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4 Reasons Ozinga Excels at Concrete Blocks

March 18, 2019

Concrete blocks can play a vital role in various operations. Standard concrete blocks are useful for creating barriers to aid in traffic control or storage bins to store salt, landscaping materials, aggregates, or other bulk materials. Larger concrete blocks can also provide added levels of security. In addition, decorative concrete blocks can aesthetically enhance an operation. Aside from the basic functionality and uses of concrete blocks, these products deliver a variety of benefits. Read how Ozinga can help with any block rental, purchase, or need.

AVAILABILITY AND SERVICE

We boast a bevy of block-producing plants throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana, so we’re sure to have a location nearby saving time and money. A wide range of block sizes are inventoried at each location providing a quick 24-48 hour turnaround. Not able to pick up ordered blocks? Using our vast network of hauling capabilities, we can arrange to deliver them directly to you or any site.

DESIGN FLEXIBILITY

Unique to Ozinga are corner blocks. The benefit of using these adds a locking strength to façades, bin wing walls and retaining systems through a T-lock design. Ozinga maintains a variety of concrete block shapes and sizes which provides more flexibility in design, type of work or application. This includes caps, stamped blocks and even parking bumpers. We have decorative options as well to help increase the aesthetics of a business. We can even customize a block specifically to match any color or design.

EXCEPTIONAL QUALITY

At Ozinga, we put great care into concrete block production. We proactively make concrete blocks on a daily basis focusing on delivering clean, straight edges that will give the desired professional look. Our concrete blocks are sustainable—made from 100% high-quality recycled Ozinga concrete—and are poured, finished and loaded by the Ozinga team. The 3,000 – 4,000 psi rating our blocks maintain means long-lasting durability.

SPACE AND APPEARANCE MATTER

Organizing space or products using concrete blocks ensures there is a place for everything resulting in access to real estate previously unusable. This could allow for an increase in operational capacity improving the bottom line.

Using concrete blocks to store your materials, use as a retaining wall, or provide added security presents a clean, organized and professional look. This appearance shows a focus on quality which effects customer perception and distinction from the competition.

Contact our knowledgeable and friendly concrete block experts to create the block, parking bumper, or bin design desired.

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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.”

Ozinga has been around for a long time. One of the reasons we’ve been able to thrive year after year as a fourth-generation, family owned company is by investing in our people and the technology we use every day to make sure we’re pushing the boundaries of the construction materials and logistics industry.

The technology we use in our ready-mix dispatch has changed drastically over the years, as our coworkers can attest to. Barb Robertson, who currently works in our Inside Sales Department, joined Ozinga’s dispatch team in 1985 and she provided an overview of our technological capabilities that she witnessed firsthand in the early 1990s.

In 1992, we were moving away from pen and paper and began using computers to enter orders. We only had two IT techs at the time, so if there was an issue with software or other computer problems, Barb became the go-to technology expert who was responsible for phoning our off-site helpline in Alabama.

“I wasn’t a programmer. I wasn’t an IT person. The guy (from the off-site helpline in Alabama) would talk me through it. . . I would get it running and be the hero,” Barb said.

We now have programs that can pinpoint a truck’s exact location from pickup, to delivery, to pour, but back in the 1990s we had a huge magnetic board with rectangles to represent each truck on the delivery schedule. Our dispatchers would make an educated guess about where the truck was at any given time, but it was by no means an exact science.

The same was true for figuring out the best route to reach our customers. Barb created a spreadsheet that listed the approximate travel times from each of our plants to popular delivery destinations. “We didn’t have Track Your Truck, we didn’t have Google Maps, it cracks me up when I think about it,” Barb added. Today, we have sophisticated GPS systems that allow drivers and dispatchers to track construction zones, truck-friendly routes, and bad weather.

Figuring out how much concrete a customer needed was also a lot trickier. Dispatchers used a tool called a slide rule to figure out how many cubic yards a customer needed to order based on the dimensions of their project and how thick they wanted the concrete to be. Nowadays, it’s as simple as pressing F8 on your computer and using our concrete calculator to work out the amount in a matter of seconds. Customers can even use the calculator on our website.

In our materials and logistics operation, we’re making technological strides as well.

Last year we implemented an RFID reader at one of our yards that automatically links a driver’s truck to their designated order number and allows them to check-in and confirm their order at a kiosk without contacting dispatch at all.

We’re always trying to find smarter, more efficient ways to help us work together with our coworkers and make everyone’s job easier, while providing our customers with quality service.

Curious what it’s like to be an Ozinga dispatcher? Check out the day in the life video.

