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Family by Association

Mike Hoffman, National Precast Concrete Association’s Chairman of the Board, will look to his family at home, work and in the industry as he steers the association through its first leadership change in more than two decades
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Mike Hoffman

When Mike Hoffman asked his wife, Heather, out on a date in high school, he had no idea it would lead to a job offer from her father. He also couldn’t have known that accepting that job would be the start of a career in the precast concrete industry or that it would one day lead to him becoming Chairman of the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA).

But life is funny like that sometimes. At any moment, any one of the tens of thousands of decisions we make daily can yield unexpected results that change our lives. On that day, that question set the first domino in motion, revealing a pattern that is still unfolding 32 years later.

Branches of the family tree

In high school, having a source of income is a major step in the evolution of independence. So, when the offer from Heather’s father, Roland Lindsay, came part in parcel with the title of boyfriend, Hoffman gladly accepted. The owner of Lindsay Precast, headquartered in Canal Fulton, Ohio, soon had his daughter’s boyfriend washing trucks at the plant.

Perhaps it was a way to get to know the young man courting his daughter. Maybe it was his way of teaching him the value of hard work. Whatever the case, both dating Heather and working for Lindsay Precast endured. Hoffman went on to earn a degree in mechanical engineering while continuing to work for the company and after school married Heather. Now, 32 years later, those decisions have yielded him both a loving family and a career he loves. He and Heather have been married for 25 years and have three kids, and he has worked his way through the ranks to become vice president of Lindsay Precast.

Over time, the employees of Lindsay Precast have become family. This includes actual family in the case of Roland’s son Ron and son-in-law Randy Lindsay-Brisbin, both of whom have played integral roles in the company’s growth over the years.

After Hoffman attended his first NPCA meeting in 1991, he was introduced to a whole other branch of extended family. There, he quickly learned of the Lindsays’ deep history with the association and long-term relationships with other members. The company and family have been involved from the start. Roland Lindsay served as Board Chairman in 1988 and received the association’s highest honor, the Robert E. Yoakum award, in 2012.

“From talking with Roland and Linda, NPCA has been like a second family to the Lindsays pretty much since it began in 1965,” Hoffman said at NPCA’s 53rd Annual Convention held last October in Rhode Island. “It’s one of the cool things about this association. Whether you were born into the industry or whether you came in a bit later, like me, NPCA has always been a welcoming place with the common thread of precast that connects all of us.”

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The producer fabricated custom precast concrete pads for equipment that captures solar power for the grid.

Hoffman immediately saw the value of involvement with NPCA, from committee work and training to establishing his own network. At that first meeting, Joe Wieser, a longtime family friend of the Lindsays and industry pioneer, invited Mike to dinner and instantly made him feel welcomed and valued. Hoffman ended up establishing his own friendship with Joe’s son Andy Wieser, who is now president of Wieser Concrete Products, headquartered in Maiden Rock, Wis.

“I was introduced to Mike Hoffman over 20 years ago at an NPCA convention in Indianapolis,” Wieser recalls. “Through the years, I have worked with Mike on committees, tasks forces, along with several years on the board. I consider Mike to be one of the best leaders in our industry as well as a great friend.”

Wieser is one of many individuals Hoffman knows he can call to seek advice from at any time and with any issue. In fact, beyond the confines of association work, true friendships have been formed. For example, Hoffman is part of a group that gets together for an annual snowmobiling trip in northern Wisconsin with the Wiesers.

Hoffman has also encouraged his employees to walk the same path by getting involved on NPCA committees and taking advantage of its education program. To date, four Lindsay employees have graduated from NPCA’s Precast University curriculum as Master Precasters. In addition, one employee has completed the year-long Leadership NPCA program the association offers, another is currently involved and a third will be in the 2019-20 cohort.

LEADING TO SERVE

Serving as chairman is the culmination of decades of volunteering in various capacities for NPCA; it was anything but expected and by no means coveted for Mike Hoffman. Time in the limelight has never been something he seeks out. However, helping others and giving of his time to the betterment of the industry, association and its members is right up his alley.

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Lindsay Precast delivered a precast solution for a stormwater retention system at Ohio’s Kenyon College.

In his company and in his work for NPCA, Hoffman thrives when he’s thinking strategically with those around him. He has several goals for his year as chairman but is focused on outreach as a top priority. He sees outreach to audiences including specifiers, professors and students as a key component of NPCA’s future.

This vision is informed by his work locally in Ohio, and the results it has achieved. At his plant, he has connected with area schools to introduce students to precast as a product and career opportunity. The company has continued to advance its efforts to connect with potential customers online and in person through lunch and learns, participation in area events, and plant tours. While NPCA’s focus for decades was on the fundamental elements of the industry and ensuring those in the industry were connected with one another, Hoffman sees an opportunity to head in new directions.

“In the early years of NPCA, precast concrete manufacturing was maturing as an industry,” he says. “Today, quality standards are higher than ever, safety is a number one priority, and we are now ready to push forward to the next level. About six years ago, we got a lot more aggressive with our marketing efforts and at every opportunity we are positioning precast concrete as a modern, adaptive building material that is the optimal choice for today’s, and tomorrow’s, construction industry professionals.”

EMPOWERING LEADERS

In his work at Lindsay Precast, Hoffman has mentored and developed many employees as they have grown within the company and in the industry. He hired his general manager at the Ohio plant fresh out of college and groomed him for his current role, and has mentored other employees who came to Lindsay with work experience but were new to the precast industry.

“One of Mike’s unique abilities is to find and bring out the best in peoples’ talents,” notes Andy Wieser. “He has a knack for finding the right person for the right position. Mike is the perfect person to guide NPCA through our transition in leadership.”

In his role as Chairman of the Board for NPCA, he will be tasked with a job not all that different than finding and developing talent for Lindsay Precast. When longtime NPCA president Ty Gable announced his plan to retire at the end of 2019, Hoffman stepped up to chair the search committee tasked with finding his replacement. It’s a role he not only takes seriously but embraces.

“Whatever the future brings for NPCA, it’s going to include change,” he said in his speech to the membership. “One of my most important jobs this year will be chairing the search committee to find Ty’s successor. Finding the right person is critical to our future and I am looking forward to the challenge.”

With other longtime members of NPCA sitting on the committee with him, he has no doubt they will identify the right candidate, that the transition will be smooth, and that the next leader of NPCA will position the association to succeed for decades to come.

MOVING AHEAD

Although Hoffman could never have predicted the past 32 years when he asked for that date, he’s grateful for it all and is looking forward to what’s yet to come. When he came on board at Lindsay Precast washing trucks, the company had just built a second plant. It now has seven plants centered in five states and Hoffman’s role in the company continues to evolve.

Likewise, he has seen tremendous growth at NPCA since he attended his first meeting in 1991. Every part of the association, from technical support and training to plant certification and the trade show, is larger and has more impact these days.

Having the opportunity to help both organizations continue their growth pattern and move in new strategic directions reflects the work he has put in and skills he has obtained. In both roles, he will seek to do what he has done throughout his career, provide guidance when needed but also empower those around him to excel. After all, that’s what family members do for one another.


LINDSAY PRECAST At-A-Glance

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Lindsay Precast Plant 1 in Canal Fulton, Ohio. The producer uses a patch-off as a teaching opportunity and provide employees a chance to show their knowledge and skills. A second Lindsay Precast plant is less than a mile down the road from the headquarters.

National Precast Concrete Association At-A-Glance
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Lindsay Precast delivered standard and custom products for an underground grain storage solution in Massillon, Ohio.