Rinker Division/Cemex USA’s Rick Traylor chairs American Concrete Pipe Association
By Steven Prokopy
As slow, controlled, steady economic growth has dared to allow those in the drainage products business to be hopeful for state and federal construction budgets advancing long-delayed capital investments, the American Concrete Pipe Association has been hiring regional engineers to put more boots on the ground and help members promote the benefits of structures to state department of transportation officials and other prospects.
As far as personnel changes at the association, according to new Chairman Rick Traylor, Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division/Cemex USA, the focus is almost exclusively on building up the roster of engineers, and that will continue to be the primary concern for the foreseeable future. “Presently, ACPA uses five state and five regional engineers. We definitely see some improvement in the market that is helping us to increase our activity in the association, including adding regional engineers and engineers that work a specific geographic area that are paid through either the ACPA budget or a shared budget with the member companies in that area. These folks have an engineering education or background, but also serve as a marketing person in those areas to promote our products to the engineering community as well as major municipalities and DOTs.”
Traylor adds that the pipe industry’s current market share surge in reinforced concrete box culverts has kick started engineers to educate potential users on the effective qualities of such structures versus cast-in-place products to speed project completion. “We’re focusing on educating the market on these benefits,” he says. “Our structures can speed the project, lower the time you have an open trench, and reduce the amount of time traffic is diverted, which is when safety concerns are at a peak.”
When looking at the pipe industry’s recovery from a regional perspective, Traylor sees “spotty” rebounding across the country. “Residential has seen solid growth in areas such as northern Florida, California, Arizona and Texas,” he says. “Some of the DOTs in other places are beginning to release some projects that have been on the shelf for a number of years, but didn’t have the funds to release. We’re starting to see a great number of design-build projects across the South.”
Even in the toughest of times, ACPA was able to maintain membership numbers. But Traylor explains that in the last year, there has been something of a surge in new members. “When you look at the total number of producers, compared to the number of members, we’re probably at the highest percentage of members I’ve seen in 15–20 years,” he says. “I think a lot of that has to do with ACPA focusing on the marketing and promotion side of the business. That’s yielded some positive gains in market share that’s being recognized by previous non-members who have since joined up with us.”
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Coming out of the “the Great Recession,” ACPA members have a positive outlook and sense of optimism about the future of the industry, according to Traylor, who views 2014 as a true turnaround year for concrete pipe production. “We’re seeing the first lasting positive signs since about 2007,” he affirms. “The outlook is up for the next several years. There’s a lot of pent-up demand that should kick in and generate further growth for the next few years.
“One of the things ACPA engineers have been spending time on in the last year has been educating the market about MAP-21 [the $105 billion Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century highway bill that expires October 1, 2014] and the changes to the regulation requirements,” Traylor says. “They have helped various departments of transportation staff—such as state materials engineers, hydraulic engineers, construction and structural engineers—and major municipalities understand that this change in the transportation bill has put the decision-making process for what products should be used in particular projects back in the hands of the engineers, as opposed to politicians who are typically not educated about those type of decisions.”
With the growing popularity of post-installation inspections (PII) becoming a part of the specifications for pipe work, ACPA has begun to put a great deal of resources into encouraging these below-the-ground follow-ups that often reveal most dramatically the differences among various pipe materials. “When contractors see the performance of other products via laser-video inspection, which a lot of states are beginning to require, they receive a lot more education about how these products perform once they’re out of sight; they’re not so much out of mind now because of this new technology,” Traylor explains.
“As a general rule, the association does promote and encourage PII to be written into specifications. Certainly when that occurs, we don’t only encourage that our competitors be inspected. We feel that the more facts people learn about the products prior to and after installation, the more people will want to use concrete.”
