Finding Growth Beyond the Burial Vault Business

How Turner Started

"Back in the day, grandpa started making burial vaults and he said, "We can make one burial vault a day and sell one a day; then the company will run," said Steve Turner, president of Turner Vault Company. "Well, that was in 1929."

Over the years and through the generations since Steve’s grandfather Virgil Turner started the family’s vault business with his father-in-law Benjamin Baxter, Turner Vault Company has grown into a thriving, family-owned business capable of producing much more than one burial vault a day, including hundreds of Pole Base precast light pole foundations yearly.

Housed in a 30,000-square-foot production facility on the outskirts of Toledo, Ohio, Turner Vault Company had already captured vertical diversification throughout the funeral services industry by the early 2000s, so Turner was looking for horizontal diversification to continue growth.


Expanding Beyond Burial Vaults

In 2005 Turner Concrete Products, the precast concrete construction division of Turner Vault Company, signed on as a licensee to manufacture Redi-Rock, part of the Aster Brands family of business solutions. The large, precast modular blocks for retaining walls would round out their offerings of sign bases, splash blocks, parking curbs, light pole foundations, and custom concrete solutions.

Achieving growth with Redi-Rock influenced Turner Concrete Products to turn to Pole Base by Aster Brands to provide an innovative solution for the production of their light pole foundations. Having partnered with Toledo Edison back in the ‘70s to make precast site lighting foundations, Turner saw the sales potential, but he knew that they needed to streamline the production.

“There needed to be a better way than we were doing it,” he said. “And [Aster Brands] figured that out.”

“There needed to be a better way than we were doing it,” he said. “And [Aster Brands] figured that out.”

Pole Base is a steel forming system that uses heavy-duty magnets to attach conduit to the forms, allowing for ultimate flexibility in the shop. Previously, Turner would cut, weld, and grind his steel forms when custom requests came up, which was very labor intensive. In addition to easily providing various conduit placements, bolt patterns, and sizes, rubber molds can be switched out in the forms to offer multiple textures for the finished product.


Turner Concrete Products Success with Pole Base

Operations manager Bryan Martin, who started with Turner Concrete Products in 2014, has seen much success with the Pole Base.

“I think our first year we started pouring we sold about 100. And then, we did about 300 or so the next year. Last year, I think I did about 500. I'm almost doubling every year. My goal this year is definitely 1,000 bases,” he said.

Electrical contractor Travis Atkin of Laibe Electric / Technology used 100 Pole Bases on the work he’s supervising at the ProMedica Toledo Hospital expansion.

“It looks better than any poured-in-place pole that I've ever seen,” he said. In addition to looks, Atkin touted the simplicity of installation of Pole Base. “You don't have the concrete trucks, you don't have the framing. You go out dig a hole, you drop your base, your pipe to it, and there you go...set it and forget it.”

Turner sees the benefits of adding Pole Base for manufacturers familiar with producing burial vaults.

“Once you sell these guys then that's kind of a no-brainer. They're going to come back to you because you're a quick fix for them,” he said. “It's similar in profitability. It's similar in sales.”

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