it is important that you understand what it means and what your next steps should be. Make sure that you have all project information up to date and note that this could potentially be beneficial and help your company get paid.

 


 

Stay tuned for our next article.

We hope this article was helpful. Please send in your questions to info@lockesolutions.com and we would be happy to help answer them.

 

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Precast concrete can present problems. However, there are proactive measures that can be taken and several solutions to combat many of these challenges.

Here are some of the most common challenges we hear associated with precast concrete structures:

  1. Sealing the Joints
  2. Shipping the Product
  3. Offloading & Rigging Concerns
  4. Preparation of Subgrade
  5. Lack of Flexibility
  6. Repairing Spalls or Cracks

SEALING THE JOINTS

Problems can arise with the sealing of precast concrete joints. Over time, joints can separate from one another which can compromise and weaken the structure. This problem can occur when joint sealants are not applied correctly. This usually occurs if the joint sealant instructions are followed incorrectly. If the joints are not properly prepared or cleaned prior to applying the joint sealant this can weaken the adhesion between joints and prevent the joints from properly sealing with one another. However, joint sealant problems are usually very preventable. If the joint sealant instructions are followed and all appropriate preparations are made prior to applying the joint sealant such as: ensuring that the joints are clean and free of any dirt or debris along with checking that the joints are properly formed to fit together correctly by conducting a dry fit or checking the alignment prior to the joint sealant application, then the application of precast joint sealants should be successful and problems with the joint sealants should not occur. See more about joint sealant options and installation in our article.

 

SHIPPING THE PRODUCT

Shipping precast concrete can be challenging and it is should be a coordinated effort between the manufacturer and job site contact. Precast concrete can be difficult to transport due to the weight and potential because of how large the structures can be. For larger structures, specialized trucking and various preparations could be needed to transport the structures. The greater the height, width, and weight of the structures, the greater number of arrangements that are possibly needed to facilitate the transportation. Structures over 8 feet 6 inches wide will require a permit. Structures that are over 14 feet wide require a permit and an escort. Structures that are over 16 feet wide will require a permit and two escorts. Precast concrete structures that are over a certain weight will also need a weight permit. For shipments taller than 13 feet, route inspections must take place and potential bucket lifts may be required to add in avoiding powerlines. The route will be surveyed to ensure it is safe for the structures to travel. Logistically, transporting precast concrete can seem challenging, but utilizing expert hauling companies who understand the DOT rules and who are equipped with the right trucks and trailers can make the delivery seamless. In the event the structure is too heavy, too tall, or too wide to be transported, precast designers can normally split the structure into multiple sections to reduce the weight or size of any individual precast section. There are several methods for creating structural connections between sections of precast in the field. This makes transporting these large structures possible and reducing the lifting capacity needed on site.  See more about shipping best practices in our article.

 

OFFLOADING AND RIGGING CONCERNS

Another challenge with precast concrete is offloading and properly rigging the structures. Normally, cranes or large equipment are needed to pick up and move the structures. As with any process involving cranes, there is a risk associated with understanding the capacity of the crane, rigging, and lifting devices. It is important that the correct rigging is utilized so that the structure is secure before lifting.

Improper shoring of an excavation can lead to catastrophic failures and should be inspected and engineered if necessary. In the event that a job site has overhead obstructions or there is a question regarding the shoring, it is a good idea to involve the crane company and walk the site before installation. For extremely large structures, lifting diagrams and rigging plans should be created by certified engineers to ensure the structure is lifted properly. Understanding how to correctly rig a precast structure, recognizing the lifting capabilities of the equipment and rigging devices, and knowing which equipment is most appropriate for each individual lift will facilitate a safer and more efficient offloading and setting process.

 

PREPARATION OF SUBGRADE

Preparing the subgrade is one of the most important elements of a successful precast concrete installation. Problems can arise if this is done incorrectly. A subgrade that is weak can settle incorrectly and shift the structure causing it to crack or sink. For example, if electrical cables are running through any of these structures while they shift underground, cables can break creating significant problems. The surest way to prevent this is to make sure that the subgrade is properly prepared for the structure. To do this, the ground must first be excavated correctly. Any unwanted debris or materials should be removed. By doing this, it will help to create a level and firm subgrade and it will help to stop the settlement or any shifting that would cause the concrete to crack. The subgrade must also be compacted and completely flat. When backfilling the subgrade, it is important to know the permissible backfill material. The backfill should be compacted and evenly distributed. Properly preparing the subgrade will help to ensure that the structure will stay in place and greatly minimize any issues from occurring. 

