Wieser Concrete: Celebrated Growth
Published on Tue, 07/07/2015 - 3:25pm
The Family Business
For many second- or third-generation family members, the idea of having a family business is seen as the chance to create your own position, lifetime job security, and dear old dad as your boss. It offers a wealth of opportunities and challenges, not to mention the ability to continue the family legacy. Wieser Concrete Products in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, is a classic example of a second- and third-generation run business whose multigenerational family members have worked diligently for more than 50 years — helping farmers with their feed and manure management.
Started in 1965 by Joe Wieser, Wieser Concrete specializes in precast manure storage systems, bunker silos, slatted floors, and feed bunks for the agricultural industry; median barriers and pavement slabs for the highway industry; septic tanks, sanitary manholes, and special box structures for the underground industry; as well as the L-Panel retaining systems and fuel containment vessels for the commercial industry. Other products that Wieser offers include hog feeders, fencing, box culverts, storm sewer manholes, precast trench systems, commercial sludge storage systems, retaining wall systems, and steps for homes.
“Our father started the company in 1965 after he got out the military service,” says Andy Wieser, who along with his brothers, Mark and Dan, have owned the company since 1998. “When our dad left the service, he decided to become a dairy farmer. So he bought some cows and milked on his grandfather’s farm. He did that for a few years while also working at his father’s concrete plant, Al’s Concrete Products.”
After working with his dad for several years, Joe eventually sold his cows and decided to venture off on his own. With two septic tank forms and a boom truck, Joe established his own precast concrete business — Wieser Concrete Products. The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, Wieser Concrete, which recently celebrated its 50th year in business, has experienced tremendous growth. Thanks to Joe’s business acumen, diligence, and eagerness to grow the company as efficiently and effectively as possible, Wieser Concrete is one of the country’s leading precast concrete manufacturers. Their success specifically within the agricultural industry is due, in part, to the long-term relationships they have with the farmers they serve.
One such farmer is Wallace Fetzer of Fetzer Farms in Elmwood, Wisconsin. One day during the winter of 1967, Wallace Fetzer contacted Joe Wieser to request a manure storage tank, a new product that Joe had yet to launch.
After working with his father, Al, to build a form for a manure storage tanks, Joe created two 32' x 60' manure storage tanks for Fetzer Farms. Nearly fifty years and two generations later, these storage tanks are still in use today and currently Wieser Concrete is preparing to install another manure storage tank for Wally’s grandsons, who are now running the family farm.
“We really enjoy working closely with the farmers who order our products,” Wieser says. “A lot of what we do and the products we create are the result of farmers coming to us with ideas to meet their specific needs.”
Full-time beef producer Dave Eron, owner of Eron Beef, recently worked with Wieser Concrete to construct a slatted floor beef barn with 44" feed bunks. Eron has been in charge of all the cattle feeding on his parent’s 40-cow dairy farm since he was a child.
“After the family farm dissolved I began raising Holstein calves on my own on a rented farm,” Eron says. “By 2008 my wife and I had earned enough equity to purchase a 240-acre farm in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. “We had been raising Holstein steers on open sandy dirt lots with success, but the amount of time and labor involved became too much with a growing family.”
After careful consideration and meeting with lenders, Eron’s accountant, and many current Wieser Pan-L-Bilt owners, Eron had a Wieser Pan-L-Bilt slatted floor beef barn with 44" feed bunks installed on his farm. To meet Eron’s growing needs, a second Wieser Pan-L-Bilt beef barn is currently being built for feeder cattle backgrounding to complement the finishing barn.
“Wieser Concrete now brilliantly couples decades-old familiarity with slatted floor animal housing and today’s modern farming practices — whether dairy, pork or, in this case, beef production,” Eron says. “Wieser Concrete was quick to adopt a center of barn drive through floor design that would accommodate the intense weight of my farm’s equipment to allow a ‘one full feed mixer load per side’ feeding program. This heavy-duty center of barn drive through is currently used as both a north and south feed lane, as well as a drover’s lane, working and sorting alley, semi truck lane and so much more. I wanted an efficient structure that absolutely maximized square footage use and Wieser Concrete delivered.”
Eron is quick to point out that the Wieser Pan-L-Bilt beef barn has exceeded his expectations.
“The cattle seem more content, are healthier and gaining more weight per day, but yet they’re consuming approximately 10% less feed than their open lot counterparts,” Eron says. “Bedding costs and procurement is no longer an issue as cattle excrement is nearly instantly evacuated from their environment.”
The large 44" Wieser Straight Back feed bunks also offer Eron more flexibility in hours of feed storage, which helps during the busiest seasons of year, including planting or harvest times.
A Growing Segment
Today about 50 percent of Wieser Concrete’s business is agricultural. “Our father is now fully retired, but myself, along with my two brothers run the business and one of my sons also has joined the business, managing our plant in Illinois.”
Some of the key things Wieser offers in the agricultural arena include manure storage and slatted floor manure storage. They also offer bunker silos for feed storage—ranging from five-feet to 16-feet-high silos. But it’s the companies 17 different styles of feed bunks that exemplify the company’s eagerness to work directly with each farmer to determine their specific needs.
“Since 1979 we’ve owned a mold-making company, Wieser Form Fabrication, which is fairly unique in our industry,” Wieser says. “When we pour precast concrete, we need a steel mold to pour it into to create the piece. Having our own company that makes those molds allows us to readily and efficiently embrace a new concept or idea. There are a lot of advantages to this, most importantly is that if someone wants a different shape or size product, we are able to do that.”
In fact, having the 17 different styles of feed bunks is the outcropping of Wieser’s close relationship with their customers. “While we stay pretty consistent with the product molds we produce, we do customize things. In fact, almost all of our shapes and styles of feed bunks have resulted from farmers and us designing them together. That’s why we have 17 different ones,” Wieser says. “Farmers we work with often will say, ‘Have you thought of doing it this way. Or maybe change this part.’ This collaboration is really key to our business.”
For example, Wieser Concrete offers a precast cattle guard that they re-modified by incorporating some ideas that farmers gave them.
“We love working with our customers,” Wieser says. “They share great ideas and have helped us along the way.”
As the Wieser sons have taken the proverbial reigns from their father, Joe, they have continued to expand the company’s product offerings as well. Some of the newest products this next generation of owners are producing include sound absorptive noise walls, precast bridges, MSE retaining walls, burial vaults for veteran cemeteries, highway pavement slabs, and bullet- absorbing walls for military training.
“We are always looking for new opportunities and we are looking to expand as opportunities arise,” Wieser says. “My brothers and I all have kids in college, so we are always looking for new opportunities to see what role they can play in the business. As far as products, every year there is something new to create and add to our ever-growing product list. It’s a very exciting time for the company and what we offer the agricultural business.”