Wed June 02, 2021
When Michael Bercowetz approached his father, Donald, about a new role that he wanted to fill in the family business, DMR Materials, it was after several years of observing the materials production and sale industry, how their own business operated and how their competitors' businesses operated.
From where Michael stood, he didn't always like what he saw. He had gone to school for business and marketing and at times he was concerned that the principles he had been taught in higher education did not seem to be applied in particular when it came to dealing with customers in the construction materials industry.
"To be perfectly honest with you, I found that people in our industry who were dealing with customers for starters were not particularly nice," he said. "They didn't treat a customer like a customer. Often, they were not well educated about the product they were selling, or they had no vested interest in helping the customer, and they certainly were not motivated."
"I had worked around my dad's business in a lot of different capacities for years and I just felt strongly that our business could grow exponentially if we approached the customer a different way."
DMR Materials, located in Bloomfield, Conn., just minutes from downtown Hartford, serves greater Hartford County. The company supplies landscape and construction materials to construction companies, contractors and homeowners, no matter how small or large in quantity. Each material purchased is weighed on a certified public weight scale, with each transaction calculated to the last pound to ensure all customers receive exactly what they pay for. The backside, so to speak, of DMR Materials is a significant recycling facility that accepts concrete, dirt and asphalt for recycling from contractors across the region. These items are recycled into high quality construction materials.
Michael felt strongly that by addressing and completely revolutionizing how the customer is addressed at DMR Materials that the company could successfully set itself apart from its competition. Donald liked what he heard and the rest, as they say, is history.
According to Michael, "One of the basic fundamentals that we instill is to spend time with the customer and really listen to what their needs are. When a customer calls DMR Materials, we pride ourselves on the fact that they are typically on the phone for 10 to 15 minutes. We get excited when a customer calls; we want to hear about their project, take notes on what their needs are, match their needs to our materials and make sure they are getting the right amount of materials.
"Just as importantly, we want to make sure they are getting the right material. We want to come across as professionals and, frankly, professional is not a term you hear very often in this business. For whatever reason people in our industry quit treating the customer like they were a customer and started treating them more like they are a necessary pain. I know that when I am the customer for a product, I want to be treated like I'm somebody special and that's what we have tried to convey to every one of our employees; treat the customer like they are someone special."
Along with changing the general tone of DMR Materials, Michael also set about giving the yard a general facelift. Material bins were reorganized and cleaned up to give the yard a better look. Material storage buildings were added to keep weather sensitive materials properly protected. Each day the yard is swept to give it a clean and appealing look.
Essentially Michael gave the facility a facelift making it more inviting to the customer.
Greater attention was paid to major projects being let in the area with innovative thinking being applied as to how materials that needed to be removed from those projects could be received into the recycling facility and /or materials delivered to those projects more efficiently, making DMR Materials a more competitive vendor with strong customer friendly communication from the beginning to the end of the project.
All of these moves have combined to make DMR Materials a premier supplier to contractors in the greater Hartford area.
Michael Bercowetz has proven to be an innovator. This comes as no surprise to his father Donald, whose family has a proud history of hard work and innovation. His family immigrated to the United States from Russia at the turn of the century and his grandfather, Kalmar, started a farm in Bloomfield, Conn. That farm soon had its own meat packing plant.
Innovation came into play when that meat packing plant matured into the area's first grocery superstore. The store was so large and offered such a diversity of products that it became a destination shopping center.
In 1978, Donald left the family business to pursue his own business ventures. He joined forces with J.R. Daddario to form A.F. Daddario Inc., a general contracting company.
Initially, they purchased a loader and started a gravel bank stone operation. They soon found that was not generating the type of revenue they were looking for so they got bonded and expanded the operation into utility contracting work, which expanded and grew quite well until 1989 when the bottom fell out of the economy in New England.
According to Donald Bercowetz, "The economy was so challenging in the late '80s and early '90s, we were forced to move the company entirely in a new direction. So, we formed American Materials, one of the area's first construction recycling facilities for recycling asphalt, concrete and dirt. On the surface, this looked to be a no-brainer move; charge contractors to receive their construction materials, recycle those materials into usable construction products and resell them. However, the production costs for recycling those materials turned out to be exceedingly high.
"It took a long time with a lot of trial and error to find the right formula to get the production costs in line to make the operation profitable. One of the keys was not actually owning the crushing and screening equipment. The cost of ownership was way too high. It turned out that stockpiling the materials and renting the equipment was a better alternative."
Through process of trial and error American Materials improved its processes, became far more selective of the materials its accepted, and eventually went through a name change to the DMR Materials that it is known as today.
Michael and Donald have worked hard to fine tune the products they manufacture to meet spec and meet the needs of their customers. Products include 2 in. recycled process, 1-1/4 in. recycled process, 1-1/4 in. recycled driveway process, ½ in. recycled process and millings. In addition to the recycled products, they also offer a large variety of landscape products to fit contractor and landscaper needs.
The equipment needs of an operation like DMR Materials are expansive and diverse. In addition to its processing equipment, such as its crushing and screening equipment, it has a significant fleet of excavators and loaders that is made up almost exclusively of John Deere equipment purchased from W.I. Clark.
Their relationship with W.I. Clark started in 2008 with the purchase of a John Deere 724 loader.
According to Donald, "To be perfectly honest with you, what really initially got our attention with John Deere was just how great the people at John Deere Financing were to work with. Without getting into a lot of detail, I'll just say that their flexibility and terms were better than anyone else we had ever dealt with.
"2008 was a difficult time for everyone and John Deere Financing's willingness to work with us was very impressive. So, a few years later, when it was time for us to buy again, we naturally went to W.I. Clark and this time purchased a John Deere 644K loader. Soon after that, we purchased a John Deere 244J compact loader. Since that time, we have added a John Deere skid steer, a 724J loader, a 744K Series II loader, a 324L loader and a 300G excavator.
"It was certainly the John Deere financing that initially got out attention and the John Deere product has been excellent. But, just as important, W.I. Clark's service and the attention of their staff has kept us coming back.
"Greg Hurlburt, our sales representative with W.I. Clark, takes extremely good care of us. He helps us think out our purchases and match the right machine to our needs and plan ahead for our future needs. He has never let us down.
"I think relationships are important and I am loyal unless given a reason not to be. Doug Hansen, president of W.I. Clark, has also made his presence felt at our business. Getting that kind of attention is important to us. Some of the suggested equipment that W.I. Clark has brought to the table has really affected our bottom line. Our new John Deere 300G excavator has been a particularly good investment for us. Between improved fuel efficiency and increase cycle times we are saving approximately $1,300.00 a month in fuel." CEG