More available funds in the last year or two has translated into more investment in research, particularly work done with The University of Texas at Arlington, which is close to ACPA’s national headquarters in Dallas. “We’re looking at the long-term strength of fiber-reinforced pipe, examining various diameters and fiber content in terms of pounds of fiber/cu. yd., and evaluating the performance mechanisms that occur in fiber-reinforced pipe,” Traylor explains. “Obviously it’s used as a replacement for conventional steel reinforcement, but we’re also looking at combinations of steel and fiber reinforcement. We’re also looking at using those with thinner walls, which makes the product lighter and makes it easier for our customers to handle, install and carry more on a truck.
“As a result of some of this research, we’ve already developed an ASTM specification for steel fibers—ASTM C1765 [Standard Specification for Steel Fiber Reinforced Concrete Culvert, Storm Drain, and Sewer Pipe]—which was published last year.”
ACPA joined peers in the public comment period for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed permissible exposure limit of respirable crystalline silica in General Industry and Construction, concluding it “is unnecessary (without sufficient verifiable data to support that an exposure problem exists), cost prohibitive, especially for small businesses (OSHA cost data is understated and outdated), and contrary to the intended purpose of protecting our workers.”
In his comments to the agency, ACPA President Matt Childs concurred with other associations on “the time frame provided to prepare an adequate response to this rule. ACPA has labored, as have many other[s], with haste and diligence to educate its industry as to the requirements and impacts of the ruling and to collect information to facilitate a response. However, the timeframe allowed was simply inadequate to review the thousands of pages associated with the ruling … We respectfully request that the rule be withdrawn.”
Chairman Traylor sees the regulations as “overstepping and intrusion by OSHA. This opens the door for abuse in the future.” Although he does not have numbers on how many association members wrote in during the public comment period, Traylor knows that many member companies did comment.
ACPA Government Affairs stakeholders are also looking hard at the language of the next highway bill extension after MAP-21 expires in October. “Typically, those tend to be extended and renewed time and time again until the politicians can finally come to an agreement for a longer-term transportation bill, and I suspect that will be the case again in this process,” Traylor says.
“Another effort we’re trying to spotlight is to keep the transportation bill language that gives the engineers the decision-making power on which products need to be used and not make that a political mandate by people who don’t really understand the projects. I know there’s currently a movement in place by a ‘coalition’ of plastic pipe producers looking to get the language changed. Their approach seems to be to require every material be bid on a given project. In certain situations and with certain soils, it just isn’t appropriate for flexible products to be used. So the engineers who are familiar with all aspects of a project should be the ones making those decisions.”
The association’s constant efforts to keep its members up-to-date on current research, production techniques, marketing, as well as the basics of concrete pipe manufacturing and installation have resulted in a long-running webinar and in-person regional education sessions, which are done at least once per month, some of which are members-only events, while others are open to those outside the membership, including engineers, contractors and DOT representatives.
Traylor says webinar topics that are particularly well attended include reinforced concrete pipe design. “Engineers don’t get to spend a lot of time on this type of design while they get their degree,” he notes. “They learn about reinforced concrete design, but most of it is beams and rectangular structures. But round structures, that’s not commonly known technology, and there’s a constant demand to learn more. With boxes also becoming more popular, people want to know a great deal about the load-carrying capabilities and how to design the wall and top-slab thicknesses.
“Overall, there’s a need to understand the differences in the types of pipe materials out there, and what are the best applications for all. We try to be open and honest about what the proper applications for concrete or alternative materials. There’s quite a lack of understanding between rigid and flexible pipe products; they both require very different installations in order to work. There’s a real hunger in the engineering community for knowledge about that once they understand there’s a difference.”
QCAST, SAFETY AWARD WINNERS
In the fiercely competitive marketplace for pipe and drainage systems, quality is paramount. The American Concrete Pipe Association affirms this, as reinforced concrete pipe consistently stands above the competition thanks to the uncompromising commitment to quality manufacturing at plants across North America. To recognize those plants that stand above the rest on the most important measures of production quality, the ACPA has established the annual QCast Awards.
The “Quality Cast” Plant Certification Program, commonly known as QCast, is the recognized standard for quality assurance in the concrete pipe industry. It covers the inspection of materials, finished products and handling/storage procedures, as well as performance testing and quality control documentation. Plants may be certified in storm sewer and culvert pipe, sanitary sewer, box culverts, three-sided structures, manholes and precast structures.
