Holliday Rock, located in Southern California, sells construction materials and mines sand and gravel to make concrete and asphalt. The company was founded by Otha Holliday in 1937, and when he passed away in 1985, his son, Fredrick, took over. Fred and his son, John, worked side by side for 20 years, until Fred passed away in 2005.

Holliday Rock has 12 locations in Southern California, serving Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Kern counties. Selling equal parts concrete and asphalt, they provide materials for everything from patios to new freeways.

We asked John to share his decades of experience, and here are his eight hindsight tips:

1. Running a Family Business
"The secret to our success was that my Dad had a lot of patience," John explains. "He allowed me to take on new challenges, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes."

John adds that his father was very understanding and exceptionally good at letting the next generation of his family try new things, and when issues came up, letting them diffuse without stress.

"My dad was really smart," John adds, "he was right nine out of 10 times, and even the tenth time I was just too slow to know he was right."

2. Estimating
One of the most important factors for Holliday Rock's estimating is transportation, which John says is the one true variable, because the longer a truck is out on one delivery, the less loads it delivers over time.

"We also try to estimate based on reliability," he notes, adding that those contractors who pay promptly are always given the best estimates. "We like to work with those who will be our partner on solutions."

3. Pricing
John says it's important to him that Holliday Rock remains a low-cost producer that provides a high level of quality and service.

To that end, they own all of their equipment, which they buy outright and service themselves.

John adds that they also take the time to understand projects, which enables them to make smart decisions, all of which helps keep prices reasonable.

4. Managing Employees
"This always seems like a first quarter issue," John observes. "Every employee is different, and every employee communicates in a different way."

"My role is to recognize those differences. I've learned that how we get there isn't as important as the results," he continues. "I use different management techniques for different employees, and strive to be flexible."

5. Managing Equipment
Holliday Rock doesn't lease equipment, nor do they make payments. Instead, they buy when they can afford to, and they maintain what they own to get the most out of each piece of equipment.

John says they have between 250 and 300 different units, and they always know where they all are and what they're doing.

"We keep really good records of our equipment," he says. "Our record keeping has evolved from a yellow legal pad, to Excel spreadsheets, to our new in-depth database that drills down into cost, location, uses, even productivity. It's transformed out equipment inventory and maintenance."

6. Marketing / Advertising
Holliday Rock has a salesperson in each of their territories who works the market by driving around to visit job sites, as well as develops and maintains relationships.

They also market through public works' bids, and receive word-of-mouth referrals from existing customers.

7. Managing Facilities
With a dozen locations (all owned by Holliday Rock) to keep an eye on, some of which are as far away as 125 miles, John logs a lot of driving time.

Each facility has its own manager. John says Holliday Rock is working to build an electronic library, and each facility scans documents to build the library they can all connect to. (This digital library also includes pictures.)

8. Customer Relations
"I'm a big believer in making deals good for both parties," explains John. "Issues can be resolved quickly and fairly, because I don't let issues fester."

"We like to have fun here. We also want to make sure our customers are competitive," he concludes. "We want it to be a positive buying experience for our customers."

Holliday Rock proves that a passion for concrete can be handed down for many generations. And with John Holliday at the helm, the success of the company is sure to continue.

Read other articles in the Hindsight Series.