P&Q Profile: Am Cast’s Vinnie Rocco

By |  June 1, 2018

P&Q caught up with Vinnie Rocco, a New York native who resides on Long Island, at the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s Young Leaders Annual Meeting in La Jolla, California.


Rocco

How did you get your start in the aggregate industry?

I have a degree in film and TV. I worked for a couple of small production companies. I worked on ‘Indiana Jones [and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull]’ as a production assistant but I was a gopher, keeping people off the sidewalks.

It was tough. I didn’t feel like I’d have a real chance to contribute. In that industry, you have to really work as a ‘nobody,’ almost to the level of disrespect. You’re a runner, and that just wasn’t me. I wanted to do something in a leadership role and contribute to the positive growth of a company.

So, I went to work for my dad. He owned a CertaPro Painters franchise. I started painting, got familiar with setting up jobs and then transitioned to running the crews for a few years. My mother was working with our COO’s wife in the hospital, and she told my mom that Am Cast was looking to hire an outside sales representative. It was a tough decision to leave my father’s company, but I jumped on it and started in November 2008. I had a two-month contract. They decided to hire me, and I quickly went to regional sales manager and eventually general manager.

How did you take to our industry at first? Was it challenging?

It was challenging for me, even though I came into a warm territory. I had never been in sales. There had been some customers on Long Island and in New York who were already buying when I came on, but I had to do a good deal of cultivating new leads. I learned that sales don’t miraculously come to you. You have to do things to generate interest like establishing lasting relationships and being part of small organizations and trade shows.

Am Cast’s 8 12 GEO horizontal shaft impactor. Photo courtesy of Vinnie Rocco.

You came into the industry at a tough time. Did the economy add to the challenge you faced?

Yes, big time. In 2008, most of the companies I [served] were not doing much crushing. The recycling on Long Island slowed a bit as well, but [regionally] it seemed like more of the quarries in upstate New York and Connecticut were the ones really hurting. The aggregate industry took a major hit but has been on a steady incline since.

Tell us about the makeup of Long Island in terms of construction materials.

There are a few surface mines out east on the island and a few in the center – those are more of the sand and gravel type pits. Long Island has a lot of concrete and asphalt recycling. Asphalt plants, as one example, will reuse the asphalt that their sister companies pull up off the roads that need to be reworked. There are no significant rock quarries.

Companies can even barge aggregate in. That’s how they make their aggregate mix. Maybe their aggregate division is run in the upper part of New York, so they’ll barge [aggregate] down to make concrete.

There’s really no space left on Long Island. It shocks me that there’s even this one particular sand plant in the middle of an industrial park surrounded by office buildings. Off to the side of the road, there’s a sand pit.

Let’s talk equipment. What sort of activity are you seeing these days in terms of purchasing?

At the end of 2017, we saw very good demand for machinery. There were a lot of companies that needed to spend money at the end of the year for tax benefits and other reasons. We moved a lot of our equipment in a short amount of time.

2018 seems to be positive as well. We’re trying to keep up with this increased demand. We have a lot of seasonal customers who can only run from April or May until the start of the cold months. You want to make sure you get equipment to them when they need it.

Depending on location, this spring has been somewhat of a loss for some producers. What are you hearing from customers about the regional effects of this cold and, in some cases, snowy spring?

I was in Wisconsin [in late April] overseeing a crusher installation. Originally, we had the install scheduled two weeks earlier, but the customer, knowing the weather better, said let’s try to push it toward the middle of April.

We had the trip lined up and I got a call from him saying they had a major blizzard coming in. They get snow late, but this was a lot of snow, even for the upper part of Wisconsin. Now, he’s looking at the first or second week of May to be hooked up and producing.

Wear parts are obviously a big part of Am Cast’s business. How is this area faring, and can you offer some insight on the dynamics between selling wear parts versus a complete machine?

[When] Am Cast started [in] 1999 , we were primarily a wear parts company in the U.S. By servicing the wear parts side, our philosophy was never to sell on volume, but rather solving niche problems. It allows us to pinpoint the real trouble areas in businesses and take a hands-on approach in providing solutions. From our sales people to senior managers in our engineering and metallurgy departments, we jump on a plane and get hands-on in the field with customers.

It’s through conversations with the plant managers, mechanics and crusher operators that we gain the information we need in our strive toward perfection. You’ll never be perfect, but the goal is to ‘always get out of the inning.’

The machine side is a separate animal. The sales process for crushers is much different than the process for wear parts. It’s a big investment. What’s nice about being involved in both sides of the business is that the wear parts produce a steady revenue stream while you’re able to continuously develop the crushing equipment.

FIVE THINGS

BEST ADVICE RECEIVED – My mother taught me the virtue of honesty and my father would tell me: ‘Always get out of the inning.’ I was a pitcher. That lesson stuck with me and has been part of my career. You’re going to make mistakes in life, but learn from them and do what it takes to move forward.

HOBBIES – House projects and construction, but my real hobby now is my son. Priorities change quickly!

BOOK – I have a great appreciation for our military and special forces, so I enjoy books like ‘The Last Punisher’ and ‘Lone Survivor.’

TRAVEL SPOT –Fire Island, a barrier island off of Long Island, or anywhere near the ocean.

SPORTS – New York Giants, Yankees and Rangers

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