Guiding Principles

Rich Kirchner

Learn more about out Guiding Principles and how they effect every person our company comes in contact with in this question and answer interview with President, Rick Kirchner

In General

What services and products does your company offer?

Our Custom Precast Concrete Products can be grouped into 5 main categories:

  1.      Underground Utility Precast
  2.      Panel Manholes
  3.      Steam Tunnels
  4.      Bridges, Culverts, Retention Chambers
  5.      Small Buildings for Schools; Flammable Storage

When was Advance Concrete Products started?

July 28th 1966

About Our Founder

Who started the company?

My Dad, Ron Kirchner, started the company along with some Investors & Partners. The “Investors” were family members who believed in my Dad’s dream of having his own precast concrete company and included his parents, his aunts and uncles and his brother and sister-in-law. He also tapped into his kids’ savings accounts and savings bonds. One of his original partners, Tom Engle, continues to work for the company.

What sparked your Dad’s interest in starting a business in general and a precast business in particular?

My dad was always a motivated and smart businessman and an entrepreneur at heart. When he was just 18 years old, he built his first house. He built it with leftover building materials that construction companies and lumberyards were discarding.

When he was attending Michigan State University, he started working for a precaster during the summer. He was hard-working and motivated but his foreman gave him a hard time and called him a “College Boy”. He would never let my Dad advance or get overtime. When my Dad graduated from college, he became his former foreman’s boss. After a few years he was running two precast plants with hundreds of employees.

What lead up to his decision to start a precast concrete company?

As a young man he saw how high employee turnover hurt a company. He didn’t like the fact that companies hired people when times were good and laid them off when business got slow. He knew that he could do better than that. He wanted to create a company with a strong reputation that could attract the best workers, keep the best customers and provide job security consistently. He was dedicated to helping his employees reach their potential.

What was your dad’s business philosophy and approach to working with clients?

My Dad always said that good business is simple. Just treat others the way you want to be treated. This includes everyone you come into contact with – employees, customers, vendors and neighbors. Just treat people well. He also said, 'When you make a commitment, stick by it. Always deliver what you promise'. He was adamant about that. He taught us to know the needs of the customer and to be willing to do whatever it takes to serve their needs. He thought it was important to be flexible and willing to adapt.

What factors enabled the business to survive through the early challenges?

My Dad built the company the same way he built his first house: by finding things that other people had discarded and making something out of them. He had a very conservative approach to growing his business and disliked waste of any kind – wasted resources, wasted time, wasted potential.

What are your favorite stories about your dad from his early days in business?

My Dad was dedicated to his employees and, because of that; his employees were dedicated to him. When I was a kid, I remember hearing that he had bought his salesperson a new car to use on sales calls. At the same time my Dad was driving around in an old rusted Pinto wagon with glued on wood panels.

Every Christmas Eve my Dad would hand deliver a turkey to every employee’s home. He would also organize a company Christmas party in the lunchroom for the whole team. At those annual parties, he would give every employee a year-end bonus. One year, cash was tight. There wasn’t enough money for a party or year-end bonuses. But in his mind it wasn’t the employees’ fault so instead of disappointing them, he re-mortgaged our home so that he would have the cash to throw a party and give year-end bonuses. No one ever knew.

What is the best business lesson or advice your dad ever gave you?

My Dad always said that your reputation is your most valuable asset. He told us to guard it carefully because once you lose it; you can never get it back.

The Second Generation

How did you get started in the business?

When my brothers and I turned 12, we started doing odd jobs at the business like cleaning, sweeping and cleaning out the septic tanks. After I graduated from college, I showed my Dad how computers could benefit his business. I officially became an employee on October 1, 1989.

What is your working philosophy and approach to working with clients?

My working philosophy was shaped by my father’s. I believe in taking good care of my employees so they feel like valuable members of the team and want to stay. I also believe in treating my employees fairly, the way I want to be treated.

What have been the keys to success in your company?

It all comes down to the principles that Advance was founded upon and that I continue to follow: serve your customers well, take care of your employees and keep your word.

What are some of your company’s proudest achievements?

We’re proud of our creative thinking and our innovative products and designs. Working as a team we can figure out how to create whatever it is a client needs.

We were also very proud to receive our NPCA Plant Certification back in 1991. Recently we received an award for being the longest continually certified plant in the Midwest and we tied with a plant back east for being longest continually certified plant in the United States. It’s nice to have outside confirmation that we’re doing a good job.

