Page 103 article text (OCR)
g 'ti- The Palm Beach Post-Times . mm 111 III ill Hi liSill HI o H v V i v f mm mm IP t ' r SECTION FF SUNDAY, DECEMBER 5, 1976 .... x ; , , ... . rns Di) Kwvv ' jftl Uv -r Rinker Tu From Sand, Rock To Launching Pads Bob Rollins Business Editor Hi. Sk, t' , ,( ' " L "IS r" Imm' V" -- -----,- - r mt . - PRy. Mytp& In 1926, M.E. (Doc) Rinker scraped together $600 for a down payment on a $2,200 dump truck, paid $15 for a shanty and formed the Rinker Rock and Sand Co. in Delray Beach. Today, Rinker, who will be 72 Wednesday, heads Rinker Materials Corp., which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Based in West Palm Beach, the firm, with 1,200 employes throughout Florida and $80 million in assets, recorded sales of $113 million in 1973 "before the bottom dropped out" of the state's construction industry. But the bottom has dropped out many times on Rinker, who learned long ago to adjust the flow of his concrete to the good times as well as the bad. "It's one thing to become successful. It's another thing to stay that way," says Rinker. "When you're successful, someone's always striving to beat you out. "If you don't work constantly to improve the product, the cost or the service, you go backward. That's no malarkey. That's just the way it is." In 1927, Rinker loaded the shanty on the truck and moved his fledgling sand and rock hauling business to West Palm Beach, where the 1928 hurricane swept away his office. But people with insurance money were anxious to rebuild and Rinker supplied the materials. About the time he started building up a supply of trucks, the bottom fell out with the stock market crash. The finance company repossessed the trucks, couldn't resell them and returned them to Rinker with an extended loan period. Working 18 hours a day, he supplied materials to build the estate homes of Harold Vanderbilt in Lantana and Joseph Widener in Palm Beach. By 1931, sales were dropping off and Rinker joined forces with A. V. Hansen, a cement finisher. They bought a one-bag cement mixer which they towed behind the truck. Together, they mixed, poured and finished concrete. (Hansen retired as vice president of Rinker's in 1961 and died in 1968.) Rinker said the company was the only one left standing after the depression. "Orders were scarce and trucks were idle for weeks at a time." Sales hit $9,000 in 1932. In 1933, the partners almost quit when they couldn't pay a $9 oil bill. Not too long after that, the federal government began its public works projects and Rinker almost missed the initial order for 20 carloads of rock. He thought the man who called was drunk. In an effort to reduce cost and increase sales, they started barging materials from Miami. "It was a turning point in the company's history," says Rinker. "Barging saved us 40 cents a ton in transportation costs over rail and gave us an unfair advantage over the competition." The following year, 1935, produced another turning point and the company slogan: First With the Best. The partners hocked everything they owned to make down payment on two IV2 yard mixer trucks. Rinker's brother Joe brought a third truck with him from Milwaukee and, together they introduced transit mix concrete, known as Redi-Mix, to Florida. Before then, mixing concrete was a slow process and took a lot of labor. This was a new day. 1935 Vintage Redi-Mix Trucks With Modern Counterpart (Inset) They thought they were on their way, but the bottom was about to go out again. In September 1935, a storm sunk barges and wrecked the plant. They began another period of rebuilding. In 1938, the men built their first concrete block manufacturing plant, capable of producing 200 blocks a day. (Rinker now owns 10 plants can produce 25,000 blocks daily and an automated plant in Broward County that can produce 5 million a year.) During the war years, Rinker steel, concrete and blocks were used to build military bases at Boca Raton, Daytona Beach, Fort Myers and Key West, among others. Post-war plants opened in Fort Pierce, Lake Worth, Vero Beach, Jupiter, Titusville, Cocoa and elsewhere. In 1961, five former W.J. Snow plants at Pompano Beach, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Lake Worth and Royal Palm Village became Rinker operations. Rapid expansion came with the purchases of Mack Concrete in Hollywood, Frailey Concrete in Orlando and Ready-Mix in Fort Lauderdale. Then, another turning point: The acquisition of land in Dade County to build a quarry "for a dependable supply of aggregate and to make the company In 1969, Apollo 11 headed for the moon, launched from a Rinker concrete pad at Cape Kennedy. Plants became operational in 1971 to "meet the demands of Disney World." And so it went. A plant began in 1972 at Century Village for the 720-acre condominium development, as did new cement terminal at Port Canaveral with facilities to unload 660 tons an hour. In 1973, Rinker hit the top before another bottom. Sales hit $113 million. Employes totaled 1,550. By late 1974, sales would drop 60 per cent and the work force reduced to 850. The 1974 recession and recovery period would see competitors fall by the wayside. Lehigh Portland Cement is leaving the state. Maule Industries has entered bankruptcy proceedings. Rinker remains. In fact, the firm is expanding into the Jacksonville area and probably will pick up some of the operations left behind by Lehigh and Maule. Reflecting on the 1974 bust year, Rinker believes most of the firms that failed didn't react quickly enough. "We had learned from our