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Volumetric Mixer Truck Driver Tells All

Putnam Volumetric Mixer

To share a bit of what it’s like to drive and operate one of our vehicles, we reached out to a customer to get his perspective on life out in the field. We’d like to introduce you to Brett Beigert, owner of Putnam Mobile Mix, and owner/operator of a Holcombe volumetric mixer truck.

Brett’s been happily married for 27 years and is the proud father of what he describes as his “two awesome adult children.”

He started out in the concrete industry more than 30 years ago as a fleet delivery driver. Now, as a seasoned veteran, he uses the knowledge and skills he developed over three-plus decades to support his customers and their needs.

Brett started Putnam Mobile Mix in 2013. “We took the leap of faith and jumped for our future. We are a niche business in a great location with access to locally sourced materials, good infrastructure, and solid clientele. We pride ourselves on being prompt, courteous and reliable,” he said.

We will let him share his experiences in his own voice:

Brett’s most memorable day/job/project

“It’s difficult to pick just one. We did what started as a footing for a good customer, about 30-40 yards. Two loads, direct pour into his truck crane with my concrete bucket. The job was hard to figure because the bottom of the footing was an irregular rock ledge with a steep pitch. We started at 8:00 a.m. and with every load we realized we were in for a long day with one truck! The last load was at 10:00 p.m. It took that long because the crane was fully extended and because of the time between delivery. The job finished at 88 total yards — done solo.”

Brett’s best day on the job

“While I’ve had many great days on the job, too many to list, the absolute best day was my first. The combination of starting a business, quitting/leaving a long-term job, not having any customers, and never having operated a volumetric mixer came into focus on my first job. A few words that can describe my feelings are freedom, challenge, and reward. To succeed you have to take a leap of faith into the unknown; and if you’re married, you need the blessing of your spouse.”

Brett’s worst day on the job

“This one is easy; but first, let me explain that there are many challenges in this business. As owner-operators, we drive on and off-road, we must understand and perform quality control of our mix, order raw materials and supplies in a timely manner, perform equipment maintenance along with fixing breakdowns on the fly, ensuring customers pay on time, and much more.

“My worst day was avoidable and my fault. I had noticed some wear on the conveyor splice. I was new to the volumetric industry, and while trying to slay the many dragons in business, I failed to adjust the conveyor correctly. Over time the splice wore out, sand started to build up behind it, and it tore. The truck had four yards of material in it. My son and I had to shovel it out into the loader. Then I parked the truck and called Holcombe to order a new conveyor and was down for two weeks. Lesson learned!”

Brett’s favorite customer/client

“I don’t have just one favorite customer. Characteristics that make a good customer include good communication, a prepared job site, and respect for all parties upon delivery. This applies to us as well. We try to be punctual, provide great service and product, and make each project a positive experience.”

Brett’s favorite part of the job

“My favorite part is being part of the whole process, from loading materials to delivering and making a product. I like troubleshooting a problem and repairing it while using my network to get through the issue, or helping an inexperienced customer have a good outcome.”

Brett’s favorite type of project

“My favorite types of projects are those we are not on for extended periods, where we leave the customer happy, and the customer lets us know their stress level is low when we are on a job.”

Brett’s least favorite type of project

“My least favorite jobs come with unrealistic expectations. Typically, that means a challenging job site with limited places to position a loaded mixer. That usually involves off-road on unstable ground and wet conditions. Having spent most of my adult life operating trucks and heavy equipment in these conditions, too often a customer does not believe me when I can see trouble ahead and I tell them my concerns about how it will end up.

“I’ve learned to maintain my position respectfully to avoid approaching a project in a way that costs you and damages your equipment. When you’re more experienced, then you can determine what does and does not make sense.”

If there was one thing you could fix or change about your job, what is it and why?

“One solution I wish we could figure out is how to minimize the powder plume when mixing. It makes it difficult to keep such a high value, beautiful truck clean.”

When you start the day, what to you is a sign it will be a good day? Maybe a not-so-good day?

“The sole indicator for me of how the day will go is determined by the first job. Maybe even the first phone call. Usually if it starts off bad or off, it seems like more things typically go wrong throughout the day.”

What do you like about driving/using a Holcombe mixer truck?

“The ease-of-use in set-up and automation is the first thing on the list of what I like about Holcombe. They keep improving the mixer by implementing different design and use ideas that make sense. Quality components, ease-of-use, and dependable reliability with the correct maintenance schedule keep me running with little downtime.”

Have you driven a barrel truck? How does that compare?

“In the late 1980s I had my first experience in a barrel mixer. It was a crane carrier with a chain drive barrel from the 70s. Over the years I drove an advanced front-discharge mixer and then the Oshkosh. The front barrel trucks are great to pour and be able to see and place material for projects like curbs or patios. You can pour faster as well. Emptying a truck in minutes at full discharge is rare. The 6 x 6 all-wheel drive is also great for off road pours. The concrete sets quicker in a cooler climate due to travel time and the chemical process. In hot weather, a flash shed is a problem for a barrel truck, so a chemical retardant is used, or ice, or liquid nitrogen.

“The biggest difference with a volumetric mixer is the water-to-cement ratio and mixing fresh material. Since we only add water one time as we mix, there is a lower ratio of water to cement, which increases the concrete’s strength. Also, when mixing fresh concrete on-site, the material temperatures are lower, so the concrete sets slower and with more strength. Besides benefits to the concrete product, we can also manipulate the mix design by adding sand, aggregate, or water on the job if needed. When a barrel truck shows up with a wet load, there’s no way to adjust the mix other than waiting for it to cure and dry up.

“One last benefit is if you over-order concrete in a barrel truck, you pay for the mixed material that’s left over and watch your money go down the road as it leaves the jobsite. We used to have 500 concrete ‘mafia’ blocks at a minimum from trucks bringing back extra concrete. So keep in mind that we have no waste in the volumetric industry.”

Embark your own adventures, make your own memories, and help people build their dreams. No day is ever the same behind the wheel of a Holcombe volumetric mixer truck, and every day is rewarding. We provide training, support, and resources for customers to ensure they know exactly how to operate the vehicle.

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