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Matthew Gladen: Designing and Manufacture Concrete Batch Plants and Feed Systems

We design and manufacture concrete batch plants and feed systems. The equipment we manufacturer is used by Ready Mix, Precast and other companies who are manufacturing large amounts of concrete for their own use or commercial sale.

Tell us about yourself?

My father, Roger Gladen has been working as an engineer for manufacturers of concrete plants most of his career. I was working in mortgage banking in 2008 when the economy went bad. Roger and I decided to start a dealer/distributorship focusing capital equipment needs of Ready Mix and Precast customers. In 2013 we began manufacturing bulk bag breaking systems and other small hoppers and conveyors. Now we sell ready mix, central mix and precast concrete plants of all sizes and capacities engineering and manufacturing them from our Milwaukee, WI factory.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Self recruit quality employees and pay them their worth. Temp agency employees come and go and have inconsistent quality at best. Focus on finding core group of people who care about the business and its product.

What problem does your business solve?

Our concrete plants are simple, accurate and fast. We offer customization to our plants using mostly standard components which helps us keep our equipment simple and affordable.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The opportunity presented itself. In 2013 as the economy started to pickup the manufacturers who would do lots of custom items before wanted to return to the equipment lines they focused on. As a result we took on some basic projects and for the first summer built our equipment in a parking lot outside of our office. By winter of that year we had a pipeline and secured our first actual manufacturing facility.

What is your magic sauce?

We are an approachable family business. As owners we engage with our customers regularly. We love to help startup companies enter the ready mix and precast concrete industries and know they will come back to us when they are successful. Having visited thousands of concrete plants across multiple countries we have seen some of the best and worst operations. We are a great source of information and love to share.

Some of our competitors are publicly traded companies and the customer experience stops at the sales manager and it becomes the customers responsibility to know exactly what they should be ordering.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We have a lot of growth ahead of us. Most of our competitors are 3-4 times our size in terms of square footage, employees and units per year. The main reason we loose deals is because we can’t build fast enough. We will continue to focus on finding quality employees which will allow us to fill up a larger factory and manufacture more units per year.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Accepting the need for a CFO. The complexities of manufacturing are tough enough, but adding in the vulnerability of steel pricing I wish I had made greater investments into internal accounting. Having had a better understanding of these numbers a few years ago would have made us more responsive in dealing with skyrocketing steel and labor prices.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Construction professionals using large amounts of concrete, as well as entrepreneurs with the financial support purchase the land, equipment, trucks and other supplies needed are encouraged to visit jelmfg.com. We have a free ROI calculator available for you to download and the numbers look good give us a call.

Written by Mark Smith

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