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Concrete Parking Lots Are a Safe Bet

April 30, 2019

Customer and/or employee safety is extremely important to a business’ bottom line. And while you’re sure to address safety concerns inside the building, you might not give as much thought to parking lot safety, other than providing adequate lighting. Concrete is known for its durability and versatility, but did you know it can also help keep you and your coworkers/customers safe?

Concrete is less likely to deteriorate or break compared to other paving options. Asphalt in particular has a more flexible consistency that can deteriorate more quickly. Concrete’s durability also means it’s less likely to develop potholes, and unlike other paving alternatives it’s devoid of toxic runoff—making your parking lot safer for customers.

Concrete parking lots also require little to no maintenance throughout the life of the lot, so your customers don’t have to navigate construction equipment during upgrades. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about loss of business when the lot is closed for repairs.

Concrete parking lots are a lot less likely to develop rutting (grooves in the lot caused by the passage of vehicles over time) or potholes where water is likely to pool in warm weather or turn to ice in colder temps. Both of which could lead to costly slipping hazards and serious injuries.

Concrete’s smooth, reflective surface also makes for safer parking lots. It’s lighter than other paving options, resulting in brighter lots that keep drivers and pedestrians safer. A brighter lot increases driver visibility and can save you upwards of 60 percent in energy costs.

Concrete lots show your customers you’re serious about their safety and save you money in the long run.

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Painting Easter eggs is always a fun tradition. Here’s how Ozinga put a unique twist on the celebration at Daystar School in Chicago.

Due to its durability and low maintenance requirements, concrete is an excellent choice for driveways, roads, and especially parking lots. However, the industry notion that concrete is far more expensive than other pavements isn’t necessarily true. Designed properly and early enough in the project, concrete pavements can be very price competitive upfront.

Low to no Maintenance Costs

Compared to other alternative paving options, concrete has little to no maintenance costs during its lifespan. Periodic resealing with the proper product can extend the service life of your concrete pavement even longer. Less maintenance throughout the life of the lot also means less impact to the building tenant.


Concrete can last decades longer than other paving alternatives. A concrete parking lot or driveway can withstand wear and tear for 30-40 years. The upfront investment you make in concrete will more than pay you back when you can go years without replacing or repairing.

Decreased Energy Costs

Concrete is much brighter than other paving alternatives, which will require less outdoor lighting—saving you electricity costs. The lighter color also results in a reduced heat island effect in large parking lots—so you can also save money on energy costs since you’ll spend less on air conditioning. Darker paving alternatives absorb heat during the day and release it after the sun goes down, increasing the temperature of the parking lot and surrounding buildings during summer months. Concrete’s lighter color reduces this problem.

Concrete’s competitive price point offers myriad benefits you’ll enjoy for the next 30-40 years. Check out the infographic below to learn more about concrete benefits.

Our company prides itself on the investment we make in our people, starting with the very first day of employment. Every Monday at Ozinga, we have a day-long onboarding session for new coworkers. During this experience, new coworkers are not only set up with all the administrative aspects of starting their career with us, but also learn about the values and history of our company in a personal and engaging way. Someone from the Ozinga family, often from the third and fourth generation of ownership, meets and talks with the new coworkers to share stories, discuss our future and answer questions. For me, this opportunity is one of the highlights of my week. I find it holds me accountable to see the new faces of our coworkers, look them in the eye, and share with them our commitment as a family.

The following are seven key points I share during onboarding:

  • Thank you and welcome. We know you have a choice of where you can work, particularly when the economic environment allows for such low unemployment. We’re thankful that you chose to come to work with us. Welcome aboard!
  • We’re different because you’re here. In a world of 7.5 billion people, there is only one you. You have unique talents, life experiences, work history and relationships. You have something unique to contribute to this company that only you bring. So not only are we different because you are here, we have new potential that we didn’t have before you arrived…and that is very exciting for us.
  • Here to stay. We are a 91-year-old, fourth-generation American family business. Our desire, Lord willing, is to stay in operation as a family business for another 91+ years. We have no interest in selling out. Rather, our goal is to provide a lasting impact in the lives of our coworkers, customers and communities for generations. Our commitment to you is that as we have success, we will reinvest in you, in equipment and facilities to better serve our customers and serve as a good partner in our local communities. It’s what we love to do.
  • We’re in this together. We are all the beneficiaries of those who have gone before us. We view ourselves as stewards or torch-bearers of the business for a finite period of time. We invite all our coworkers to share that vision as co-stewards with us. It is our desire to pass the torch to the next generation, leaving everything better than when we were entrusted with it. Business can be a force for great good in the world, impacting families and communities in a positive way. Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to leave a legacy that will positively impact future generations of people and the trajectory of our world.
  • We have room for improvement. This company may look like a well-oiled machine from the outside looking in, but once the “new” wears off it is certain you will find opportunities for improvement and change. In fact, because you are unique, you may see things that no one else sees. This is a good thing. Every day we want to get a little bit better than yesterday. With your help, we can do that.
  • You’re joining a great company in a great industry at a great time. Ozinga has established itself as a leader in our industry. This is because of our people. The building materials industry is a very exciting, dynamic, local relationship-focused one. No day is the same. It will be challenging and very rewarding for those who take great pride in it. It is a great time to join and the future is full of potential.
  • Be safe. We know behind every person, every coworker on our team, there are loved ones who count on them. We want to make sure all our people go home at night to them without accident or injury. Safety is a team effort that requires every individual to be aware of their surroundings, to make decisions thoughtfully and to err on the side of safety. As you join the Ozinga family of coworkers, if you ever see something that gives you pause, make sure to take the time to make the necessary and proper precautions. We appreciate each and every one of you – for choosing us, for bringing your unique skills and talents to our team, for helping us to constantly improve – and we want all of you to be safe so that we can continue that work together every day.

