Contractor's Soap Box for Spring 2015 Concrete News
An Interview with Phil McKeone, founder and owner of Daedalus Construction located in Omaha, NE.
Phil McKeone, President and Owner of Daedalus Construction was born in Nebraska in 1952. Phil graduated from Creighton Prep in 1970 and began working in concrete construction. From there, he went on to attend Creighton University until 1973, when he left early. He then founded Daedalus Construction in 1977. In 1987, he became the president and sole stockholder of the company. Phil handles all the daily operations of the company and is active on all projects.
JB: Please give us a little background on your concrete contracting company and what markets Daedalus focuses on.
PK: We handle a lot of diverse types of concrete work. Some of our markets are residential, commercial, structural, civil, and repair work. We've done lots of work on the roads in Omaha, rehab road work. We've done various parts of Dodge street. But what we really like are the structural concrete jobs, specifically parking decks. Those are right in line with the type of work we shoot to get.
JB: How far back does your relationship with L&M go? Can you tell our readers about its origins?
PK: We go back 33 years with Greg and Larry. They have had some amazing guys over the years. L&M was always our go-to construction chemicals manufacturer because if we didn't know a solution to a concrete problem, those guys would come out and help us. Like the Emeryplate floor we once did. We ran into sagging issues and they came out and helped troubleshoot it. We had put 7 million pounds of concrete onto those wooden shored floors. Eventually the wood fatigued. It was the L&M guys that helped us figured it out. That's the kind of relationship we have with them. L&M has been a great source for us throughout the years.
JB: How has the concrete industry changed over the years?
PK: Look, this is hard work. This is one of the hardest jobs a guy can do out there. The labor force has always been tough to maintain and the competition's wages dropped quite a bit. It can be tough to compete with that. Maybe some of the quality went down, too. The economy has come back quite a bit, though. We had a great 2014.
JB: How does Daedalus differentiate itself from the competition? What actions have you found that make you guys successful?
PK: We try to keep it really focused. We like to do footings and structural concrete. And we like to do parking decks. We like to go up in the air. We consider ourselves more of an urban concrete contractor. That's just where you find the more structural type of jobs. They aren't typically out in the suburbs. I don't do suburban work if I don't have to.
JB: What's your favorite part about the concrete business?
PK: It's a great life. I love it. My town is great. Concrete's been great to me. I get to work out on our pours. I'm doing bids, but I don't like doing the bids as much as I like pouring.
JB: What's your least favorite part about this business?
PK: People problems with customers and employees. Learning how to compromise. Unrealistic schedules are painful.
JB: Daedalus has had lots of success with L&M's salt and water repellent, AQUAPEL™. Can you tell us how you use the product and some creative applications perhaps not known to other users?
PK: We are very big on sealing joints with AQUAPEL™. I try to get OPPD & MUD [Omaha area electric and water utilities companies, respectively] to just use the product, to get 3 drums of AQUAPEL™ and start spraying. L&M AQUAPEL™ does a tremendous job of sealing the joints and the areas surrounding the joints. We have made great headway in concrete parking lots. People could do it themselves with this fabulous productó AQUAPEL™ is just that easy to put down. I've told them how important it is to protect those joints and their new parking decks. Some listen, others don't want to make the tiny investment in their multi-million dollar parking deck.
We Aquapel'd every one of the saw joints on a million dollar repair job. No one does anything about paving maintenance. I put it on the Roncalli high school parking lot. You can't ruin the joint if the salt doesn't get into it. I see a lot of joint damage here in Omaha. It's everywhere.
JB: What made you want to go into concrete?
PK: I just loved it. I always thought it was great. I thought I couldn't afford to do anything else. I thought, "This is such a tough job, who would ever want to do this?"
I started out as a laborer in 1971. I wanted a job where I would always have work. I always swore I'd never get into sales, because my dad was in sales, and now I'm in sales. [Laughs.] We started fixing driveways in 1977, and I've been selling concrete since then.
President & Owner
4229 Lafayette Avenue
Omaha, NE 68131
© 2015 L&M Construction Chemicals, Inc. | ConcreteNews Summer 2015.