Partial Transcript of the interview from Iron Times.
What’s the story behind that name, WYROC?
My father was a cement salesman. One of his clients was Wiley Brothers Transit Mix. One of the brothers passed away, and the other brother wanted to sell. So my dad bought the company and went out of the cement business and went into the ready-mix concrete business. He shortened the name to Wiley Transit Mix, and then found that he’d have more opportunities and better market if he got out of the ready-mix business and focused just on supplying rock and gravel, and shortened the name to Wiley Rock, and eventually shortened that to WYROC. He kept the goodwill from Wiley over all the years, plus it was kind of a tradition back then that a lot of the competitors and rock suppliers had some kind of abbreviated word and then “rock.” As the company changed, we differentiated because we took the K off it. So we’re now W-Y-R-O-C.
WYROC is one of the few aggregate companies that works with recycled materials rather than virgin rock. How did you get into recycled rock?
We transitioned into that over the years. I think we were one of the first in Southern California. The last time they did a measure, we were number three in the nation in recycling. To put a little bit of a scope to it, if you look at curbside recycling, we would recycle, back in the day, probably twice the amount that they would do to curbside recycling from North LA to the border of Mexico and on the west, to the Pacific and to the East, the border of California. As a result, we have significantly diverted material from the landfill into a building product.
The past few years have been difficult for the construction industry. What have you learned during the down economy and how have you adapted?
We’ve had to change on several levels. First, geographically, there are areas that we serviced that are just completely dead. So, we have closed those operations. We no longer supply to them, because they don’t have a need. What we’re also doing is expanding our offering. Our offering before, and continues to be, a bulk product sold in the big 18-wheel trucks you see on the road. We’re also looking at different ways to package it in polybags or what they call super sacks, which are one-ton sacks they can put in the back of a pickup truck. What that does is it gives the consumer access to a recycled green product that they never had before. So that is a new niche.
Your company maintains eight core values. Can you sum up the values of WYROC?
The overlying thing is, we want to be known as passionately innovative. I think that’s been our tradition. Being the first one to recycle and now moving into a new consumer market. Everything with our values not only supports that, but also insists on a civility between each other and our customers. That is a core thing – be responsive and react appropriately, and solve their problems.
Any Signs of Improvement in the Economy?
My expectations are for not much of an improvement in the bulk market. That’s probably going to remain slow for some time. We’re seeing some matching by the government with different measures and programs. Those probably will not trickle down – at least in any immediate way – to the consumer and the homebuilder. That will put public employees to work, but it isn’t going to affect the private industry probably that much.
Do you have any advice for someone who is running their own business during in this economy?
The thing that I’ve taken out of going through this change in this economy is I define myself pretty narrowly as kind of a quirky industry. You know – Fred Flintstone. Every time you talk about it, people just shake their head. You start getting a mindset that maybe you’re not special, but you’re unique, and your problems are unique. What I’ve discovered through networking and discussions is there are core problems that exist across all industries. They’re just flavored a little bit different. There are solutions that you can reach to. You just have to tweak it a little bit to make it on point for yourself. So, don’t think you’re so special that you can’t pick up a good business book and get principles out of it that you can apply.
If you could meet someone who’s living or dead; who would it be?
Joshua Chamberlain. He was a Colonel at Gettysburg. He was in charge of holding one of the flanks. He was from Maine. He was basically given the charge, “You hold this line. If you don’t, we will lose.” He had 200 men to start with. He was down to 80 and no ammunition. The Confederates were re-mounting for a charge, and he told his men, “Fix bayonets – charge!” with no ammo. They couldn’t believe the order, but they did it. When the Confederates saw that, they surrendered, and he saved the day.
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