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Donald Faust

May 2005

Name: Donald Faust

Date of Birth, Place: November 23, 1929 Boyertown, PA

College: Bachelor of Science in Structural Engineering from Tri-State College, Angola, Indiana, 1952

Family: Wife Anne, and seven children: Janice, Donald Jr., Diane, Eileen, Joan, Janette, and Tom

Hobbies: Still involved with the plant and PCI because he’s a self-proclaimed workaholic.

First position in Concrete Industry (year and company): Structural Engineer for Concrete Products Company of America, September , 1955.

Present position in Concrete Industry: Retired president of Boden Industries, Pottstown, PA.

Boards and Committees: 2 terms on PCI Board of Directors, Chairman of Architectural Committee of PCI.

Most Significant Mentors:Sam Salvaggio, chief engineer at Concrete Products Co. of America who led the team that designed the first box void concrete beams still in use today.

Most Significant Improvement to Precast Industry: North Carolina National Bank in Tampa, FL, a round building made with precast concrete panels. “They said it couldn’t be done but it all fit together and we won a lot of awards for that.”

Challenges for the Industry: Training young architects and engineers in the use of precast and prestressed concrete products. This must be carried out in our colleges and universities. We have a great product line. Our story must be carried to the future designers and specifiers.

Advice to future Industry Icons: “Our industry is starving for young managers and engineers. Too many projects are being engineered outside the US due to lack of qualified engineers within the states. Young people who venture into our industry will find a friendly environment, ripe and ready in which they can contribute immediately. Those who choose to get involved and work hard will find success.”

More about Donald Faust:

From Tiny Producer to Precast Powerhouse
Donald Faust Takes the Industry By Storm

As a boy growing up in the small town of Boyertown, PA, Donald Faust dreamed of building bridges and he knew that the best way to accomplish his dream was to get a structural engineering degree. When he graduated from high school, Faust went to Tri-State college in Angola Indiana because it had a great engineering program and the small town feel that Faust had grown to love.
He graduated in 1952, and like so many of his peers, was quickly drafted into the army. When they learned of his degree, Faust was sent to Fort Belvoir in Indiana where he was given a science and professional personnel designation and assigned to teach engineering classes. “I wanted to go into engineering research and development but the group was filled,” he says so they made him an instructor..
He was put through a rigorous three month training program where he learned the course material, which covered topics such as how to build floating bridges, do concrete design, and set up sewage treatment in the battlefield. He was also taught how to teach. “It took months to learn, but I did it.” As a private he had students from the rank of privates to Lt. Colonel.
While in the army, he attended seminars and courses on prestressed concrete, the use and design, at George Washington University. After two years Faust got out of the Army and spent the next 14 years learning the concrete industry, building a reputation, and searching for a place where he could be happy and successful.

