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Henry Nagy - Spancrete Industries

August 2001

Name: Henry Nagy

Date of Birth, Place: June 23, 1908, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

High School: Vocational Arts & Business School in Dombovar, Hungary

College: Structural Engineering Institute - University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Family: Wife- Mary, Son- Robert Nagy & Daughter- Elaine Kraut(Nagy). I have six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Hobbies: Traveling and spending time with family

First position in Concrete Industry: 1927, Jaeger Sand & Gravel Company

Significant mentor early in career: Father-in-law, Henry Jaeger, taught me that hard work and honesty could bring success.

How did you get started in your own business: I started this business in 1944 with one young man, 18 years old, and from one we got six employees. Once we had six people we were in business.  We manufactured concrete blocks and we didn’t manufacture many until I bought new equipment and more automated equipment.  First, when I started in the concrete business and then the Spancrete business, I had to take care of the books and the time book with several employees and I would give it to the auditor once a month and he would take care of it.  I had to mix the concrete for the blocks and help produce it, deliver it and do a lot of the labor work for customers.  It wasn’t all that easy in the beginning.  Then in 1953, I purchased the first hollow core extruder from a German inventor and the Spancrete process was born. I bought the patents and brought the machine over from Meinz, Germany. The machine had been hit by a bomb during the war so we needed to straighten out the steel on the machine. We set it up on our casting beds, and tried to run it and after months of perseverance, we finally started making precast plank. This was a real challenge for me to bring something new into this country that they had never seen before.

Significant improvement to precast in the past 20 years:  In this century, the development of precast concrete has been one of the best building materials that has ever come about in this world.  The precast industry has come a long way in both the variety and uses of structural and architectural products.  Precast has been able to provide customers with speed of construction and design flexibility without losing sight of the quality and durability of precast.   The development of precast hollow core insulated 8’ wall panels was a significant improvement to the building industry.  Spancrete hollow core walls panels are so versatile they can be installed either horizontally or vertically while being load bearing or non-load bearing.  These wall panels have given designers maximum design freedom in new construction as well as in renovations and additions to existing structures.  In addition, insulated wall panels better insulate then any other wall construction system so energy cost savings are immediately realized by owners and tenants and enhance the resale value of the building.   With the energy costs rising, precast hollow core wall panels have been a great improvement to the building industry by helping lower heating and cooling costs.  Also, wall panel finishes require minimal maintenance and are highly resistant to damage from impact and environmental elements.

Upcoming challenges for the industry: I believe in the future that precast will continue do many great things for the building industry. Constant research and development will be needed in order to make available the most innovative precast products and processes for the precast industry.   In this competitive world, we will need to continuously be aware of the industry and strive to meet the needs of this changing world. Technology will bring about much change in the way we do things in the future and companies will need to be prepared for the influence information systems will have on the development of products and systems for the building industry.

Advice to those new to the industry:  Being successful in this industry was a challenging and exciting experience for me over the years. The company growing from a two-man block plant into a multi-million dollar company, with over 700 employees and multiple locations did not come all on my own account.    The success of the company came through surrounding myself with good people all my life and that was always my number one project, to find good people to work for us.  I determined a long time ago that some of my greatest assets were my employees and that I needed to respect and reward their efforts.  Together, with the help of my family and employees the company has really come along way.

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