307 – Bill Sandbrook: President & CEO of U.S. Concrete

mc-newsmaker-qa-concrete-ceo-bill-sandbrook-20160813Bill Sandbrook, President & CEO of U.S. Concrete has quite the impressive resume. In addition having advanced degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, he is also a 1979 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, spent thirteen years in the U.S. Army, including a four-year tour in Germany, and possesses two more Masters: in Public Policy from the Naval War College and in International Relations from Salve Regina University. In recognition of his efforts at Ground Zero after the September 11th bombing of the World Trade Center, he was named the Rockland County, NY 2002 Business Leader of the Year; the Dominican College 2002 Man of the Year; and the American Red Cross 2003 Man of the Year for Southern New York.

As it relates to U.S. Concrete, the Company was founded in the late 1990s as a roll-up of ready-mix and concrete related businesses and the value proposition was that it would be the largest publicly-traded single-product-category company traded domestically. They went around the country buying most of these companies with stock and then presented it to Wall Street as a large ready-mix company to invest in. When everything peaked in 2006/2007, they had all these dots on the map that equaled about $750 million in revenue, but they had never built out any significant market positions. This meant that when everybody stopped building, they couldn’t service their debt and in 2010, which led to them filing for bankruptcy.

U.S. Concrete’s BOD was looking to quickly change the corporate culture while generating much-needed shareholder equity, and hired Mr. Sandbrook in July 2011. As he will tell you, it was a tough decision. The Company wasn’t very attractive, bonuses hadn’t been paid out in a long time, and it meant taking a significant pay cut. I don’t want to take all of the suspense out of it, so I will let him fill you in on why he decided to take the job should you elect to speak with him. To make matters worse, at the end of 2011, the stock traded at less than $2 per share.

After taking the job, he sold off low-margin businesses the previous regime acquired (precast concrete and concrete block), and refocused the company to concentrate entirely on producing ready-mixed concrete in four core markets with high barriers to entry and population growth: NYC, SF, Dallas and Washington, DC. Today, USCR holds the top market position in the NY metropolitan area, top two in Dallas and top three in DC. He used the proceeds from those dispositions to acquire a ready-mix business in San Francisco, which set the course for the turnaround, as it symbolized the company was ready to be a major player in the industry again, buying at a time when no one else was. Furthermore, he relocated its headquarters to Euless from Houston, as Houston was over 200 miles away from its nearest plant.  Thus far, USCR has made over 20 acquisitions under Bill. Today, the stock is trading at over $77.50 per share!

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