A Builder of the ACPA Bids Farewell 2006
Tom Anderson, recently retired president of Schwing America, Inc., and perennial ACPA Board member also retired from the Association this past spring. He leaves behind a vital, financially strong company and Association. His history of service to Schwing and the ACPA will be hard to match.
“Thirty two years ago, the industry was trying to get established, much less the ACPA, and no one worked harder to make them both go than Tom, “reminisces ACPA treasurer, concrete pump specialist and former manufacturing executive Bob Weatherton. In those days there were more than 30 manufacturers and a lack of information on how to pump concrete. One of the early goals of the ACPA was to become a clearinghouse of information. “More than 50 percent of the questions were about mix designs,” Weatherton remembers.
In the 70s, Anderson had the formidable challenge of helping to build an industry, a company and an association from the ground up simultaneously. Part of this was to help the small business owners who had signed on to make a living pumping concrete. “As the industry evolved, Tom was the leader many of the new pumpers turned to,” recalls Ed Lothamer, longtime ACPA member and concrete pumping contractor, “And Tom was often the guy we turned to when the ACPA needed a project handled.”
“Tom knew mixes and he knew how to pump concrete,” explains Pat Inglese, current ACPA president, owner of Pioneer Concrete Pumping and an early Schwing dealer, “He grew up in the industry.” As a regular member of the manufacturers committee, Anderson was influential in establishing safety standards and financing the development of many of the safety materials in use today. “I saw the need but the Schwing family opened up their wallets at a time when the whole industry was struggling to get traction, “ reflects Anderson on Schwing’s commitment to safety, “I will always be grateful to the parent company for their backing of myself and the ACPA.”
Despite his respected position as the head of Schwing America, Anderson promoted cohesiveness between manufacturers. “He made sure everyone had an equal say. I don’t think there would be a manufacturers committee without him,” Lothamer says.
“In the early days ACPA members struggled with the fact that a lot of what we were doing was going to benefit non-members as well, but I felt the Association should be the leader and more members would follow, “ Anderson recalls, “It was our responsibility to do the work and develop the market in a professional manner.”
Anderson says his early inspirations in the ACPA were, “Dozens of pumpers who were the true leaders regionally.” Among others he mentions, ““Bob Weatherton for his dedication, Les Ainsworth for his strong work ethic, Ed Lothamer’s leadership qualities, Dick Henry’s business acumen, Pat Inglese’s commitment to safety and ConForms financial contributions.”
Anderson’s input as a manufacturers representative to the ACPA Board came from a depth of knowledge few could match. His 32 year career at Schwing was preceded by several years operating concrete pumps. “When Tom spoke, you listened because he actually tried a new Schwing innovation himself before recommending it, “Inglese recalls, “And many of the early innovations were Tom’s ideas that Schwing implemented. I’m not sure the modern concrete pump or all of us would be here today without him.”
Anderson’s input and leadership wasn’t confined to equipment. In the early 80s, he was successful in fighting the IRS and obtaining a Federal Excise Tax exemption on the truck chassis and fuel for all concrete pumpers. The net savings to the industry is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. He was also an early supporter of the World of Concrete, of which Schwing is a charter exhibitor.
“Tom recognized the important issues that affected all the manufacturers at the time. He pushed to get a pump on a state project. That sounds ridiculous today that the states wouldn’t allow concrete pumping. But those were the enormous hurdles we had to get over and Tom was a champion with his tireless efforts and the generosity of Schwing’s money,” according to Weatherton, “A lot of credit goes to his wife Maureen for the sacrifices the Anderson family made in those years.”
One of the farthest reaching contributions Anderson made is to train early devotees of concrete pumping. “He groomed some of the powerhouse pumpers of today, “Weatherton notes, “What he brought to business, he also brought to the Association which was to help the industry grow. It was all about the customer.”
In many cases, a successful career is marked by cut throat business tactics and a history of hard feelings among competitors. Not Andersons. He has been elected to the ACPA Board of Directors as a Manufacturer since 1984. Rival manufacturers elected him unanimously as President of the Concrete Pump Manufacturers Association. His employees maybe said it best when a crystal concrete pump was presented to him at his retirement luncheon. The plaque reads “You are loved, respected and will never be forgotten.”
How will Tom Anderson be remembered? According to Inglese, “He brought common sense to the ACPA board that will be missed because he’s been there and done that when it comes to pumping.“