 

LACK OF FLEXIBILITY

Precast concrete can be challenging with its lack of flexibility once the structure has been built and delivered to the jobsite. Sometimes, precast structures are designed based on as-built drawings of what is expected to be encountered below ground. If a precast structure is built to tie into existing piping, there is the possibility of the existing piping to not be in the location expected, possibly rendering the precast structure useless.

To avoid this situation, partial excavations can be performed in advance to confirm the location of utilities prior to manufacturing the precast structure. Structures can also be designed utilizing thin wall knockouts, which are sections of the precast wall specifically designed to be thinner and allowable to break through the area needed. This provides more flexibility in where the location of the pipe penetration occurs in the precast wall.

 

REPAIRING SPALLS OR CRACKS

Precast concrete structures can sometimes get cracks or spalls. Structural spalls can occur from poor form construction, rough removal from forms, improper storage, early removal of the structure, and poor handling methods of the structure. There are three different types of concrete repairs: Structural Repairs, Cosmetic Repairs, and Architectural Repairs. Structural Repairs involve repairs around any lifting areas or structural connections. Cosmetic Repairs are used to repair the outside appearance of the concrete including filling in any bug-holes, honeycombing, or exposed rebar. Architectural repairs are more focused on high visibility architectural concrete requiring more stringent color and texture matching. 

Cosmetic repairs can be performed with a cement and sand mixture called grout and can be applied with a sponge float or a steel trowel. 

Structural repairs should be analyzed by a structural engineer and a detailed procedure should be developed to ensure a proper repair is completed. Often, an epoxy mortar or polymer-modified cement-based grout is used to repair structural cracks or spalls. In general, the damaged concrete should first be removed, then the surface prepared for the new repair material. Steel reinforcement should be cleaned and exposed and a primer should be used to create the proper adhesion between materials. Next, the new mortar should then be applied and left to set and cure. 

Using precast concrete in your construction process has its challenges, but if handled properly, the benefits to your schedule and installation costs can far outweigh these challenges. Consult with your local precaster if you have any other concerns or questions on your next project.

 


 

Stay tuned for the next article!

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Precast concrete Light Pole Bases are pre-engineered, pretested and manufactured in a controlled environment.

Precast Concrete Light Pole Bases provide a fast and easy way to install light poles up to twenty-five feet in height and in some cases taller.

 

We have partnered with LPB and their proven universal bolt system allowing us to stock pre-engineered units.

 

Light Pole Base Features:

• Accommodates Light Poles up to twenty-five feet tall
• Adjustable anchoring system for bolt patterns ranging from 7-1/4” to 13’-1/2” in diameter
• Pre-engineered and pre-tested light pole bases are 24” diameter.
• Light Pole Bases are designed for multiple conduits from all directions
• Other sizes available upon request
• The future of light pole bases

Minimize Your Project Time:

• Stocked and available for when you need it
• Fast and easy installation
• Less weather dependency
• Less manpower is needed

 

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Locke Solutions recently manufactured the concrete column and beam structure for two compressor station platforms for a polyethylene expansion project for Total Petrochemicals near Houston, TX.  The total project consisted of 42 columns and 120 beams with individual sections weighing as much as 53,000 lbs.  Locke’s design team worked hand-in-hand with the contractor, Bo-Mac Contractors, and the engineering group with McDermott/CB&I to convert the original cast-in-place design to a precast construction method.  The goal was to drastically improve the schedule duration of the installation and to provide a safe working environment to manufacture this concrete frame with the tightest of tolerances.

Locke’s design team developed hundreds of drawings to detail each individual column and beam and show the unique placement of embed plates, anchor bolts, lifting anchors, steel reinforcement locations, and diagrams for lifting and installation.

The concept of prefabricated products has continued to gain favor as contractors and engineering firms are trying to find more efficient and quality methods of construction.  Not only concrete, but other materials have seen success with prefabrication methods including steel, piping, and electronic components…all benefiting from the advantages of offsite fabrication in controlled environments prior to being installed on the job site.

