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FABCON: One Company, Two Divisions, Countless Opportunities
In the world of precast concrete, there is more innovation and opportunity than you might realize. At FABCON Precast based in Savage, Minnesota, they’re constantly coming up with new ways to innovate products, finishes, and systems. Human Resources manager Tracy Engstrand keeps busy looking for everything from field operations to drafters to engineers and salespeople. With hundreds on staff at four locations in Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kansas, Engstrand says there is something for just about everyone.
Getting in is just the beginning
“The thing that makes FABCON unique is that it’s two companies in one,” says Enstrand. “We’re in both manufacturing and construction. That enables people who work here to move between the two if they choose.”
He gives the example of a safety manager that became a field superintendent, or the administrative assistant who is now the Director of Quality Assurance. The opportunity to move to an entirely different department and function doesn’t exist in many manufacturing or construction careers. “The more you broaden your understanding of the businesses, the better you can position yourself for other opportunities,” says Engstrand.
Engstrand says they make it a point to hire from within at FABCON. Again, he underscores the importance of demonstrating hard work and the willingness to learn more about the company as a way to advance.
“We’re looking for people who want to learn all aspects of the business and then move up,” explains Engstrand. “If you’re willing to learn the foundational stuff about drafting, estimating, manufacturing and field operations, then you really start to understand the breadth and depth of what this business entails.”
President Mike LeJeune echoes that sentiment.
“If you prove yourself, you have the opportunity to advance to any position, including mine,” says LeJeune.
Director of Quality Assurance Linda Whitmore says she’s living proof of that concept.
“While I was working in my first role here, the company paid for me to finish my college degree,” she says. “From there, I was given as much opportunity as I could handle. I have been the Director of Project Management, the Director of Corporate ISO and the Director of Quality Assurance.”
Whitmore says she’s not the only one to be afforded opportunities at FABCON.
“People who like a fast-paced environment do well here and are rewarded with new challenges,” says Whitmore.
The FABCON “type”
Engstrand is the first to admit that manufacturing and construction are not for the faint of heart. The industry can be challenging and at times, volatile.
“There are a million things happening here at once and we’re really date driven so you have to like that fast pace,” says Engstrand. “You’ve got to be a person that’s motivated to get things done when they’re due. We’re putting up multi-million dollar buildings so there’s a reward in getting to see your work when it’s all done.”
He explains that many of the current employees are there because, in simplest terms, they like to make things.
“Construction people like to build and they lot of pride in what they do,” says Engstrand. “There’s a fair amount of science – for example making finishes on panels in the plant. We have to adhere to processes and requirements but at the end of the day, it’s fun to look at the finished product and know you played a part in getting it there.”
Sales engineer Linh Pham gets it completely. She loves to point out buildings she’s worked on to family and friends.
“I’ll see one and say, ‘That’s my building!’” says Pham. “It’s neat to be a part of the project from the early conceptual stages, and to see schematic designs realized and turned into reality.”
She also enjoys the opportunity to influence the end product. “I once proposed a small suggestion on a local Target store,” she explains. “Even though it was small suggestion, they implemented it on that project and on subsequent stores I saw. Now I can smile every time I walk past the front entry at those Target stores. ”
The FABCON way
LeJeune says he’s worked hard to create a culture of respect and ethical conduct at FABCON. He and the rest of his leadership team try to lead by example.
“We have what we call the FABCON way,” says LeJeune. “The most important thing is respect because it makes everyone work hard for each other. We’ve created a culture that’s conducive to great performance.”
Project manager Tyson Intile agrees. He likes the atmosphere of hard work and constant support.
“You hear other companies talk about their open door policy but we truly have one here,” says Intile. “Our leadership is very accessible. I’m very comfortable picking up the phone to call the officers – or anyone that I work with. Everyone answers the phone to see how they can help.”
Engstrand says to keep people like Intile and others in place, they have to stay competitive with pay, benefits and for many positions, flexible schedules.
“We try to offer flexibility and provide the technology for people to do their work off site more effectively,” says Engstrand. “We pay attention to what we’re asking of employees in terms of trying to balance their life. That helps us create a more positive culture by showing employees that we care about them and want them to be successful.”
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