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Consumers Concrete plant, 1950s. Consumers Concrete plant, 1950s.

Sponsored Content: Local Ownership Key to Consumers Concrete’s Long History of Success

BY Jim Cupper, McCrosky Marketing Communications Sunday, October 30, 2016 09:20pm

Consumers Concrete Corporation traces its roots back to Consumers Sand & Gravel Company, which was founded in 1933 by Adrian and Richard Klepper. As was typical of many small businesses of the time, it was family owned and operated. That tradition continued when Adrian Klepper’s son-in-law, Don Thomas joined the company in the early 1940s. Over the next decade Thomas worked his way up, and by the 1950s, he was leading the company and continued in that capacity through the seventies.

Consumers Sand & Gravel Was a Leader in Implementation of New Technologies

Under Don Thomas’ leadership, the company became known not only as a leader in the quality of its products and customer service, but recognized the importance of new technologies and innovative products. In the fifties, Consumers was the first ready mix supplier to equip all its ready mix trucks with two-way radios to facilitate what is now known as a radio dispatching system. Instant communication between the truck and the ready mix plant enabled Consumers Sand & Gravel to quickly adjust to changes in customer schedules.

Innovations Improve Efficiency and Enhance Customer Service

The company continued to progress by being one of the first to switch to six-wheel drive trucks, and then later to front discharge trucks. This enhanced customer service by allowing ready mix trucks to get to sites previously inaccessible, and reduced pour times by allowing the driver to control the chutes and the flow of concrete without leaving the cab.

Consumers Concrete front-discharge ready mix truck.

Don Thomas’ son Tom joined the company in 1964 and his brother Steve came on board a year later. After honorably serving in the U.S. Army, the brothers returned to Consumers Sand & Gravel where they filled a number of roles, gaining valuable experience and learning all aspects of the business.

Meanwhile, the company continued to grow, expand and innovate. It was during the 1960s that Consumers Sand & Gravel purchased the Kalamazoo Cement Products Company to enable it to manufacture products that are complimentary to ready mix concrete. The block plant continues to operate today at its original location near the corner of Sprinkle Road and East Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo.

It was also during the 1960s when Consumers Sand & Gravel continued its propensity to innovate with the introduction of the first punch-card batching system for ready mix concrete in West Michigan. This enabled the company to ensure the accuracy of mix design and, ultimately, to enhance the quality and consistency of the product it delivered to its customers.

A New Generation of Leadership Spurs Growth and Expansion

In 1979 Tom and Steve Thomas assumed management of the company. With their leadership and the support of brothers Greg and Don, Consumers experienced a period of dramatic growth starting in 1983. It was also in 1983 that the company changed its name to Consumers Concrete Corporation to better reflect the company’s increasingly diverse line of products and services.

Don Thomas, Sr. and his four sons Tom, Steve, Greg and Don in the mid 1970s.

The company expanded not only its product offerings and technical capabilities, but its ready mix plants as well. To ensure timely deliveries to its customers, Consumers gradually expanded the number of strategically located ready mix plants, resulting in the total of 22 plants, which continue to serve customers throughout Western Michigan today.  Most recently, Consumers opened ready mix plants in Rockford, a second ready mix plant in Byron Center, and added a high-performance grinding system to their Wyoming block plant.

New Management Committed to Local Ownership

In 2016, Consumers announced the appointment of Bruce Blair as President and CEO. Blair brings over thirty years of experience in the concrete construction industry to his new position at the locally owned company. He is also the first non-family member to take the helm at the West Michigan company.

Pictured left to right: Steve Thomas, Bruce Blair and Tom Thomas.

While former CEO Tom Thomas and former President Steve Thomas have retired from the company’s day-to-day operations, they continue to provide input and strategic direction in their roles as Board Chairman and Vice Chairman respectively.

“Since our long-term goal is to continue to operate Consumers Concrete Corporation as a locally owned business, it was important that we facilitated the transition to the next generation by installing senior leadership with the knowledge, experience, and expertise necessary to maintain our leadership position in the Michigan markets we serve,” said Tom Thomas.

Today Consumers Concrete Corporation is widely recognized for its reputation for quality, customer service and innovative products. The company’s commitment to technology has resulted in the development of an industry-leading customer service and ready mix dispatch center. In addition, the company continues to add new branded products, including Artevia, Hydromedia, and Agilia to complement well-established brands such as Perma Grind, Bella Brik, Allan Block, Redi Rock, and Rockwood Retaining Walls.

The Consumers Concrete name has long been synonymous with integrity and honesty. “We have always worked hard to be sure we are fair and honest in all our dealings with our customers, our vendors and the people in the communities in which we operate,” said Tom Thomas.  “That means making sure we comply with all appropriate rules and regulations, whether federal, state or local.  Only then can we maintain the high level of trust that we have established over the last 83 years. And that’s never going to change,” Thomas concluded.

Consumers Concrete Corporation
(269) 342-0136

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