One of the benefits of fabricating these elements in advance is the ability to stage products and plan for delivery and installation when weather conditions are favorable.

The result is a structure built within a factory-controlled environment with zero safety incidents and laser tight tolerances, all contributing to shorter installation time and less risk of weather delays.

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At Locke, we take pride in the relationships we create through the products we build. Though we do have some products readily available “on the shelf”, we primarily create custom pieces for our clients by solving their technical problems in order to create a design that meets their needs.

We consider this service as part of our larger process, even referring to ourselves as “Your personal precast division.” With our refined design process and our years of experience in custom solutions, we try to help customers see the benefits—and flexibility—of precasting. We understand that good customer service is a cornerstone to product creation and we take our process very seriously and our products are a direct result of that.

 

OUR APPROACH TO CUSTOM

Just because a product is “custom” doesn’t mean the approach has to feel that way. Since our inception, we have developed unique approaches to precast design that get results without all of the typical design headaches like decision fatigue, delayed build times, or blatant delivery issues. Our tried-and-true process allows us to stay on task while still remaining flexible in pursuit of what we find incredibly important: solutions. Have questions about our approach to precast? Reach out, we’d love to talk about it.

 

IMPROVING PROCESSES

We actively refine our process for better efficiency, shortened production times, and smarter communication throughout the product lifecycle. As we move forward as an organization, we are considering even better ways to implement technology into our daily workflows, creating tighter feedback loops and simplify progress updates. We’re even actively investing in our proprietary software that tracks hours and production timelines, leading to better, more transparent billing and scheduling.

 

GROWING OUR CAPABILITIES

A process is only as good as your ability to implement and support change That’s why Locke continuously improves our industry-leading plant, ensuring what we can dream up can swiftly become reality. From our recent investment of 2 new crane 45′ Proserve bridge cranes to our proprietary production application, Locke puts it money where its heart is: better service.


And as 2020 comes to a close, we’re thankful for all the little improvements on our horizon and look forward to sharing them as they are deployed. We truly are a solutions company, even for ourselves.

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We are proud to share the following press release from NPCA:

Local Businessman Elected to Trade Association Board

Indianapolis, Ind. – Asher Kazmann, president of Locke Solutions in Houston, Texas, was elected to serve a three-year term on the National Precast Concrete Association Board of Directors on October 5 during NPCA’s 55th Annual Convention.

Kazmann has worked in the precast concrete industry for 18 years, starting as a structural engineer before founding Locke Solutions in 2013. Locke focuses on engineered precast products in the industrial and heavy commercial markets with products including manholes, pull boxes, utility trenches, box culverts and more.

“I look forward to working with Asher and seeing the impact he makes on our association and industry,” said NPCA President Fred Grubbe. “Asher is an innovative businessman who looks for new and modern ways of doing things, which will translate well as a member of the NPCA Board of Directors.”

Kazmann has been active with NPCA since 2013, serving on the Utility Structures Committee and Education Committee. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Associated Builders and Contractors. He is a KidsHOPE mentor and serves on the St. Luke’s United Methodist Lay Leader Committee. In his free time, he enjoys coaching his three kids in soccer and baseball and traveling with his family.  “My family, especially my wife Meghan, have been my greatest supporters during my career and they are a daily reminder of why I need to be serving my employees and the industry.”


Now in its 55th year, the National Precast Concrete Association (precast.org) provides technical, educational and safety resources to more than 900 member companies in 12 countries, all 50 states and seven Canadian provinces.

For More Information:

Kirk Stelsel
Vice President of Communications
(317) 582-2318
kstelsel@precast.org

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LOCKE CONTINUES TO GROW WITH—AND FOR—OUR CUSTOMERS.

We recently installed two new 45′ long Proserv bridge cranes, one bridge crane in each of our service departments with 50-ton and 20-ton load capacities. Read below for more.