I’m pleased that our customers are so loyal. Once a customer experiences our service, they stay with us. We become part of their team. I’m proud of that.

What would your customers say are the top advantages of working with Advance?

In post-project surveys, customers consistently tell us that we do a great job thinking ahead and planning for every possible situation that may come up so there are few or no surprises. They also tell us that our products, people, equipment and services are always consistent. They know they can depend on us. People really appreciate that we conduct our business with great integrity – always. We don’t ever change the quality of our product to save money or under-bid when the economy slows then short-change the customer. Lastly, our customers love that we give confirmed delivery dates and we always show up when we promise.

What are some of the biggest challenges your customers face and how do you help them overcome those challenges?

The biggest challenge my customers face on their jobsites is unexpected surprises. In one instance, a customer called our operations manager at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and said he had run into some trouble. He needed 14 handholes on a freeway job as soon as possible.

He was hoping he could get them delivered Monday morning or Saturday, at best. We were ready for him and had those handholes delivered to his site within 90 minutes. Our system and our talent enable us to respond to any request quickly and efficiently. Our customers love that.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry since you began?

Since 1989, there are fewer single, independent producers and more conglomerates. Several small precasters were bought up by the big companies. The bigger companies have a hard time offering consistency in product or service. A customer can’t count on the same engineer or the same driver to work on their project. The big companies often lose touch with their customers. On the other hand, smaller precast companies are more consistent in product and service. They find out what the customer wants, then figure out how to build it. That flexibility is something customers really appreciate

What would you like people to say when describing your business?

Advance does whatever it takes to get you what you want, when you want it.

How We Work

Our Mission: To provide you with precast concrete products that are

Engineered to Fit

Built to Last

& Delivered On Time.

Whether you are looking for a stock product that is cored to your exact specifications or a pre-cast structure that is custom-made for your project, we can help. We work closely with you to create unique solutions to whatever challenge your project may present.

When you work with Advance Concrete Products you can count on us to:

  • Develop creative solutions to your most perplexing challenges and to not rest until we do.
  • Provide you with pre-cast concrete products that are made to your precise specifications and are built to last.
  • Conduct all business ethically and honestly in every situation.
  • Make safety a priority for the protection of every member of your team and ours.
  • Work together with you to ensure long-term success for all of us.

Our unique approach to client projects is based on over 50 years in the precast concrete industry. 

Here are the steps we take to ensure the success of every project.

  1. We brainstorm creative solutions for your project.
  2. Our engineer creates your preliminary mechanical drawings.
  3. Mechanical drawings are sent for your signed approval.
  4. Your structures go into production.
  5. We order custom hardware upon request.
  6. Our Manufacturing Team keeps production moving, even if after hours.
  7. We conduct a pre-delivery site inspection, if necessary.
  8. Our team discusses the logistics of your delivery down to the detail.
  9. We make final preparations to ensure a smooth and on-time delivery.
  10. Your product is delivered on schedule.

Crane Operation Certification

Advance Concrete Products has some of the largest trailer mounted cranes in the State of Michigan. We are able to offer options to contractors, to unload on the site or even set our precast concrete structures in their excavations.

Being dedicated to safety, we are happy to announce that all of our crane operators have gone through extensive professional classes and testing to meet the new OSHA requirements for crane operator certification. When you order precast concrete from Advance, your delivery is guaranteed to be handled by a crane operator with, on average, 16 years of training and on-the job experience, PLUS current Crane Institute Certification.

Can your precaster provide a Crane Operator’s Certification card upon arrival at the jobsite, now required by OSHA, to unload? If you order from Advance Concrete Products, our drivers sure can! No contractor wants to pay fines or deal with a costly work stoppage because a trailer mounted crane operator hasn’t conformed to the new certification OSHA requirement.

When you purchase products from Advance Concrete, you’ll be confident in your decision to choose a company that invests in their employees and provides quality precast concrete delivered by professional operators with extensive training. Congratulations to all of our crane operators in passing all written and practical exams to update their Crane Operator Certifications!

About On-Time Delivery. How We Do That

9 Steps We Take to Ensure Your Product Is Delivered On-Time, Every-Time

1. Your Submittal Drawing is Returned to You in Two Days or Less
A quick turnaround of your submittal drawing is the first step to guaranteeing you an on-time delivery. As soon as we receive your specifications, our team gets to work so that you can count on drawings in two days or less.

2. Our Yard is Kept Stocked with Standard Products for Quick Turnaround
The most commonly ordered concrete structures are kept in-stock at all times. On those occasions when a quick turnaround is essential, stock structures can be ready for delivery in just one hour.

