James Teachout was a concrete worker laying sidewalks and basement floors in 1983 when he made what he looks back on as "one of the best decisions I ever made in my life."
In a chance meeting at a bank that year, he and his father-in-law, who did similar work, decided on the spot to go into business for themselves.
Over the next 21 years, Ted Glenn Concrete Co., the company they formed and named after the elder man, grew into a $3.5 million-a-year firm serving home builders, including local giant Forrester Wehrle Inc., Mr. Teachout said.
Glenn Concrete has thrived over the past decade, thanks to changes in building practices and a housing boom propelled by low interest rates.
Basement walls, which were once almost exclusively built by bricklayers with cement blocks, are increasingly being made of poured concrete.
That has led to increased business for Glenn Concrete, whose involvement in housing construction was once mostly limited to basement floors and sidewalks.
"We've been going full guns for 10 years," explained Mr. Teachout in his Sylvania Township office.
Employment has grown to 35, and the firm lays concrete for about 270 houses each year, he said.
Customer Jeff Moses, of J. Moses Construction, builds about 40 houses a year. Glenn Concrete does all of the foundation work. He used other firms, but experienced difficulty getting them to stick to schedules. "The biggest advantage Jim has over other firms is that he comes when he says and the others don't," Mr. Moses said.
Glenn contracts for the delivery of cement from local firms such as Kuhlman Corp., of metro Toledo. Glenn employees erect forms into which cement is poured, and then oversee other steps in the process.
Rising cement prices, caused by the U.S. housing construction boom and growing demand in China, have plagued Glenn and other firms recently.
"Prices have risen 8 percent in the past year and a half," said Mr. Teachout, 53. "We see increases every year, but this was the biggest."
Still, he doesn't long for the days when he started the firm.
"Otherwise, I would be working for somebody else," he said.
His father-in-law, who died a decade ago, left the business after a few months. But Mr. Teachout decided not to change the name out of respect for the older man.
Among the firm's biggest challenges are employee turnover and keeping prices down, said Mr. Teachout, who oversees preparation of job estimates.
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