PROJECT PURPOSE

These overhead bridge cranes were installed to increase our handling capacity, productivity, and give us the ability to lift larger precast concrete structures. Plus, the previously installed cranes along with the new cranes allow us to lift up to 100 tons on a single pick inside our facility.  “We often design and manufacture large structures such as concrete pits, concrete pier caps, precast concrete columns and beams for pipe rack systems, or aircraft loaded concrete manholes with thick wall sections.” says David Espino, Locke’s Operations Manager.  “These structures can easily range from 20 to 100 tons, so having this 100 ton lifting capacity will reduce our manufacturing costs and significantly reduce our overall production lead time.”  There is a misconception that prefabricating concrete structures is only possible with smaller structures.

RESULTS OF THE INSTALL

We are now able to provide larger structures to our customers with shorter lead times.  Espino notes, “The cranes have also allowed us to be more productive on the manufacturing side increasing our bridge crane count up to 6 within our facility allowing us to perform more crane dependent activities simultaneously throughout the day.”  At Locke, we continue to invest in our equipment and facility to keep ourselves ahead of the competition in terms of service and lead time for our concrete products.  Our culture is centered around making life easier for our customer.

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We were recently interviewed by Precast Inc Magazine.

It was a pleasure to be included in a recent issue of Precast Inc Magazine. During the process, it was nice to reflect on who we are as an organization and what led us here. We think they hit it on the head with this statement:

How innovation and old-school business practices have rocketed Locke Solutions from a start-up company to a successful precast concrete producer in Houston.

Since its inception, Locke has been focused on innovation and service. By considering design and technology as strategic advantages, we have streamlined our processes and furthered our ability to customize. We knew all along that innovation, paired with our dedication to our customers and the level of service we provide them, provided us with stable ground in which to grow the business.

We appreciate Precast Inc Magazine and hope you enjoy the read.

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We were recently interviewed by Concrete Products Magazine

Back in 2015, we got to know one another and talked about our customer-centric approach. This time around, Concrete Products talked about the growth of Houston and Locke as well as our all-new facility. We appreciate that they took the time to get to know us even more.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE BELOW or download the pdf.

UNLOCKED POTENTIAL

A good indicator of the population growth and construction demand Texas has sustained much of this decade lies on a 17.5-acre Houston site, new home to an operator that leveraged customization to build a brand in a business where economy turns on product repeatability. A specialist in underground precast concrete for energy, utility and municipal markets, Locke Solutions chose the property to succeed a nearby, four-acre charter operation with 27,000-sq.-ft. plant enclosure. Relocation to a site with 40,000 sq. ft. of production under roof, 17,000 sq. ft. of office and break room space, and more than quadruple the acreage is no surprise. When Concrete Products visited upstart Locke Solutions in 2015, the writing was on the wall: Demand for stock and custom precast underground components and structures was beyond what the producer could handle from the site, where outdoor space equated to gate-free storage, coupled with the occasional fabrication and testing of larger products in public view. Through landscaping and building setback, the new plant very adequately buffers production and truck staging from neighbors in a subdivision opposite the entry. “We decided to move forward with the idea of a new facility at the beginning of 2016. The old plant was becoming crowded and we could foresee it constricting our ability to grow in the near future,” says Asher Kazmann, a Texas A&M University engineering graduate who founded Locke Solutions in 2013. “From 2017 to the present, revenue has increased more than 175 percent, while our backlog has risen sixfold over the same period. It won’t be long before we need to increase capacity by expanding our footprint at the new facility.

LIFTING EXPECTATIONS

Locke Solutions maintains a catalog of smaller, stock structures or components across Communication, Drainage, Electrical, Industrial and Trench programs. “We have continued to grow by focusing on designs and alternative methods to cast-in-place construction to help reduce our clients’ costs,” Kazmann observes. “Most of our contracts are awarded to us because we have proven to be able to shorten the project schedule and mitigate part of the risk contractors deal with during cast-in-place concrete construction.” The producer has significantly upped capacity for innovative structures in all size classes, especially those 20 tons and up. The old site had lifting capability of 40 tons and a 21.5-ft. crane hook height. The new plant’s main production bay has a 50-ton bridge crane with 31.5-ft. hook height; a 10-ton model affording 42.5-ft. hook height serves a companion bay. “Compared to the original facility, we have more options in how we design precast structures in terms of both weight and maximum height,” Kazmann affirms. “On contracts requiring structures that exceed our lifting capacity, we set up a 40- x 100-ft. casting area.” The new facility has 5,000 square feet dedicated to metal fabrication, including miscellaneous steel embeds, mold fabrication, and maintenance work. Although Locke Solutions enlists a few key vendors to provide metal services—thereby allowing team members to focus primarily on concrete operations—the fabrication space assures flexibility to control lead times when needed.

synchro design build

An affiliated business, Syncho, designed and built Locke Solutions’ new headquarters and plant. Compared to the producer’s charter site a few miles east, the new operation is equipped to deliver increasingly larger and more engineered structures.