Fulfilling the Dream
In 1954 fresh from the army, he went to work for a contractor in Pennsylvania, called C. Raymond Davis and Son, and on September 11, 1954 married the girl he met while in the army, Anastasia Grall – they celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2004.
He left Davis after only a year to go to work for Concrete Products Corporation of America, a concrete manufacturer in Pottstown, PA that made concrete pipe and prestressed bridges. They put him to work in the engineering department, drafting and designing load tables. He worked under a chief engineer, named Sam Salvaggio who led the team to design a new prestressed concrete box beam with a rectangular void that is still in use today. “Sam was the brains behind that project,” Faust says. Together, they designed a void that could sustain the weight and vibration of a concrete pour and produced 50 and 70 foot test beams for the state of Pennsylvania. Faust worked with a team at Lehigh University to test the beams, and found them to be ideal for bridge work, and Faust finally got to fulfill his dream. “From 1956 to 1963 we bid, produced and erected hundreds of those bridges,” he says.
In 1963 Faust left Concrete Products Corporation, which had been bought by American Marietta Co. in 1957, to take a job at Formigli, a precast concrete producer whose main product was Architectural Concrete. It also produced bridges, double Ts, single Ts, and Spancrete hollow cored plank. This gave Faust a great opportunity to learn the architectural concrete business.
He left Formigli in 1966 to become plant manager for Eastern Industries in Allentown, PA where he was put in charge of the Lehigh Block and Pipe companies and later the Alco Construction Company – all of which were part of the Eastern business.
In 1967, he left Eastern Industries for Boeing Aircraft Company, where he was given the responsibility to oversee the design and construction of the wind tunnel support building and structure using architectural concrete; and the wind tunnel, which was a total precast concrete structure.
But by 1968, Faust was tired of working for other people making an employee’s salary. “I had seven kids by then and I decided if I was going to send them all to college I needed to own my own business,” he says.
He left Boeing in 1969 after both structures were complete, and headed back to Pottstown, where he bought a small steel framed building, which he dismantled and reassembled. He bough a Columbia block machine to make small masonry products such as coping, sills, blocks and pavers.
By day he ran the plant and by night he and his wife did the books and design work. “The laundry room was our office and the dining room was our drafting room,” he says of his beginnings as a business owner. In the first year he did about $40,000 worth of business, “and nearly starved.” But by the second year he did $170,000 worth of business. “It was getting better but it wasn’t a living,” he says.
During those early years, Faust’s business was primarily miscellaneous contract work for the smaller jobs that larger precasters didn’t want. Then a few years into the business, he gave a contractor a bid for sills and coping for a new office building, and the contractor, who had heard of Faust’s reputation and experience from Formigli, asked him to do the whole project. “He told me to stop messing with the little stuff and asked me for a price. I gave it to him and he gave me the project,” Faust says. “From then on, our reputation as an architectural producer grew.”
Faust was well-known in the industry and he got much of his early work through referrals from other contractors. The business grew steadily. By 1971 he was producing architectural work in small pieces; by 1973 he had outgrown his Pottstown plant and bought a larger one, and then another with two bays with a 20 ton crane capacity. “By then we could handle most any size,” he says.

A Buying Spree
By the late 70s Faust’s business was successful and he was intent on expanding. In 1980 on a trip to Texas to purchase equipment, he noticed two things: “Texas was full of tower cranes and the concrete being produced there was poor quality.” Seeing an opportunity, Faust and a partner bought West American Concrete in Waco, Texas, and two years later bought another plant in Laredo, Texas.
Unfortunately, the partnership was rocky, so Faust sold his part of the plants in Texas, and headed to Florida. He met a man named Bill Owens and during a meeting joked that Bill should sell him half of his architectural precast concrete plant. “He called me two days later and said he wasn’t interested in a partner, but offered to sell me the whole plant if I was interested,” Faust says.
He was. In 1984, Faust bought the plant and renamed it Universal Cochran Concrete. At the time, there were 12 architectural concrete producers in Florida and his was the smallest. But that quickly changed. In 1992, he bought his biggest competitor in Kissimmee, Florida making Universal the largest architectural precast producer in that state. “As time went on we lost some competitors and bought others,” he says. And in 1996 he added Cut Art Stone, a modern architectural precast plant in Savannah, Georgia to his fleet of plants.
By this time, Faust’s business had grown from a tiny facility that did projects too small for other producers to bother with, to one of the largest and most powerful architectural precast companies in the business. In 2000, he had more than 500 total employees and controlled 60 percent of the architectural precast market in Florida alone. He also maintained a strong presence on the East Coast.
His plan had paid off. He managed to put all seven kids through college – and three of them through grad school.
However by 2001, at the age of 72, Faust was ready to slow down. He was running the Florida and Georgia operations, while his oldest son, Donald Jr., ran the East Coast operations. The East Coast business included a million square foot plant in Pottstown, and a custom made plant in Folsom New Jersey that was built by the employees as a way to teach them how to pour architectural precast. “They did everything except the double T roof,” Faust marvels. “They had experience pouring concrete, but they needed to learn to place architectural concrete and they did a great job.”
Faust sold his Florida and Georgia operations that year, but still keeps a hand in the east coast plants when he spends time in his home in Pennsylvania. Happy that his son was there to take on the business, Faust laments that fact that the industry has so few young people in it. “When I joined this industry it was a young man’s business. Prestressed concrete was just starting out,” he says. “But as the years went by, everyone got old. Suddenly we are all ready to retire and it’s a challenge to find young people with engineering backgrounds to replace us.”
Faust fears that if efforts aren’t made to bring new people into the business more and more work will be farmed out to companies in other countries. “Engineers in India work for less money, and there just aren’t enough engineers in the States,” he warns.
“We need to pay attention to this to keep jobs in the US.”

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