Grain Journal — MJ_11
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McPherson Concrete

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS AS A FAMILY-OWNED CORPORATION

Three generations of the Anderson family have led the McPherson Concrete corporation for the past 100 years. It has grown from one man's desire to build a concrete silo on the family farm to becoming one of the largest builders of commercial grain structures in the Midwest. Last year, the McPherson, KS-based company (800- 999-8151) built 9 million bushels of jumpform concrete storage, and as of early June 2011 had 15 concrete tanks under construction.

The company has three divisions. McPherson Concrete Storage Systems, Inc. builds jumpform concrete structures throughout Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas for storage of grain and other commodities. The other two divisions, McPherson Concrete Products, Inc. and Wichita Concrete Pipe, Inc., sell precast concrete structures (e.g. pipe, manholes, culverts, risers). They have manufacturing facilities in McPherson, Wichita, and Lindsborg, KS and sell throughout the state of Kansas.

Centennial Celebration

On June 4, 2011, the company hosted a 100-year celebration at the McPherson Community Park.

"We're inviting in current and past employees and their families, customers, and city leaders," says Chris Anderson, president since 1990 and grandson of founder Lambert Anderson.

History

McPherson Concrete Products was founded in 1911 by Lambert Anderson, who wanted a longer-lasting silo.

"My grandfather had read about silos made of concrete staves," explains Anderson. "We have a letter from 1911 giving him the right to build staves here in Kansas. He designed his own molds and started casting his own concrete silo staves. After his silo was built, neighbors asked him to build one for them, and the business was born."

Within a few years, the growing company moved into the city of McPherson from a site two miles north of town, where the stave making and Silo construction processes were automated. In the 1920s, the company began manufacturing round concrete pipe, and a distinctive diamond shape was chosen as a symbol of quality for the company's silos and grain tanks.

"Every silo company had a distinctive design at the top, so that you could easily identify who made it," explains Sales Manager Roy House, who started with the company 46 years ago.

McPherson silos throughout Kansas and surrounding states can be easily identified by their "Diamond Top".

In the 1940s, Lambert Anderson's health was failing and son Chester (Chet) took over. Under his leadership, a German process was discovered for producing concrete pipe faster and cheaper, and the company became one of the first in the United States to produce concrete pipe using the dry-cast method.

Chet Anderson continued to pursue innovations related to concrete silos and pipes, as well as in areas like concrete blocks and burial vaults. Later developments included risers, manholes, elliptical pipe, and box culverts. After World War II, the company began producing and delivering ready-mixed concrete. It now has two ready-mix plants in McPherson, one in Lindsborg and also a portable plant.

In 1990, Chet's son, Chris, took over as president, although Chet remained active in the company until His death in 2008.

"On paper, my dad wasn't working for the last few years of his life, but in reality, we all knew who the boss was, when he was around," says Chris. "Although I didn't know my grandpa very well, both he and my dad were very involved in the business. Because we had a niche in the market, and with the dedication of some long-term employees, it has been possible to reach 100 years as a family-owned business.

"Some of our employees are legendary in the business. For example Robbin Kratzer, construction manager, and Roy House have been with us for well over 40 years and do an amazing job at what they do."

"Our trademarks are consistency, quality control and the ability to bring the necessary resources to complete projects in a timely manner," says House.

Jumpform Construction

Since the late 1960s, McPherson Concrete has used the jumpform process to build storage tanks of varying diameters, heights, and discharge methods and capacities, numbering approximately 800.

"We were one of the first companies to use jumpform construction," says Anderson."Basically it requires using three sets of forms. You pour four feet of concrete into the first set of forms, put another set on top and pour another four feet, and then another. By that time, the concrete in the bottom set is hardened, so you can pull those forms and 'jump' them up on top. We have an extensive inventory of jumpform construction sets ranging in diameters from 20 feet up to 90 feet."

"Of course, I have my bias about the durability of concrete for grain storage It's very strong and it doesn't corrode," continues Anderson. "Once it's there, it will be there for a long time."

Strength in Three Divisions

While McPherson Concrete Storage Systems, Inc. is in the construction business, the other two divisions are suppliers. The three divisions share some personnel and provide diversity through economic changes.

"Over the last couple of years, storage systems has been doing better than the other two divisions," says Anderson."The economy hasn't seemed to hit agriculture as hard as other areas."

Shirley Brooks, contributing writer
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