PERPETUAL BUY IN

Locke Solutions launched six years ago as the Texas economy was outperforming the rest of the country. While building and utility infrastructure market tailwinds boosted sales prospects early on, the producer knew ultimate success hinged on making strong first impressions by timely delivery of precast concrete solutions. Creative engineering and production flexibility attributed to in-house mold fabrication capability jolted initial market development. “Several projects we have worked on through the years have started with a single structure or small scope of precast work,” Asher Kazmann explains. “Over the life of the project, orders have grown in scope and product variety as contractors or owners see the value in precast over cast-in-place concrete alternatives. Often times, we have converted up to five concrete elements as a schedule takes shape.” A 2015 electrical manhole and traffic barrier contract for a large industrial site set a template that has carried the company to its new home. Shortly into the precast delivery cycle, Kazmann recalls, “The customer asked if we could redesign large cast-in-place stormwater junction boxes and box culverts into precast. Next we were given an opportunity to redesign cast-in-place pipe sleeper foundations and meter valve enclosures.

Finally, we worked with the contractor to redesign a cast-in-place concrete sloping trench drain into a precast alternative system. All of this additional scope was derived from the contractor and owner recognizing they could shorten the project duration and reduce the manpower needed on the site. We have seen several projects with new clients play out in this same fashion over the years.” Upholding the precast concrete value propositions of delivery certainty, quality control, and reduced project schedule risks has netted Locke Solutions orders from major energy and petrochemical customers, a handful of them accounting for shipments of 2,000 tons or more.

Competencies in precast production and re-engineering cast-in-place concrete designs have also earned the producer consistent business with its largest accounts thus far: Houston Airport System and Port Houston, whose combined precast orders have eclipsed 20,000 tons. “The Texas and Houston markets have continued to maintain a steady pace the past few years,” Kazmann concludes. “From corporations planting their headquarters in the Houston area to the general growth in population, we have been fortunate to see continued growth and product demand. We still have a strong focus on the industrial and heavy commercial markets in the greater Houston area. The build out of infrastructure related to Port Houston has created an abundance of marine and warehousing work. We also continue to see activity stemming from petrochemical facilities due to lower energy costs related to natural gas production.”

While the design team handled the office and yard space, along with building specs, it deferred to Mixer Systems on the best approach to positioning the batch plant under roof, in close proximity to two production bays, and at a point easing transfer of aggregates loaded in outside bins. In the transition, Mixer Systems expanded equipment originally delivered in 2014 such that three 40-ton bins replaced two 30-ton bins, and the mixer stand was raised 15 feet so it could reach buckets from 50- or 10-ton overhead cranes. Cement storage was maintained in the move of the original 350- and 270-bbl silos. Locke Solutions has standardized self-consolidating mixes for production economy, along with finished structure quality and appearance.

TEAM WORK

Management strives for culture and vibe that make Locke Solutions an attractive place to work; well-appointed cafeteria and break rooms in the new location, along with a diverse workforce, attest as much. “Keeping a good culture in place is always a challenge, especially when you experience the growth in personnel that we have over the last couple of years,” Kazmann observes. “Our team members are easily our biggest differentiator in the industry and they are the ones who have helped us get to this point. We have seen the same challenges in hiring as the rest of the industry, and are fortunate to have brought in the majority of our people through internal employee referrals.” A motivated workforce that can assimilate new team members has Locke Solutions poised to continue building out its new home and advancing precast concrete methods in one of the country’s most fertile grounds for construction.

Locke Solutions built the office and plant with the aim of showing a) customers how precast concrete has climbed on the construction value chain; and b) employees that they have a safe, efficient place to work plus a comfortable spot for a breather.