Plants in each of the certification categories that score 95 percent or better on their annual QCast audit are recognized with the ACPA QCast Awards. From these honorees, one overall winner is selected in each category. The ACPA recognized its 2013 QCast Awards winners during a special ceremony at this year’s Pipe School in Houston:
- Combined Sanitary & Storm Sewer – Cretex Concrete Products, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Storm Sewer – Hanson Pipe & Precast, Jersey Village, Texas
- Box Culvert – Johnson County Pipe, Alvarado, Texas
- Sanitary Manholes – Cretex Concrete Products, Shakopee, Minn.
- Manholes – Cretex Concrete Products, Elk River, Minn.
- Precast – Precast Concepts, Grand Junction, Colo.
“Engineers, specifiers, DOT officials and contractors have learned they can count on concrete pipe plants to meet the most rigorous quality criteria for every job, in every application, every day,” said 2013 ACPA Chairman Bill Adams, Hancock Concrete Products. “Our QCast Awards single out the best of the best in terms of quality manufacturing, and this year’s winners are truly exceptional examples of the work being done in plants all across North America.”
Also during the 2014 Pipe School, the ACPA took the opportunity to recognize other important contributors to the industry: Jeff Hite of Rinker Materials received the Mel Marshall Award for contributions to education or quality; Pat Liston of Hanson Pipe & Precast won the President’s Award for Marketing Excellence; and, Derek Light of Inland Pipe received the Richard C. Longfellow Award, which is presented to the author of the best Concrete Pipe News article of the year.
“Each of this year’s award recipients has made meaningful contributions to their own companies as well as to the entire industry,” said ACPA President Matt Childs. “Whether it’s innovative advances in quality, marketing, education or communications, each of them has earned our appreciation, and we hold them up as examples for others.”
In addition, the ACPA recognized the latest winners of its P3 Awards, which recognize successful completion of its Professional Pipe Promotion online training course. The P3 program offers advanced training in both the technical and sales and marketing attributes of reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), equipping participants with the tools and information necessary to provide a consistent message to customers, specifiers and rule-makers. By completing the various P3 training modules, pipe professionals can achieve a “Pipe Pro” and/or “RCP Master” level of knowledge.
This year’s P3 Awards were presented to Kelly Peterich and Brandy Lang, both from Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division Cemex, and Brandon Christiansen from Cretex Concrete Products.
To underscore the concrete pipe industry’s commitment to continuous improvement, for the 13th year, ACPA has presented its Chairman’s Safety Awards, which recognize individual plants and companies that have implemented successful safety initiatives resulting in a safer and more productive workplace. The association recognized the safest of the safe during an awards luncheon and ceremony at its annual Pipe School held in Houston.
The 2013 Chairman’s Safety Award Overall Winner is Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division in Fort Myers, Fla., which earned the distinction for its development of an innovative D-Load Cradle. The plant received a $1,000 check to be distributed to key employees, along with a large trophy that it may keep onsite until next year’s winner is announced.
Rinker’s Fort Myers plant also won first place in the Equipment-Related Category. Second place went to Hanson Pipe & Precast in Jersey Village, Texas, for its Diamond Plate Work Platform. Cretex Concrete Products in Casper, Wyo., took third place for its Cage Guider.
Winners in the Individual Location category were Cretex Concrete Products in Elk River, Minn. (1st place–Straddle Crane Camera); Oldcastle Precast in Folsom, N.J. (2nd place–Core Drilling Stand and Guard); and Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division in Diamond, Ohio (3rd place–Lifting Chain Rack). The 1st place winner in the Company-Wide category was Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division in Houston for its Make Good Choices–Brother’s Keeper Campaign.
