Nelson Precast is a full service manufacturer of architectural cast stone masonry and architectural precast masonry products. Located in west Baltimore on three acres and in a new 23,000 square foot production facility, Nelson Precast services residential and commercial customers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
As a valued member of the Baltimore metropolitan business retinue, Nelson Precast also continually seeks to be good stewards of the local and regional community. Our staff is involved in a wide range of civic, charitable, and artistic volunteer roles in the Baltimore area. In the summer of 2010, Nelson Precast was approached by the ABC’s hit series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to assist them in building a new facility for Boys Hope/Girls Hope in Northeast Baltimore. We are proud that we were able to donate custom cast stone banding and sills to help make the new building a beautiful and inviting home.
At Nelson Precast we also seek to minimize our environmental footprint, by taking such steps as using only locally quarried aggregates wherever possible. Nelson Precast includes a LEED accredited professional as a member of our senior staff, and we continue to explore methods of further reducing our impact on the planet.
Nelson Precast first began manufacturing precast concrete products in 1952. As the famed marble steps of Baltimore city’s rowhouses began to decay, precast stairs from Nelson were the preferred choice for both economy and durability. In fact, Nelson steps can be found on almost every street in Baltimore city.
Nelson Precast has drawn on this early experience and has since expanded to become one of the leading producers of custom cast stone and architectural precast in the region. Today our products can be seen throughout the mid-Atlantic region, from New York to Virginia, from Brooklyn to Oriole Park to Richmond.
Over the years, Nelson Precast has earned several industry awards and recognition for its service to the cast stone and precast industry. The following are a few of these:
BWI Airport Bollards/MAA
Historic Award for Liriodendron Mansion
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
Masonry Award for 1st and H Street Project
Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Baltimore
President & Owner
As an advocate and pioneer devoted to the industry, Ari Lichtman is one of the foremost experts in the Mid-Atlantic Region for both concrete and the different types of precast and cast stone. He is an expert resource to architectural firms and designers regarding specifications, connections, and specialty chemicals used in concrete related applications.
In addition to holding Certifications and being recognized by APA (The Architectural Precast Association), CSI (Cast Stone Institute), NRMCA (National Ready Mix Concrete Association), ACI (American Concrete Institute), NPCA (National Precast Concrete Association), and ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials), Ari is an AIA Certified CE Provider lecturing architectural firms on safety and other issues related to cast stone vs architectural precast.
Chief of Operations
Martin has been working at Nelson Precast since 2007. He has been recognized by the Architectural Precast Association, Cast Stone Institute, National Precast Concrete Association, and the American Concrete Institute for his proficiency with quality control techniques, and is a certified Concrete Strength Technician and Level II Quality Control Manager. He oversees the company’s quality control, drafting & design, and finance departments, maintains our APA certification, and develops the systems which enable us to maintain our high levels of quality, productivity, and customer service.
Professionally, Dave has known only one industry. Dave began his career at Pennsylvania Stone Products as a laborer at the age of 17. In the thirty-four years since, his career has progressed to become Foreman, Superintendent, Plant Quality Control, Estimator, and Manager.
In 2012, Dave brought his talents and experience to Nelson Precast to become its General Manager.
Tony arrived in the US with advanced degrees in engineering and logistics management from the University of Mexico in 1999. Tony holds certifications from ACI (The American Concrete Institute) certified as Level I Field Technician, and a Level II Concrete Quality Technician. Tony is recognized by APA (The American Precast Association) as a Certified Plant QC and Certified Batch Plant Operator.
Project Management System
As pioneers in working to make cast stone and precast better, Nelson Precast has developed its systems around the processes that have historically caused contractors to suffer.
Nelson Precast’s bid proposals are unique in the industry. Not only is every stone piece listed, its plan source is shown, and unit quantities are denoted by area, not simple totals. Our intention is to give our customers the chance to review our scopes for accuracy and completeness. For example, industry professionals have often heard: “We didn’t have that coping in our bid-that’s going to be a change order,” which comes as a surprise to both the masonry contractor and the general contractor or construction manager. Surprises of costs are one of the worst irritants in the construction process.
Nelson Precast has developed a job management system unlike any other in the industry. Combined with the Nelson Precast culture of going to the end of the world to service our customers, we ship the material on site that is needed, when it is needed. And we do so in a unique, yet easy to understand format that results in costs savings. Our customers are able to quickly identify the pallet location of stones they need and understand where and how to install them; “staging”, “pallet shake-out” and “sorting” and other bucket costs are greatly reduced or eliminated.
In one story all too common on construction projects everywhere, contractors suffer from failed project management and the job schedule suffers: “The project manager requires eight stones of a particular coping for the north elevation. Instead, he finds a pallet with twenty (20) stones on it and are told all of them were shipped to the job by the supplier/manufacturer even though the balance go on the east elevation-and construction on the east elevation is not scheduled for three months later!”
