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Superior Walls of the Midlands Relies on Cat Machines to Get the Job Done Right

Wed October 30, 2002 - Southeast Edition
E. Lee Griggs

Superior Walls and its franchises have been innovative from the very beginning.

Superior Walls of America was founded in Lancaster, PA, in 1981, by Mel Zimmerman, a Pennsylvania builder. He wanted a better residential wall system than what was available at the time, so he began testing what soon was to be a revolutionary residential wall system.

In 1986, the first licensed operation began and quickly spread across the United States and overseas with more than 40,000 installations. The system, which was envisioned as a solution to basement moisture problems, is widely recognized as a solution to all types of building needs.

The process consists of precast concrete wall panels composed of a minimum 5,000 psi concrete with Fibermesh reinforcement.

Panels are available in 4-ft, 4-ft. 8-in., 8-ft. 2-in., 9-ft. and 10-ft. (1.2, 1.4 m, 2.5 m, 2.7 m, and 3 m) wall heights and come with steel reinforced concrete studs providing added strength and a 7.5-in. (19 cm) deep wall cavity that may be filled with additional insulation if desired.

The studs, 1 in. (2.5 cm) in diameter holes, allow for quick installation of wiring and small diameter plumbing. Treated wood nailers are factory-installed to the inside edges of the concrete studs, making the walls ready for the addition of drywall or other paneling.

Styrofoam insulation is already positioned on each panel providing an R-5 insulating value that can be increased to R-24 utilizing additional insulation.

Superior Walls backs this product with a 15-year warranty.

Superior Walls Systems LLC, of Oxford and Salisbury, NC, is the parent franchise holder in North Carolina and South Carolina, managed by Dave Varner. Superior Walls of the Midlands is a sub-franchise located in Richland County, Columbia, SC. Ron Trueblood’s franchise covers Richland and Lexington counties, with all territory adjacent to the two county lines.

Trueblood’s company does it all. In seven to 10 days, it can clear land, excavate a basement, put in a septic system — if needed — put in a driveway and erect the basement walls, floor trusses for the first floor, backfill and grade and clean up – all while leaving no trash or debris onsite.

"I can go out in the country and do an installation – where the large companies couldn’t afford to do that – and the customer doesn’t have to deal with a masonry contractor, grader, carpenters and other as we do the whole job," Trueblood said. "With one phone call you have one contractor to do the whole job and you don’t have to deal with 10 or more people. And, you have a 15-year warranty on the job and is backed up by a company that has been in business for more than 30 years."

Trueblood said that he subcontracts less than 30 percent of any work. He has his own trucks and owns his equipment for the job.

"We have roughly two crews on site," Trueblood said. "We have two dozers, two backhoes and two track hoes. The track hoe is a perfect piece of equipment for clearing a lot, for taking out trees and then we will have labor running the chain saws, etc., the dozer keeping everything pushed up. Then we go into the excavation of the basement with the track hoes digging out dirt and the dozers keeping it up so we don’t have erosion problems. Then we fine grade the basement and start putting in stone."

Superior Walls of the Midlands maintains a $1-million to $1.5-million equipment inventory, all Caterpillar iron purchased from Blanchard Machinery Company, of West Columbia.

Trueblood started out using John Deere equipment, exclusively, but then Brian Smith, sales representative of Blanchard, came along and turned Trueblood on to Caterpillar.

"If every company could get a salesman like Brian, then they would really have something. He goes out and pays attention to the customers’ needs. He looks at their problems, asks questions and comes up with solutions. As a result of his coming up with solutions I now use Caterpillar equipment instead of John Deere. Blanchard services the customer and that’s what really counts. I use Caterpillar equipment because it is quality and I want quality operators to run it. Quality equipment attracts quality operators," Trueblood said.

"Customer relationship is exactly what Blanchard offers and that is what Smith offers me. He understands the problems, the needs and concerns, how to overcome the fears and anxieties and satisfying those. He is not a one-timer seller but keeps on working with the account. That is what a company like mine needs," he said.

Of all the challenges that Trueblood surmounts every day, the one he finds most formidable is finding good, qualified people to work for his company.

"Columbia, SC, is pretty much a white-collar town. If you need a secretary or office manager or someone in accounting or something, you can find them. But if you need someone in the blue collar field, especially someone with work experience who wants to work correctly and not just loaf on the job, that’s hard to come by," he began. "I am not looking for someone who had a state road job and just wants to lean on a shovel. I have four pieces of equipment sitting idle now because I can’t find qualified operators."

Working for Trueblood is demanding, but it is his customer-driven focus and his entrepreneurship that makes it easy to understand why – he’s simply passionate about his business and expects that same commitment from his employees.

After high school, Trueblood entered the U.S. Marine Corps. When he left the military worked in an office but didn’t like it – he missed being outside.

Two years ago, a friend mentioned that he could make a lot more money operating a backhoe of his own

"How do I do that? Where do I sign up?" Trueblood asked. Soon, he set about doing it

Trueblood went to his boss’ office and explained what he was going to do. "My boss thought I was crazy," he said. "I quickly ran over to Associates Finance and borrowed $5,000 for a down payment and then ran over to John Deere before the loan got on my credit report. I had never run one before in my life. I went home and practiced a little that evening and went to work on a major job at the Koger Center in Columbia the next day.

"I don’t recommend that to everybody but I am a really confident person and can bite things off. It wasn’t perfect but it came real quick. I just take pride in everything I do. I want to be the best at what I do. I guess that goes back to the Marine Corps.," he explained.

Trueblood added, "People tell me that but really I am nice guy. The Marine Corps pretty much helped me form my work ethics. If everyone had a chance to go through boot camp this would be a better world. I believe in having goals and getting the job done. I am extremely intense. One of my people was in the other day and we were talking. I said I don’t ask any of you to do anything I wouldn’t do and he said, ’Well that doesn’t mean anything because no one can keep up with what you do.’ He said, ’When I came here I never had anyone I couldn’t keep up with work-wise but that’s not true anymore."

He went on to say, "I am very specific task oriented and the first thing I ask for is customer care and attention. That customer is the most valuable person in the world."

For more information, call 803/359-1569.

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