3. Your Structure is Made With Type III High Early Cement
Type III High Early Cement ensures stronger concrete in less time. It also guarantees forms are stripped faster which results in a speedy turnaround for you.

4. Varied Shift Start and End Times Ensure Fast and Efficient Production
Our production shift starts early & we work hard after-hours preparing for your pour and delivery. This shortens our production time and gives us the flexibility to get your custom precast concrete structure produced in 48-hours or less.

5. Your Delivery is Planned With Precision
Our team plans the logistics of your delivery down to the detail. Then, back-up plans are created and carefully considered to make sure every possible situation is planned for before it happens.

6. Every Piece of Equipment Has a Backup or Two
Our back-up equipment ensures that no matter what happens, we will always get your structure to you on-time. This includes the concrete mixers in our plant, the cranes, trucks and trailers used to deliver your order, and the back-up systems used to maintain communication with our drivers and your field personnel.

7. Our Team Prepares for Your Delivery the Day Before
Everyone involved with your project is given the details of your delivery the day before. By doing this, our team members are able to prepare and organize everything they need to ensure you an on-time delivery and flawless set.

8. Every Person in Our Office Can Give You the Status of Your Delivery
When you call us to check on the status of your delivery, you can be assured of two things: 1, that a friendly, helpful person will answer your call and 2, that any ACP team member who answers will be able to give you an up-to-the-minute status of your delivery.

9. Your Pre-cast Concrete Structure Can Be Delivered 7 Days a Week
When a Saturday or Sunday delivery is required to keep your construction project on schedule, you can count on us to be there.

We Serve Contractors, Engineers, Developers

We work with contractors, engineers and developers who want a supplier they can count on to provide pre-cast concrete products that are built to exacting standards and delivered on time. Our customers have high standards and expect the same from us. They want a supplier who will help them deliver the best product and service possible to their clients.

Although the specific circumstances of construction projects change, the struggles contractors and engineers experience are similar. See if any of these scenarios sound familiar to you:

  1. Timing is critical every time you bid on a project. Quotations that arrive late or not at all cause additional stress during the bidding process. You want a supplier who already has the specs for the job and can get an accurate bid back to you ASAP.
  2. Every construction project comes with its own unique set of challenges. You want a supplier who will help you understand your options and work with you to create unique solutions to overcome any challenge you face.
  3. Sub-standard products and poor service costs you time, money and future contracts. The products you use on your jobs must be engineered to meet specific requirements and fit precisely. You expect your suppliers to have high standards and get it right the first time.
  4. Tight schedules and tighter budgets are the name of the game on construction projects. If your supplier doesn't deliver when promised, you lose time and money. You need a supplier you can count on to show up when they say they will.
  5. The last thing you want is to have to rent a crane to install the product you ordered. What you do want is a supplier who has the equipment to deliver their products and an experienced crew to set them as well.

What To Expect from Advance Concrete

Here’s What You Can Expect from a Precast Concrete Company Awarded NPCA Certified Plant Distinction for 26 Straight Years

  1. You receive creative solutions to your most perplexing challenges. Whatever your construction challenges, you can count on us to come up with innovative solutions that will save you time and money.
  1. Your precast concrete products are made to your precise specifications and built to last. Our job is to make you look good to your customers. One of the ways we do that is by making our products with great care, engineering them to exacting standards and ensuring they fit precisely – the first time.
  1. Your concrete order is delivered on time. We understand the critical nature of timing on construction projects. That’s why we guarantee your delivery time. You can set your watch by it.
  1. You receive a response to your questions, calls or emails quickly. Time is of the essence in the world of construction. When you contact us to ask a question or get information, you can count on a live person to answer the phone and a timely response to your inquiry.
  1. Your order is completed for the price quoted or less, but never a penny more. You will find our bids to be accurate and extremely competitive. Our long-time customers will tell you, we don’t play favorites. We don’t bid low to one customer and higher to another. Nor do we bid low to get the contract then try to get more money after the project has begun. That’s just not how we do business. We bid a fair price and do the work for the price we quoted. Period.

Plant Tours

Advance Concrete Is Always Tour-Ready

Advance Concrete Products is certified by organizations which conduct unannounced inspections, keeping quality at a maximum.  We consider our plant "Tour Ready"at all times. Please contact us at 248-887-4173 or email info@advanceconcreteproducts.com
if you would like a plant tour.

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