I like to believe that this time in our onboarding process helps us stand out from other companies because it shows we take the time to invest in our people and treat them as a part of the Ozinga family. And while I provide guidance and touch on these seven things during my talks with our new coworkers, I know that face-to-face time is equally valuable for me and for Ozinga – listening to and learning from each of our new coworkers, helping us to continue to push the boundaries.

Insulated concrete forms (ICFs) have been growing in popularity since the 1970s and with the threat of drastic weather events they’re likely to become more widely used. While insulated concrete forms have a higher initial cost, the myriad benefits they offer far outweigh their increased price point.

ICFs are made using two layers of insulation material with concrete poured directly into the form between them. These forms also allow for traditional finishes to be placed on the surface, resulting in a structure with thick concrete walls that maintains the appearance of a traditional home.

“A lot of ready mix producers just don’t see the value in it (ICFs),” said Brian Lutey, VP of Sustainability and Compliance at Ozinga. “But with a typical house you’re lucky if you get 200 yards of concrete. You can double that or triple that with an ICF house.”

They may seem difficult to install, but ICF construction is a snap. The lightweight forms interlock quickly like large LEGO blocks, saving time and money during the construction process. While pouring concrete during very hot or cold days can be tricky, the insulation forms regulate the temperature during the pour process so ICFs can be installed at virtually anytime.

ICFs are soundproof and energy efficient. They can stop air from infiltrating the structure and keep the temperature steady, resulting in lower energy bills.

“The cost of energy is going to continue to go up steeply,” added Lutey. “And with these homes we can cut the energy costs for the homeowner by 30-50 percent—and that’s forever. That’s huge.”

ICF buildings can also cost less to insure since they can withstand or resist fire, wind, and earthquakes, and require zero maintenance throughout the life of the structure.

Along with ICFs, Ozinga offers a variety of sustainable concrete solutions.

The BuiltWorlds Buildings 2.0 Conference took place this past week at UI Labs in Chicago. Ozinga co-sponsored the event, dedicated to exploring the intelligence of high-performance buildings.

Real estate executives, architects, engineers, construction professionals, and tech experts came together to network and learn about the promising future of Buildings 2.0. Attendees were treated to keynote addresses and fireside chats about innovative building materials, emerging tech in the multi-family real estate space, and new horizons in the world of distribution.

The conference also included a kick-off reception where BuiltWorlds’ Building Tech 50 winners were recognized. Honorees included ThoughtWire, Polysolar, BamCore, SkyCentrics, Emagispace, Sensus, EverCharge, and SolarCity to name a few.

The Tech 50 list features leading companies in the smart buildings landscape, with each offering innovative solutions in the areas of asset management, building envelopes, high performance materials, HVAC and energy systems, interiors, lighting, mobility, roof systems, tenant services, and water systems.

In between meetings, conference-goers could also visit several exhibitors on the showroom floor. Ozinga had a booth onsite, as well as HelixRE, ICONICS, SFS, and the American Institute of Steel Construction.

Eric Lindquist, PE President of Adjustable Forms Concrete Construction, along with Matthew Nazarenko with GCP – Verifi both participated in panel discussions during the conference and mentioned their work with Ozinga on developing new concrete mixes and technologies.

Thanks to all who attended the Buildings 2.0 Conference and chatted with us at our booth!

Safety is a number one priority at Ozinga, so we’re passionate about keeping our vehicles in prime running condition to protect our drivers and get our customers what they need in a timely fashion. To that end, we’ve recently introduced Digital Fleet’s electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) system at several of our Wisconsin, Florida, and Illinois plants to help identify vehicle operation and safety issues.

In September 2018, Digital Fleet released a software update that included the electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports system. EDVIR allow drivers to complete and submit daily vehicle inspections via an in-vehicle tablet. The device electronically details pre-trip and post-trip inspections and sends a digital report directly to a mechanic’s email address.

“Customers were asking for the ability to capture vehicle inspection reports electronically—we listened and delivered,” said Tim Oakes, Digital Fleet President. “Using Digital Fleet allows our customers to see real-time information as it’s submitted by drivers; those issues can then be easily prioritized and worked on in an efficient manner.”

Ozinga used to track vehicle inspections and maintenance requests with a paper form. Drivers would conduct vehicle inspections and submit the paper form to the mechanic, but storing the forms for so many trucks became a logistical nightmare.

