Construction Supplies & Services Firm Builds Up the Lone Star State

Oldcastle Materials Texas

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Oldcastle Materials Texas is one of the most prominent companies providing paving and construction services and supplies in the Lone Star state. The company operates five main brands: Wheeler, Texas Materials, Texas Concrete, TexasBit and Gulf Coast.
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Drive for a while in central Texas, and the chances are good that you will eventually travel on a roadway or past a building that has either been built by or made with supplies from Oldcastle Materials Texas.

The company’s customers can be found in the commercial, residential, and industrial sectors. It is “a little bit of everybody,” says Eric Bailey, president in central Texas for the Wheeler, Texas Materials and Texas Concrete brands. Overall, the firm’s work is “probably fifty-five percent public, forty-five percent private,” he says.

Oldcastle Materials Texas is a division of Oldcastle Materials, the North American arm of CRH plc, one of the leading building materials companies in the world. One of the largest vertically integrated companies in North America, Oldcastle Materials has over 1,200 locations in forty-three states and eight Canadian provinces. It is the top asphalt producer and paver, and the second largest ready-mix and aggregates producer in the U.S.

Of course, Oldcastle Materials Texas is a pretty extensive operation on its own. It has roughly forty-five offices, branches and sites across the state, and like its parent company, it is vertically integrated. Oldcastle Materials Texas currently employs about 1,200 people across all five brands, up from roughly 1,100 personnel last year at this time. The increase in staff stems from an uptick in business given the state’s robust economy.

Wheeler is headquartered out of Cedar Park, Texas, near Austin, and is the largest of the brands under the Oldcastle Materials Texas banner. Wheeler specializes in paving and construction work in central Texas, with a focus on roadways. It also supplies building materials.

On the public-sector side, TxDOT (the Texas Department of Transportation) is a big client. “We do city streets, county streets, subdivisions and TxDOT work,” says Bailey of the Wheeler brand.

Wheeler handles a variety of asphalt types, including specialty mixes, and its services include asphalt repair, traffic sign installations, crack filling, speed bump fittings, seal coating, and handicap ramp construction.

Texas Materials, also based in Cedar Park, operates asphalt and aggregate plants from Waco through San Antonio. This brand handles everything from hot mix asphalt to gravel, stone, coarse aggregate, fine aggregate, sand, base, and fill. The focus of Texas Materials is “selling materials both internally and externally, whether it’s to our own construction business or to an external customer,” says Bailey.

The Austin-based Texas Concrete division sells “ready-mix concrete to the greater Austin area,” he continues. Some of this is used for Oldcastle Materials Texas purposes while other ready-mix goes to external customers in the fast growing central Texas region. Ready-mix concrete from this brand is used in residential, commercial and heavy highway work.

TexasBit is “based out of Dallas and specializes in construction, asphalt paving, and asphalt production,” says Bailey. This brand operates in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex region and has been in existence, in one form or another, for more than one hundred years. Products provided include hot and cold asphalt mixes, as well as aggregates and recycled material.

The final division, Gulf Coast, has offices in Beaumont, Jasper and Houston, Texas and is similar to TexasBit in its areas of focus: asphalt production, asphalt paving, and some amount of roadway construction.

The Beaumont area is known for industrial development and commerce, with a significant demand for both construction services and materials. The Gulf Coast brand has done everything from large bridge construction to asphalt installations and pavement work and counts the City of Houston, area ports, TxDOT, and petrochemical companies as clients.

There are some natural overlaps and mutual support between brands within Oldcastle Materials Texas. Texas Materials, for example, supplies material for TexasBit and Gulf Coast, says Bailey.

Some of the brands that Oldcastle Materials Texas operates were originally independent companies that were purchased by the firm. While Oldcastle Materials Texas is always open to the possibility of acquiring new businesses, its current focus is on continuing to build all of its existing brands, strengthening its operations, earning repeat business with existing customers, and picking up new clients along the way.

Overall, however, Oldcastle Materials Texas works relatively independently, despite being part of a large parent company. The company does not, for example, provide workers for construction or paving jobs in other states. “This industry is a fairly local business, so you’re typically handling jobs with regional or local people,” says Bailey.

Within Texas, clients “choose to work with us for the quality of our products and the service we provide.” While Oldcastle Materials Texas has a quality department and quality benchmarks, maintaining high standards is “just as much about mindset and making sure that we focus on making the best product we can every single day,” states Bailey.

The company aims to focus as much as possible on sustainable construction and being stewards of the environment. “We try to push any green aspect we can as part of our commitment to our surrounding communities and the environment. We use warm mix asphalt to lower temperatures and reduce energy use. We try to incorporate recycled asphalt so that it gets used and reused in roadways and other projects,” he says.

As Oldcastle Materials Texas grows, it keeps specific criteria in mind for new hires. A team spirit and an appreciation for safety are particularly important. “Oldcastle is a great company to work for; safety in our line of business is of utmost importance and we make safety our family business. We put a lot of emphases on training and developing our talent pool.”

Referring to Oldcastle Materials Texas’ corporate culture, Bailey says, “I’d say overall, [the company is like] a family of families. Many of the acquisitions that we’ve done were family owned. As a result, many of our people really have an entrepreneurial spirit, which is a great asset in a business like ours.

“I think our biggest challenge continues to be on the people side, particularly finding and hiring drivers. With low unemployment statewide and a national shortage of CDL-qualified drivers, it can be challenging to find enough to serve the needs of our business. Given the growth of Texas, it is also difficult to find equipment operators and skilled laborers who want to work through the hot summers here.”

Given the nature of the work Oldcastle Materials Texas does and the equipment it uses, the intense focus on safety is understandable. “At the most basic level, safety is at the forefront of everything we do,” says Bailey. “Our employee engagement program requires all employees to participate in safety talks before every single shift, and we’ve rolled out a mentorship program to pair new employees with an experienced coworker so they can better understand our safety culture. We’ve also invested $7m in the AWARE program for traffic control, a radar-based safety system that helps us protect our employees in the work zone.”

Oldcastle Materials Texas has worked on some large infrastructure projects. The firm is supplying building materials for work on Interstate 35 and State Highway 183, for example.

“183 South is an expansion,” says Bailey. “It’s a big project we’re currently involved in, shipping materials every day. We’ve also been out on Interstate 35 from Waco to the Temple area. Some of those [projects] are still ongoing, some complete. Our ready-mix group also performs work on several high-rise buildings in downtown Austin.”

While Oldcastle Materials Texas is fairly decentralized, belonging to a larger firm does have major advantages. Being a statewide branch of a national and international leading building material company “gives you resources and support you wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Bailey.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 14, 2019, 11:01 AM EST