Joel Sheets is Vice President and General Manager of Tindall’s Utility Division. Based in Spartanburg, S.C., he oversees a team of more than 85 engineers, designers, production workers, and other staff members as they develop and produce never-before-seen precast concrete solutions for the utility industry. Sheets also serves as the Secretary/Treasurer for the National Precast Concrete Association and has been highly involved in the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute for many years.
Sheets has led the Utility Division to complete thousands of innovative precast projects across the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, and South-Central regions of the country, but as is the case with any success, his division’s growth has come with its fair share of growing pains. That’s why Tindall developed a new, $27.9-million, state-of-the-art production facility and home base for the Utility Division in Spartanburg that became operational in June 2021. Here, working alongside the division’s new leadership team, Sheets hopes to take his team’s talent for innovative solutions to the next level.
In this exclusive interview with GroundBreak Carolinas, Sheets gives us insight into the growth of Tindall’s Utility Division, its new production facility, and what’s next for his team.
How would you describe your professional journey at Tindall?
It’s been incredible. I’ve spent nearly 20 years of my career at Tindall, but it honestly feels like it flew by. I started out here in the early 2000s as a project manager, and my role’s been growing and changing ever since. I get to work with some of the most brilliant minds in our industry and help solve complex utility problems across the country. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead such a dynamic team. I really believe we have the best people in the industry, and I wouldn’t trade my time here with them for the world. Even after 20 years, I still look forward to coming to work each day, and I don’t take that for granted.
How have things changed since you first started?
It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. Tindall got its start in 1963 by producing standard underground precast components, and that style of manufacturing served us well for many years. But as we continued to grow, we started to see the need for custom solutions increase exponentially. Rather than turn those opportunities away, we focused on service, put on our thinking caps, and created solutions that simply didn’t exist anywhere else. By the time I came on board, Tindall was already known for creating custom solutions for our customers, but the quantity and complexity of those projects have only grown since then. Now, custom solutions make up a large majority of the work we do, and we’re always looking for smarter ways to take on challenges.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
I feel like the true marker of good advice is how often you get to put it to use. So, for me, the best advice I’ve ever received is: “Don’t hesitate. When something needs to be done, do it. Make the tough call. Change the process. Rethink the solution.” In my role at Tindall, I use that advice every day. It’s helped me become the leader I am today, and I’m lucky to be surrounded by people that share the same idea. I think that’s one of the main reasons we’re able to take on so many new challenges. We just put our heads together and get to work.
What’s the best advice you could give?
Start every day with the attitude that you can change things for the better. What can you improve? Who can you help? What problems can you solve? It’s questions like these that recently led us to develop the new leadership team at the Utility Division. We needed a team of people who could look at our business, look at our employees, and look at our processes and ask, “How can we make this better? Who needs help, and how do we give it to them?” We wanted to build a team of leaders that could focus on service, identify areas of improvement, and actually take ownership of challenges. It’s been amazing to see what we can do when we all work together.
Tindall’s tagline is “Engineered to Serve.” What role does service play at Tindall?
Everything we do begins and ends with our dedication to service, and it always has. We knew early on that, in order to be better partners for our customers, we needed to provide more than a catalogue of standard products. That’s why we started developing custom solutions in the first place — because our customers’ success depended on it. Now, decades after our first one-of-a-kind component, custom products make up the vast majority of our production. In other words, our innovative spirit was born from a desire to better serve our customers, and that same idea still drives us today.
What kind of experience can customers expect from the Utility Division?
We built our name on delivering innovative, high-performance, and defect-free precast solutions quickly. But the Tindall experience goes beyond quality and speed. That’s our baseline. We work closely with every customer to make sure we’re delivering the ideal solution for their challenge. To do that, we focus on service, first and foremost. In the end, what makes the Tindall experience unique is the nature and depth of the relationships we build with our customers.
What’s driven the Utility Division’s growth over the last 10 years?
It’s our team — pure and simple. We all share the same commitment to delivering exceptional products, designing creative solutions, and putting service at the forefront of everything we do. Our team has earned a reputation for going above and beyond — for exceeding our customers’ expectations — and that’s because service is always our number one priority.
Why did Tindall decide to build a new production facility for the Utility Division?
Thanks to our success over the last decade or so, we more than outgrew our previous facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. While we’ve been delivering innovative solutions out of this location for years now, the facility simply wasn’t designed to accommodate the number of custom components we’re currently producing. Our new location is purpose-built to facilitate large-scale manufacturing of both custom and stock solutions. We’ve incorporated technology and automation into every nook and cranny we could find to give us the flexibility we need to create better, more innovative precast products for many years to come.
What’s next for the Utility Division?
Right now, we’re all focused on testing the limits of both our new facility and our creativity as a team. Our recent move gave the Utility Division a major boost in efficiency and capacity, and it’s also given us the opportunity to focus on innovation more than ever before. I guess you could say that we’re giving our new technology and processes a trial by fire, and so far, we’re not even close to hitting our limit. Once we do, we’ll continue to find better, more innovative ways to push ourselves while exceeding our customers’ expectations.
About Tindall — More than 50 years ago, Tindall made a commitment to serve their customers, employees, and communities by delivering innovative precast, prestressed concrete solutions. Today, they’re one of the largest, most experienced teams in the industry, with locations throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Southeastern, and South-Central United States. Their mission is to serve their customers, create remarkable structures, and deliver never-before-seen solutions every step of the way.