“Some of them (paper forms) get lost, they get wet, they get damaged . . . which is why doing it electronically like this is so important,” said Robert Davidsen, Mobile Device Supervisor at Ozinga.

The system is especially handy for Ozinga yards that don’t have a mechanic on-site. Now when their vehicles need maintenance, a mechanic is automatically notified once the driver fills out the EDVIR, and the vehicle can be fixed sooner.

“The big thing is it allows for two-way communication between drivers and mechanics,” added Davidsen. “And it keeps our records DOT-compliant.”

We hope to have the EDVIR system fully rolled out at all Ozinga locations by June 2019.

Let’s take a trip back into time to the late 1950s when gas was 30 cents a gallon, The Bridge on the River Kwai, South Pacific, and Ben Hur reigned at the box office, and Ozinga had only recently abandoned coal production and entered the concrete business.

At 95th Street and Troy Avenue in Evergreen Park stood a marvel of advertising technology: a 20-foot, double-sided backlit marquee sign. But instead of advertising sand, stone, or bags of cement, Martin Ozinga Jr. decided to use the marquee to showcase words of wisdom that caught people’s attention or made them think. “The idea of a marquee sign was kind of a new concept then. Of course there were no electronic message boards like we have now,” said Martin Ozinga III, former Ozinga president and current chairman of the board.

Eight to nine-inch plastic letters equipped with grooves to hook onto the sign’s metal bars were used to spell out homespun sayings that might inspire or put a smile on the faces of potential customers driving past the sign, including the gems below:

  • “The best thing you can spend on your children is time”
  • “One thing you can give and still keep is your word”
  • “You can’t win by trying to even the score”

One memorable update featured the message, “Don’t you dare look at the other side of this sign” on one side, with the other side bearing the old adage “Curiosity killed the cat.” Both sides of the sign were updated at least once a week, and it was a painstaking two-hour process where a 15-foot pole with a tweezer grip was used to remove the old letters and update both sides with new phrases.

The sign was an immediate hit. So much so that when Ozinga relocated its headquarters to 127th Street in Alsip, Illinois, in 1961, a new sign topped with the iconic red and white Ozinga truck was erected outside the new location. Throughout the years, the sign was updated with hundreds of sayings.

While the legendary Alsip location closed in 1996, we kept a record of all the sayings that ever appeared on the signs and we’re still using them to inspire our coworkers and visitors!

Each month, our graphic design team pairs several sayings with corresponding images that are then shared on our intranet, on TV screens throughout our office locations, and on our social media pages. At Ozinga we treasure our company’s history and the continued influence of previous Ozinga generations.

Ozinga has expanded CarbonCure technology to additional ready-mix yards this month. Mokena, Illinois, Montgomery, Illinois, and Kenosha, Wisconsin are now equipped with CarbonCure capabilities. CarbonCure technology was previously installed at Ozinga’s Chicago locations and used in McDonald’s flagship store.

CarbonCure technology introduces recycled carbon dioxide gas generated by an ethanol plant in Wisconsin and injects it into Ozinga’s concrete in order to improve its compressive strength and significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

CarbonCure’s innovative systems are easily installed at Ozinga yards and introduce recycled carbon dioxide (CO2) into the concrete mix during mixing. When introduced, the CO2 becomes chemically converted into a solid mineral, leaving the CO2 permanently trapped within the concrete. The CO2 has no negative effect on the concrete’s appearance, durability, or strength. In fact, CarbonCure concrete is often stronger than concrete without CO2.

More than two million cubic yards of concrete made with recycled CO2 have been supplied to construction projects across North America.

The carbon utilization industry, which includes CarbonCure technology, is estimated to become a $1 trillion industry, and could reduce global greenhouse gases by as much as 15% by 2030.

While driver training is the norm in fleet management, Ozinga wants to ensure our mechanics are regularly trained as well. Our 80+ mechanics keep our fleets up and running and make sure our drivers reach our customers safely and on time, so it’s important they know how to maintain our vehicles and keep them in good working condition.

To keep them sharp, all Ozinga mechanics attend the annual Spring Training, now in its fourth year, to promote further education in their specialized field.

“The goal of our Spring Training is to give our technicians an opportunity to strengthen their skills and knowledge base and, in turn, help them improve their overall job performance,” said Jeff Bonnema, Ozinga’s Vice President of Fleet Management. “This falls in line with Ozinga’s commitment to investing in our people and initiating positive changes in the way we operate.”

Our technicians received service training with Fleet Coordinator Ed Jongsma, parts training with Lead Parts Specialist Nick Gorczynski, and Digital Fleet training with Mobile Device Supervisor Robert Davidsen. Warranty Administrator Areli Lopez provided an overview of warranty procedures and Regional Manager for Safety, Environmental, and Human Resources Justin Kratochvil provided a safety overview.

Vendors were also on-site offering suspension work training (Hendrickson) and an engine presentation (Cummins). Tredroc Tire Services explained proper tire safety procedures.

“With the rapidly changing technology in all of our equipment, it is important to train our technicians throughout the year,” said Jongsma. “The Spring Training allows the Fleet Department to start this process every year. With our viable resources we can expand our techs’ knowledge and skills to better themselves and the company as a whole.”