Alternative Concrete Reinforcement Builds Solid Foundations in Central Indiana - Helix Steel - Banner

Case Study: Alternative Concrete Reinforcement Builds Solid Foundations in Central Indiana

For over 50 years, family-owned Custom Concrete has been a leading supplier of concrete contractor services throughout Central Indiana. Its success stems from focusing on family values and doing things right – including choosing the best concrete reinforcement.

If you work in the construction industry in central Indiana you know Custom Concrete. It was founded in 1969 as a custom home framing/cast-in-place foundation contractor by a hardworking couple, Joe and Betty Carr, and has grown into a 250-person concrete contracting team, still steadfastly focused on the Carr family’s principles of trust, integrity, pride and faith.

The network of related businesses now covers Central Indiana, Ohio and even Kentucky, while handling most services related to residential and commercial projects, from mid-rise residential footings, basement walls, industrial slabs and fulfillment center foundations. Many Custom Concrete employees have been there for over 10 years, with two who recently celebrated their 35 years with the business.

Shifting the Way Contractors Think About Reinforcement

Custom Concrete’s mindset has always been focused on delivering high-quality services using the best tools available. They use rebar and welded wire mesh as the primary reinforcement because specifiers did not offer alternative options.

It wasn’t until the fall of 2016 that rethinking the concept of reinforcement came to fruition since they found themselves in a difficult position. “We were working on a  large-scale project, with three buildings of 100,000-square-foot each. With winter quickly approaching, we needed to save work days” says Casey Harvey, Director of Operations for Custom Concrete.

Structural Sales co-owner Scott Smith knew Custom Concrete well and happened to be in the right place at the right time to present the benefits of an alternative concrete reinforcement. “I met the founder of their business, Joe Carr, back in 1990,” says Smith. “There aren’t many who could measure up to him. I became good friends with the owner and family.”

Alternative Concrete Reinforcement Builds Solid Foundations in Central Indiana - Helix Steel 02

Smith was and still is the regional distribution partner for an American business called Helix Steel that offered a solution called Helix Micro Rebar. The one-inch twisted steel reinforcement is added in cement mixers at batch plants and easily poured into place. The twisted shape acts similarly to a screw that keeps wood together, which results in a solution that substantially reduces cracks.

After speaking with Smith, Harvey was willing to give the innovative idea a chance, “We spoke with Helix Steel’s engineers and their explanations were excellent,” says Harvey. “Fortunately, this project also had contractors who were receptive enough to consider using an alternative.”

That first project for Custom Concrete resulted in 90% less rebar in the footings and 98% less rebar in the slabs. Custom Concrete was pleased with the results and couldn’t wait to make it a standard material for their operations, with Harvey saying, “After we saw the time savings on that one job we were sold.”

Alternative Concrete Reinforcement Builds Solid Foundations in Central Indiana - Helix Steel 01

Entering the Age of Alternative Concrete Reinforcements

Helix Micro Rebar now benefits projects that Custom Concrete takes on, including slabs on grade, footings, walls and even slabs on deck.

“A huge selling point for me when it comes to Helix Micro Rebar is the safety,” continues Harvey. “It’s a huge risk mitigation issue. You don’t have to move as much rebar around. It’s not a housekeeping issue. It’s not a material handling issue, and you don’t have to expose your people to strains and scrapes.”

Harvey often thinks about jobsite safety as well as all of the time the company saves by not tying rebar. The results are not uncommon; Many of Helix Steel’s customers frequently experience days or even weeks saved because of choosing it.

Even Smith, who also owns his own concrete company, experiences the benefits of Helix Micro Rebar. “We figure that the amount of Helix Micro Rebar we use saves us from hiring two additional full-time employees,” Smith says. “The guys we have now who use Helix Micro Rebar love working with it. If we do a job without it they always ask, ‘Why can’t we get Helix on this job?’”

Another key benefit of Helix Micro Rebar is that there is also no guessing when it comes to how the product should be applied. Helix Steel’s in-house engineers ensure that their customers, like Custom Concrete, are experiencing all of the benefits possible with Helix Micro Rebar. Harvey explains, “I reach out to their engineers on a regular basis. Then other times they reach out to me for my opinion on things and bounce ideas off of each other. The Helix Steel engineers have even visited our office to do a lunch and learn. It’s so important that the industry better understands alternative options to traditional reinforcement.”

Alternative Concrete Reinforcement Builds Solid Foundations in Central Indiana - Helix Steel 03

Moving Concrete to Another Level

“As much as it’s benefiting projects, Helix Micro Rebar is still a learning curve,” Smith admits. “Engineers who are used to traditional reinforcing are often pleased to learn more about Helix Micro Rebar and its capabilities to perform as well or better than rebar or wire. And for a lot of years, there were bad experiences with fibers – it would look like you need to mow them when you’re done. Every time we expose a new customer to it, Helix Micro Rebar is gaining ground.”

Businesses like Custom Concrete continue to offer Helix Micro Rebar (which is not considered a fiber since its benefits are far greater) and experience the benefits firsthand, along with the support of distribution partners like Scott Smith. “Especially during this ongoing pandemic, there are severe shortages of rebar and wire mesh,” Smith says. “As a distributor of Helix Micro Rebar, I’ve never had to say no to someone because we don’t have it in stock. It’s always available with very little lead time.”

There really has never been a better time to rethink concrete construction. If you are a contractor, engineer, developer or precaster, consider the benefits of Helix Micro Rebar and submit your project to get in touch with our engineering team. If you are located in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky or Florida please contact Scott Smith at Structural Sales, a regional distributor of Helix Steel.

Are you looking for quality concrete solutions? Connect with Custom Concrete at or 317-896-2885.