P&Q Hall of Fame Profile: William J. Sandbrook

By |  February 28, 2018

William J. Sandbrook

William J. “Bill” Sandbrook is vice chairman, president and CEO of U.S. Concrete, a publicly traded company with several aggregate operations.

Since arriving at U.S. Concrete in July 2011, Sandbrook has taken the company’s price per share from under $2 to around $83 (as of press time). This accomplishment is even more remarkable considering the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

Upon his arrival, Sandbrook realized U.S. Concrete suffered from a culture of centralized decision-making, thus stripping local management of both responsibility and accountability for results. In order to overcome that, it was imperative he listen to employees so he could provide them the tools they needed to thrive, as well as provide support for decentralized decision-making.

Sandbrook developed a personal connection with as many of his employees as possible, spending 80 percent on his time on the road his first year at U.S. Concrete, traveling the country to meet with employees at many of the company’s operations.

He re-instituted the principle of accountability, which has been a fundamental part of U.S. Concrete’s improvement efforts. Suddenly, the company’s employees were responsible for their own decisions again and were rewarded for their efforts.

In addition, Sandbrook’s remarkable turnaround effort at the company involved selling off low-margin businesses (precast concrete and concrete block), and refocusing the company on producing ready-mixed concrete in four core markets with high barriers to entry and population growth: New York City, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, D.C.

Today, U.S. Concrete holds the top market position in the New York metropolitan area, a top two position in Dallas and a top three spot in Washington. Sandbrook used the proceeds from those dispositions to acquire a ready-mix business in San Francisco, which set the course for a 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.

The company has made more than 20 acquisitions under his leadership, and his leadership qualities go beyond U.S. Concrete. He was named the Rockland County, New York, 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 in recognition of his efforts at Ground Zero after the September 11th bombing of the World Trade Center.

Positive outlook

Bill Sandbrook is an outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing. Photos courtesy of U.S. Concrete

About his company, Sandbrook says, “Our market strategy continues to prove successful and has enabled us to achieve our 27th straight quarter of year-over-year revenue growth and 26th straight quarter of ready-mixed concrete pricing growth. We remain very optimistic for the future as the economic fundamentals across all of our markets continue to indicate a very positive outlook.”

Sandbrook adds, “We continue to remain active in the acquisition market with our recently announced acquisitions in northern California and Philadelphia and plans to acquire Polaris Materials. We are excited about our opportunities for growth both organically and through acquisitions. Our disciplined execution of our strategic-growth plan will allow us to capitalize on the solid fundamental growth metrics in our markets and further enhance shareholder value.”

In June 2008, Sandbrook was named CEO of Oldcastle’s Americas Products & Distribution with continued responsibility for architectural products, in addition to all precast, glass, metals and distribution businesses.

Sandbrook joined Tilcon New York as vice president in 1992 and became president and CEO three years later. In 1996, Tilcon was acquired by Oldcastle Materials.

Sandbrook was appointed president of Oldcastle Materials’ West Division in 2003. In July 2006, he was promoted to CEO of Oldcastle Architectural, responsible for the group’s U.S. and Canadian operations, as well as CRH’s businesses in South America.

Military life

Photo courtesy of U.S. Concrete

Sandbrook turned around U.S. Concrete, in part by selling off low-margin businesses and refocusing the company on producing ready-mixed concrete in four core markets. His success has earned him air time on shows like “Mad Money.”

Sandbrook is a 1979 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After receiving his bachelor of science in management, he spent 13 years in the U.S. Army.

His service included a four-year tour in Germany in cavalry and engineering units, three years as an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at the Military Academy and two years as the Army Program representative to Raytheon. While teaching at West Point, Sandbrook also served as a social aid to President Ronald Reagan and earned his professional engineer’s license in Industrial Engineering.

In addition to his work as an Army Ranger, Sandbrook earned four master’s degrees while in the service. He received an MBA from Wharton, a Master of Science in systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master in Public Policy from the Naval War College, and Master of Arts in International Relations from Salve Regina University.

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