Concrete is everywhere. Its resiliency and relatively low maintenance requirements coupled with its affordability and ability to resist the elements makes it a popular choice for construction projects large and small. Read on to find out how concrete is used throughout the United States.

Did you know that concrete is the second most consumed substance in the world behind water? In fact, the global ready-mix concrete market was valued at nearly $416 billion in 2018, while the value of ready-mix concrete produced in the U.S. is estimated at $35 billion.

What’s more, the ready-mix concrete industry consumes about 75% of the cement shipped in the U.S. Cement, along with sand, stone, and water are combined to create ready-mix concrete. In 2017 alone, the U.S. produced 86.3 million metric tons of cement!

How do we move and produce all that concrete? There are currently around 5,500 ready-mix concrete plants throughout the United States and 55,000 ready-mix concrete trucks in U.S. moving the versatile material from plant to customer.

Learn more about concrete’s use and impact in the infographic below.

Natural disasters can occur anywhere at any time. Whether fire, hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster, nothing protects your home like concrete.

CONCRETE AND HURRICANES

In 2018, 22 major hurricanes touched land around the Northern Hemisphere and the Congressional Budget Office estimates that hurricanes cause $28 billion in damage a year. And according to a National Geographic report, 2017 marked the most expensive hurricane season in U. S. history. If you’re looking for a way to protect your family and treasured possessions, concrete is the way to go.

Concrete can withstand high winds and crashing rain. During Hurricane Michael earlier this year, a reinforced concrete home in Mexico Beach, Florida, was one of the only homes still standing after the Category 4 storm. Building with concrete is known as hazard mitigation—using stronger, more resilient building techniques to prevent property damage and save money over the building’s lifecycle.

CONCRETE AND FIRES

Since January 1, 2018, a total of 6,273 wildfires have burned 876,131 acres in California alone. Luckily, concrete can withstand heat up to 1,000 degrees. Concrete ingredients like cement and aggregate are virtually non-combustible, plus, concrete’s slow rate of heat transfer means your home and possessions are protected from flames and intense heat.

CONCRETE AND TORNADOES

While it’s difficult to make a truly tornado-proof home, concrete is still your best bet. Insulated concrete form (ICF) is cast in place concrete that results in a much stronger and more efficient structure. ICFs can withstand winds up to 250 mph. The most catastrophic tornadoes sometimes reach upwards of 300 mph, but the average wind funnel only reaches 112 mph or less (Live Science).

While you can’t plan for every possible disaster, concrete will give you the peace of mind that your home may still be standing in the aftermath of most hurricanes, fires, or tornadoes. If you’re shopping for a new home or are having one built, consider the advantages of using concrete versus other materials.

World of Concrete (WOC), an annual event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry industries, is coming up soon. If you’re still on the fence about attending, here are a few reasons you can’t miss this event.

NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES

WOC boasts more than 1,500 exhibiting companies and 58,000 registered industry professionals in more than 745,000 net square feet of exhibit space. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with concrete and masonry experts at the world’s largest annual event dedicated to our industries.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

Brimming with skill-building workshops and management seminars, you’ll find everything you need to improve your business and/or increase your knowledge of the concepts and products that will be important to the future of the concrete industry. A special draw this year is the first-ever Concrete Start-Up Zone. Participants will present technologies, equipment, and materials that have yet to be commercially introduced into the market, including NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge.

CONCRETE INDUSTRY MANAGEMENT AUCTION

The Concrete Industry Management (CIM) Auction is CIM’s largest source of funding. Last year’s auction was the most profitable ever, netting $1.1 million in gross revenue. The auction directly supports the CIM program that awards students with a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Concrete Industry Management.

This year’s auction will take place on Wednesday, January 23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. A silent auction will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., followed by the live auction at 1 p.m. Even if you aren’t attending in person, you can still bid on loads of items online, including Ozinga’s donation—a sports weekend for four that includes Bulls and Blackhawks tickets, airfare, hotel accommodations, and a meal allowance. View the auction items and find out how to bid online and in-person.

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Concrete is more than just a foundation for a home or a sidewalk for a neighborhood. In fact, concrete has a very impressive history that dates back to 6500 BC—and that’s just based on what has been recorded. From concrete structures built by the Nabataea traders to the first ever 3D printed concrete building in Dubai, explore the evolution of concrete and see how truly impressive this building material is.

This evolution is just the beginning too. New concrete products are being discovered often, and Ozinga’s research and development lab is helping to fuel this innovation. We are excited to push the boundaries of the construction industry and be a part of the concrete story.