previous setbacks. We're No. 1 because we have the most experienced employes about 100 in supervision that have been with us from 15 to 30 years. "We have well-located and well-designed plants. We have a training program running constantly to make extraordinary workers out of the ordinary. Last week, we had 230 plant managers and supervisors in an all-day seminar looking ahead to the next 50 years of the company." What's ahead? For one thing, Rinker is planning to step aside from his duties as chairman, president and general manager in a three-year transition period. Three sons participate in the family business. But there's one more innovation he wants to accomplish before leaving. While his firm has followed a path comparable to large supermarkets, Rinker sees a need for the small concrete plant or convenience store. Small towns can't support a $3.5 million plant. His answer: mini-building material and supply yards. "It costs us 6Va cents a block to haul them from Orlando to Ocala." He wants to build a $300,000 block plant to supply the area and is convinced the concept will be expanded in the state. The only source of cement in Florida is the Miami area. Costs increase as cement is shipped farther north. If he can achieve that goal and step aside in three years, then what? "Probably play some golf to keep out of trouble and keep my blood running." I 1 y. it it f " "IV Avoid Some Surprises, Get Written Estimates 1 c X 1i V-V. T. VX UHDESTHE PROVISIONS OF MICU5T0MEBS ABl EMTITUD TO BfOUIST AN 15T!MATI OM BIPAIRS WHICH WILIJXCEEOS2B0-0. BEFORE M;' A r - : ? REPAIR WORK iS DONE X SUH Photo by John Kollor Load of Radishes Heads for Market Thousands of Glades Acres Produce Millions of Radishes By BECKY SCHROEDER Poll Stiff Wrlttr Consumers complain more about car repairs than anything else, but repairmen say customers aren't asking for the written repair estimates they're entitled to under the law. That unpleasant 5 p.m. scene at the repair shop cash register could be avoided if people knew and exercised their rights, they agree. Since February 1974, Florida consumers have been entitled to a written estimate, on request, for auto repairs that will cost more than $25. Florida's fair trade practices act, (called the Little FTC Act and modeled on the law creating the Federal Trade Commission) also requires that a 2-by-3-foot sign advising consumers of this right be posted "conspicuously" in the shop's "service entrance area." But since February 1974, "only one person has asked me for a written estimate," said Nick Petris, manager of the Shell station at Dixie Highway and Belvedere Road. He is echoed by station owners and repair shops in West Palm Beach. "If people are aware of their rights to a written estimate, I haven't seen them act like it," said Schumacher Buick service manager Chuck Hermance. "Very, very few ask for one," "About half my customers ask for estimates, and more women than men ask," said Bob McAnallen, president of OK Brakes and Alignment. Hank Miller, service manager for the Coral Volkswagen dealership, said, "About 80 per cent of the people coming in here ask for an oral estimate and 95 per cent of the time our oral estimates are close." Several specialty shops in West Palm Beach gave written estimates as company policy before this consumer protection act went into effect. At Midas Muffler shops, for In-Torn to REPAIRS, FF? By JOHN KOTLER Pott Staff Wrlltr BELLE GLADE - At the 30,000-acre A. Duda and Sons Daybreak Farms here, more than a billion radishes will be harvested between October and July. Six thousand acres were planted this year and the company will ship radishes valued at $2.5 million. They will be shipped throughout the United States, Canada and overseas. Farm manager Warren Battle said, "Radishes mature in about a month after they are planted while most vegetables take 70 to 90 days." Battle said the radishes are harvested and packed mechanically, "never touched by human hands." A mechanical harvester, built by the Duda engineering division, pulls the radish from the earth and tops off the green stem. They are hauled by truck to the packing house where the radishes are transferred to a conveyor belt. As they move along the conveyor belt, they are washed and sorted mechanically. Finally, machines pack them in 6-ounce and 12-ounce plastic Packing house workers remove the imperfect radishes, never touching the ones to be sold. Once packaged, the radishes are kept in "hydro-coolers" that drench the packages in cold water or vacuum coolers until they are shipped. Although radishes can be stored for long periods at cold temperatures, Battle said most shipments leave from one day to a week after harvest. Although Duda is the largest producer of radishes in the Glades, there are five other major radish growers, including Tern-Cole, South Bay Growers, Pioneer Growers, Gressinger Bros, and Chatman Farms. Radishes are only one of the vegetables grown by Duda in the Glades. Others are celery, sweet corn, lettuce and green beans. The company also grows sugarcane and is affiliated with the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, which operates a mill here. The company, founded by Andrew Duda Sr. in 1912 near Orlando, is now a multinational corporation with over 100,000 acres in Florida. Duda recently purchased Southland Produce which operates farms in the west. It also owns and leases some 3 million acres of cattleland in Australia. SUH Photo iy Goorgo Wtddtng Ken Kiskaden at Tedders' Chevron Service ... itimatet 'just good busintst'