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Village of Glen Ellyn Uses Ozinga Concrete Blocks to Create Custom Storage Solution

June 6, 2019

Imagine in mid-winter the municipality you manage runs out of road salt and you are at the mercy of supplier stock levels and peak season market prices. For Julius Hansen, director of public works for the Village of Glen Ellyn, running out of salt is not an option. The Village needs at least 2,000 tons a year to keep their streets and sidewalks safe. Paying for extra salt in the middle of winter can be costly, not to mention the costs associated with building a new dome to house the additional salt inventory.

The Village recently acquired the old DuPage County Forest Preserve fleet maintenance building for their new salt storage headquarters. This new facility can hold nearly twice as much inventory as their old building. After working with Ozinga last year on a project using jumbo concrete blocks, the Village reached out again when they needed to build interior structural support to hold their additional salt supply.

Consulting engineers didn’t want the older existing walls to bear the weight of the salt piles which could result in a structural failure. Pouring a support wall from scratch would’ve added additional costs.

Hansen worked with Ozinga to figure out which blocks would work best for his project and how many he would need to create the perfect interior wall. Village workers created the design themselves, accounting for the indoor height restriction, and had everything finished in a little over a week.

The Village used an assortment of 200 4x4x4, 2x4x4, and 2x2x6 concrete blocks to create a custom barrier that cost less than designing and pouring a new wall. By revamping the building and outfitting it to their needs, the Village saved money and created a solution that was much easier than building a costly dome.

“Having the foresight to predict potential problems and stay fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ dollars are crucial,” said Hansen. “By repurposing both leftover concrete and building space, we settled on a green, cost-effective solution.”

When Glen Ellyn streets are covered once again in ice and snow this winter, the Village will be ready with all the salt they need. “We have a winter emergency supply now, that’s something we’ve never had before,” added Hansen. “Keeping the citizens of Glen Ellyn safe is of utmost importance.”

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Did you know Ozinga is a terminal operator for large quantities of bulk road salt? We’ll handle hundreds of thousands of tons this year alone. As a terminal operator, we can ensure your salt supply is safe and manage your inventory with our state-of-the-art technology.

Once your salt arrives via barge, we accurately measure the weight to be sure you got what you paid for. We also shape your salt pile and methodically check the load to be sure your order is safe from the elements.

Don’t have room to store your bulk road salt but want to be sure it’s safe and properly inventoried? We can help. Our three locations in Lemont, South Chicago, and Calumet Park are completely secure and outfitted with cameras that record all entrances and exits. Our inventory system also allows you to keep track of how much salt we’ve loaded and unloaded for you and how much you have available to sell.

We also use concrete pads to store your bulk road salt. Concrete pads decrease inventory loss while also providing an environmentally safer option than permeable alternatives.

Our transloading capabilities allow us to manage your order from start to finish. We’re a one-stop shop with extensive logistics services from barge transportation and fleeting to loading and unloading. We can also deliver your bulk road salt to your customers using our network of haulers, giving you peace of mind and saving you time by providing every service you could need from one company.

Don’t need long-term storage? We have nine river terminals from Peoria to Chicago that can transload your salt from barge to truck and deliver to your preferred storage location or end customer.

Ozinga is miles ahead of other terminals in terms of the technology and safety we can offer you and your customers. Learn more about our bulk road salt and other offerings.

Although summer has just officially started, it’s never a bad idea to start planning for the materials you’ll need during the winter. For those municipalities and companies located in places where cold and snow are in the forecast, planning for your bulk road salt supply now could help you stay ahead of the game. If you will be needing road salt this winter, use these tips to ensure you have a supply.

PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

Unfortunately we don’t have a crystal ball that allows us to see into the future and predict this winter’s weather conditions. However, that doesn’t mean you should try to wing your quantities when it comes to road salt. Instead, plan accordingly by looking at any inventory you may have left over from last winter as well as how much you tend to go through, on average. This will give you a better estimate into how much you’ll likely need so you can make a purchase that makes sense.

SHOP EARLY.

Starting to shop for road salt now will provide you with plenty of benefits.

  • Cost: Getting your hands on a road salt supply now can provide you with a lower price point than if you’re looking for the material during peak winter season.
  • Storage: Finding a place to store your bulk salt could be tricky after the weather has turned, but shopping early lets you find adequate storage space near your location without any hassle.
  • Accessibility: Road salt doesn’t grow on trees, which means it may not always be accessible. Last year, for instance, some Midwest markets saw a constrained supply, and due to harsh weather conditions in the East, a lot of the supply was diverted to those locations. Some supply chains continue to be disrupted this year, so sourcing early can help you access the supply you need.

WORK WITH A TRUSTED VENDOR.

A quick Google search will prove there are plenty of bulk road salt suppliers out there, but that doesn’t mean you should blindly choose one. Instead, be sure to work with a trusted vendor to help you source, store, and supply the road salt you need. This provides a one-stop shop, which could create a savings for you in the long run.

Ozinga Materials & Logistics has access to bulk road salt and other aggregates and building materials. If you’re interested in a quote, contact our sales team today.

Ozinga’s Spring Kickoff events started Monday at Notre Dame, and today the fun continues at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Wisconsin. Like Monday’s event, today’s celebration will be a chance for Ozinga coworkers to join together to celebrate our accomplishments and look towards the future. Plus, we’ll honor those coworkers who have been a part of the industry for many years and take a look at some of the innovation we have up our sleeves.

Ozinga is proud of our Wisconsin operations. We entered the Wisconsin market in 2014 and have grown significantly over the past few years. In addition to our ready-mix concrete plants, we also have materials and logistics operations throughout the state as well, helping companies to source and supply aggregates and other materials.

We like to think our products and services have helped build Wisconsin, and we’re lucky to have been a part of some great projects like the new IKEA warehouse, Franklin Middle School, Northwest Mutual Tower, 7Seventy7 Building, U-Line Corporate Office and Warehouse, and so many more.

We’re excited to celebrate with our Wisconsin coworkers today and look forward to the other Spring Kickoff events taking place next week. If you’d like an inside scoop on Ozinga Spring Kickoffs, be sure to keep your eye out for a livestream event happening later this month.