Innovation and Quality
Concrete Pipe and Precast
Exceptional products, service, and experience: three things customers can expect to receive from Concrete Pipe & Precast. And as an esteemed supplier of precast concrete pipe and structures in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions, CP&P works with its customers to develop unique and innovative products.
CP&P has roots in more than 30 different companies – many of them family-owned and dating back to 1926 – and prides itself on having done an excellent job of blending different backgrounds and cultures into one cohesive family.
“We’ve taken all of our different names of predecessors and are now bound together as CP&P,” says recently appointed CEO John Blankenship. “Our history really does come from a lot of other companies, but we’re extremely proud of the fact that we’ve been able to bring everybody together under one name, a set of strong core values, and a clear commitment statement.”
As part of the ACPA (American Concrete Pipe Association), CP&P is extremely proud to focus on both quality and safety in the daily workings of the company. Blankenship believes much of CP&P’s success comes from the company’s desire to include innovation whenever and wherever possible.
Still developing, still innovating
The CP&P team brings innovation to all areas of the company. Examples include their ability to develop unique solutions to customer problems, their decision to build the PERFECT plant – the only fully automated manhole plant in North America, and their commitment to develop an innovative internal computer system for tracking and business processes.
“When it comes to innovation we are problem solvers. We pride ourselves on having extensive experience and we thrive on finding solutions to help our customers,” says Blankenship. “We get a lot of customers that want us to create a product that meets their specific need. It adds value for our customer, and we do it all the time so it’s become almost routine. Most other companies don’t have the ability to do that. We really have good people with a lot of skill and knowledge.”
The test of time
Concrete is a strong, resilient material, he says, and the benefits of using concrete stand the test of time.
“We capitalize on providing these long-lasting benefits, while finding new ways to provide solutions both to our immediate customers and to the end users of our products and services,” says Blankenship.
Blankenship explains that when it comes to quality, customers expect and deserve a platinum grade product, excellent customer service, and an unforgettably pleasant experience, the same things that we as consumers look for when deciding who to give our business to.
“We must remember that our customers are looking for the same excellent service that we desire,” Blankenship says. “When our customers need manufactured concrete products, we want them to think of Concrete Pipe & Precast first and only.”
Quality is built in
CP&P prioritizes quality through a dedicated senior manager whose responsibility it is to drive the Platinum Quality program. This could not be done without a team of 25 quality-control managers and technicians working in the plants. Additionally, all QC managers and technicians are certified by ANSI accredited industry national organizations, as well as the departments of transportation in the states in which they work as well as the states to which their products are shipped.
Certifications require attendance at multi-day classes and exams, as well as on-line training and exams, says Blankenship. CP&P also publishes a Weekly Quality Message that is used as the basis for weekly Quality Meetings and Tool Box Talks at each plant, run by the local QC manager/technicians.
“Because we’ve come from a lot of different companies, CP&P has an abundance of experience,” says Blankenship. “From our sales folks to our engineering personnel to our plant operators, we are blessed with strong people carrying a great deal of experience and skill. We naturally merge innovation with problem solving. We do so every day to meet the needs of our customers. We’ve learned a lot over the years; we know what we’re good at and we try to continue excelling in those areas.”
All of CP&P plants are quality certified by either the National Precast Concrete Association or the American Concrete Pipe Association through their individual quality programs. The company also has an extensive detailed corrective action process for tracking customer issues allowing for accountability and responsible follow-up, to ensure customer satisfaction, and to allow for evaluation processes.
Safety at the core
Safety is an area of high priority at CP&P, and considered to be its first core value from the top down. With numerous prestigious awards under its belt, the company prides itself on impressing the importance of safety from production to sales and corporate management.
“We do a significant amount of internal safety recognition for our employees,” says Blankenship. “Every month each plant knows where they stand statistically. We have a very strong auditing program at each of our plants, and we perform cross-plant audits as well. We execute safety audits constantly throughout each month and we record those, track them, and then discuss them. Safety is our number-one priority at CP&P.”
CP&P has a safety slogan: “See something, say something.” This means that ANY employee who perceives a safety issue has the authority to stop work and take action. This engages all employees and empowers everyone to audit, fix, and improve safety.
“But safety isn’t just a saying,” Blankenship continues. “We have worked hard to weave safety into the fabric of our daily life at CP&P. It’s not just my responsibility or that of our safety director; it’s to be the focus and responsibility of everybody in our company every minute of every day. Safety is always at the forefront of every conversation we have.”
Creating a safe work culture isn’t easy and takes commitment from everyone on the team, he says. CP&P doesn’t just drive its safety program, it wants employees to believe that working and being safe is a way of life and to feel empowered and encouraged not only to identify safety issues, but to help correct them.
Guardian Eagle is the cornerstone of CP&P’s behavior-based safety program. It sets the tone and aligns everyone to the same goals. The Guardian Eagle program can be applied to all work tasks. Three simple rules help employees keep their personal safety first throughout each job task: What am I about to do? What can cause me harm? What am I going to do about it?
“Our goal is zero harm to our employees. To achieve that, we deem it essential to create a culture where safety doesn’t play second fiddle to anything,” says Blankenship. “Our culture of safety requires everyone at every level of our organization to play a big part.”
Other goals for the next few years include completing the roll-out of the new ERP system, Titan, which has been challenging, but incredibly successful so far.
“Our ERP improvement gives us better visibility to all our plants,” says Blankenship. “We do an enormous amount of coordinating between our plants to ensure we service our customer better. We’re very well positioned to do that in Virginia and Maryland, and somewhat in the Carolinas as well. So that’s an advantage we have with our plant locations in our footprint.”
CP&P’s commitment to improving its internal service is a continual process with customers in mind, where service is always top priority, and where meeting customer needs is essential.
“We put the customer first. We are constantly working to improve communication with our customers, and we find the biggest part of improving is keeping them informed and helping them succeed in projects as a partner,” says Blankenship.
“Our teams of project managers, project technicians, coordinators, and schedulers really get the job done, and all the work that they do to make sure we’re on time and on schedule with our customers is very much appreciated.”
The employees that make those around them better make all the difference, says Blankenship, who believes respect and equality within the company is key.
When asked about the corporate culture, he says, “I think we’re all the same, I really do.” “Everybody in the plant is just as important as I am and vice-versa. We’re a team. Each one of these roles is important to the end game, and we look after each other. It’s important that we have this family environment and have employees that feel like they own the company. We treat all of our employees and all of our customers as if they were family, so that’s important.”
Blankenship says his extensive experience has helped him and made things easier for him, but at the end of the day it’s the rest of the team who are really the important ones.
“The team that we have is what makes us strong. We are constantly training and it has become a key ingredient for internal success; we make available opportunities for our people to learn new things and move up in areas where they have a passion.”
That focus on training and continual growth surely makes success down the road for CP&P’s future endeavors very likely indeed. Especially as it includes an entire company embracing a commitment statement, and coming together as one in their attitude toward customer service.