Because of these and other such stories, Nelson Precast has developed its own unique Job Management system designed to improve communication and coordination in the CAD, manufacturing and shipping phases between the contractor purchaser and our own highly skilled Project Managers.
Our design department is responsible for estimating, drafting, engineering, and custom color matching. All jobs, large and small, are assigned to a draftsman who guides their progress through the design process.
We view estimating as a part of the design department, rather than sales or administration. As a result, our estimators approach every takeoff from a design perspective. Our estimators are committed not to simply giving a lower price than our competitors, regardless of whether we can complete the job for that price, but to accurately determining the precise scope of the job and then giving the lowest possible price for that scope. As a result, we do not face the problem of unpleasant surprises leading to constant change orders and bruised relationships with clients. Our powerful and unique estimating software was written in-house as part of our overall project management system, and is specifically designed for speed, accuracy, and legibility. Our estimators are also skilled construction personnel, who are capable of answering customer questions and recognizing problematic conditions from the start, so that by the time we are awarded the job we have already begun the problem-solving process.
Once a job is awarded, our draftsmen immediately begin creating shop drawings using CAD. The commitment to accuracy which begins with our estimates continues with our drawings. Every individual precast piece will be shown, dimensioned, and clearly labeled. We design connections to the building structure, taking wind and seismic loads into account, and provide comprehensive engineering analyses as required by the specifications. Once drawings are accepted, detailed drawings of each piece are sent to the mold shop for production.
While our draftsmen are working, our mix design experts determine the mix to use for the job. While most of our jobs use one of our eight standard colors, we are frequently asked to match another color. Our mix designers blend different local aggregates and inorganic pigments to achieve a perfect color match, then process the stone to achieve the desired texture. We run repeated trials until we have several excellent matches, then submit them to the architect for approval.
Our moldmakers combine technical proficiency in carpentry with artistic talent to assemble even the most complicated molds. Every piece must be cut precisely to size and assembled carefully so that every edge is perfectly square and true. Molds must also be sturdy enough to withstand the forces exerted during the production process, and must be completely sealed to prevent any moisture leakage.
Generally, our molds are made of wood, cut either by hand or with our CNC router. However, many of our moldmakers are skilled sculptors, capable of creating a perfect model from clay or plaster and using that to cast a rubber or fiberglass mold. For historical reproductions, our moldmakers will often spend many hours restoring an existing piece to its original condition so that it can be used as a model.
Moldmakers must have exceptional powers of spatial reasoning to convert two-dimensional drawings of a positive into a three-dimensional negative. The most complicated shapes, such as helices, require extensive geometrical calculations to reproduce as molds.
Our brand-new production facility in West Baltimore was custom-built to maximize production capacity and ensure quality at each step of production. Here, our skilled production crews manufacture, cure, and process all of our pieces, using both the vibrant dry-tamp and wet-pour methods as required for the job.
Our dry-tamp pieces are made by forcing a concrete mixture with an extremely low water-cement ratio into a mold using pneumatic pressure. After being produced, the pieces undergo accelerated curing. This step, which many other cast stone manufacturers skip, dramatically increases long-term strength and durability. The pieces are then checked for dimensional accuracy, color, and overall quality before being processed, marked, palletized, and then left to continue curing. Once they have reached their shipping strength, they are shipped out to the job site.
Our wet-pour process takes place in its own dedicated building. The concrete floor was built to extreme tolerances to ensure perfect flatness and smoothness. Our expert forming crews build our wet-pour forms directly on the floor, guaranteeing perfectly square corners and dimensional tolerances. Our pouring crews then fill the forms with a concrete mixture designed for excellent flow characteristics and a high ultimate compressive strength. Once poured and cured under specialized heating blankets, the pieces are lifted by our high-capacity crane, checked, cleaned, and processed, and then stored indoors until they are ready to be shipped. Our large areas of secure storage mean that we can easily ship finished pieces in precise batches as needed, rather than sending hundreds of disorganized pieces to an already crowded job site.
Both our dry-tamp and wet-pour production crews utilize our state of the art electronically controlled batch plant, which allows precise weight-based batching of aggregate, cement, water, pigment, and specialty admixtures. This allows us to produce highly consistent concrete with the specific properties required for the individual job.
Nelson Precast currently conducts its manufacturing for both cast stone and precast on a three acre site with a 23,000 square foot facility. Nelson Precast utilizes the most current technologies to operate our plant.
Our office staff and project managers use computer aided design and specialized estimating software.
Nelson Precast’s mold makers work in our modern wood shop including a 5′ x 12′ CNC router.
Our dry tamp cast stone area includes a 50 HP rotary screw compressor and 300 gallon air receiver tank and accelerated steam curing.
All stone is acid washed once curing is complete.
Architectural precast is batched using a precise, state-of-the-art batching system.
Units of up to seven tons can be moved within and out of our facility with our 120′ long 45′ wide crane.