RINKER MATERIALS–CONCRETE PIPE DIVISION/CEMEX USA AT-A-GLANCE
As a leading building materials supplier, Cemex provides cement, ready-mix concrete, aggregates and concrete pipe, box and products to the construction industry. Rinker Materials was acquired by Cemex in 2007, positioning the company to deliver a greater variety of products and services to more areas of the country than ever before.
Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division/Cemex USA is a leading producer of concrete pipe and box culverts in the United States. Among its offerings is the proprietary Rinker Stormceptor, a stormwater separator that removes sediments and hydrocarbons from stormwater run-off and stores the pollutants for safe and easy removal. Rinker’s Concrete Pipe Division encompasses manufacturing facilities in more than 40 locations in 20 states.
Other products from various Rinker locations include manholes and inlets, microtunnelling (jacking) pipe, and specialty fittings and accessories. For more information, visit www.cemexusa.com or www.rinkerpipe.com or call 800/992-3639.
AMERICAN CONCRETE PIPE ASSOCIATION AT-A-GLANCE
The American Concrete Pipe Association has provided a voice for concrete pipe producers in matters affecting the industry’s welfare for 106 years, making it among the oldest active trade associations in North America. In return, ACPA members contribute to the improvement of our environment by producing quality concrete pipe, engineered to provide a lasting and economical solution to drainage and pollution problems.
ACPA was conceived in 1907 as the Interstate Cement Tile Manufacturers Association in Ames, Iowa, by a small group of concrete farm drain tile producers. The organization was established as a vehicle for exchanging ideas and establishing high-quality, standardized products. In 1914, it was renamed the American Concrete Pipe Association.
Throughout the 20th century, the concrete pipe industry experienced tremendous growth. As people migrated in ever larger numbers from farms to cities, demand increased for concrete sewer and drainage products. With the introduction of the automobile and subsequent development of the highway network, use of concrete pipe storm drains and culverts grew exponentially.
Today, ACPA members operate 300-plus plants, and membership spans producers and organizations in more than 40 countries. ACPA’s international headquarters are located at 1303 West Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 305, Irving, Texas 75038; 972/506-7216; fax: 972/506-7682; [email protected]; www.concrete-pipe.org.
|CHAIRMAN (2014) Rick Traylor Vice President Technical Services Rinker Materials–Concrete Pipe Division/Cemex USA Houston, Texas||IMMEDIATE PAST-CHAIRMAN (2013) William Adams Sales Hancock Concrete Products Dakota Dunes, South Dakota||CHAIRMAN-ELECT (2015) Mike Kusch Director of Technical Marketing Sherman-Dixie Nashville, Tennessee|
ECONOMIST CONTRASTS CONCRETE PIPE PROFITABILITY WITH OSHA’S SILICA RULE CLAIMS
Reinforcing the American Concrete Pipe Association’s position on OSHA’s proposed permissible exposure limit of respirable crystalline silica in General Industry and Construction is an analysis Bethesda, Md.-based Environomics, Inc. conducted for the American Chemistry Council Crystalline Silica Panel, with an emphasis on the proposed rule’s economic feasibility and cost-benefit factors. Among industries OSHA profiles in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Occupational Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica tables, notes Environomics President Stuart Sessions, “Consider concrete pipe manufacturing, [where] estimated (pre-tax) profitability changed from 7.27 percent in 2000 to 4.90 percent in 2001, a decrease of 32.6 percent. From 2004 to 2005, however, this industry’s profitability, as OSHA calculated it, increased from 5.95 to 10.78 percent, a large increase of 81.2 percent.
“Over the seven years from 2000 through 2006 that OSHA shows in the table, the concrete pipe industry’s profit rate increased year-over-year four times and decreased year-over-year three times. What are we to make of this? What does this information suggest, if anything, about whether the concrete pipe industry now, in 2014, is likely to be able to afford whatever compliance costs the Proposed Standard will impose on it?”
“I believe OSHA’s information on historical changes in profitability for an industry suggests absolutely nothing about whether the industry will or will not be significantly adversely affected by potential regulatory compliance costs. OSHA presents no information to indicate whether the concrete products industry was healthy or unhealthy in 2000 or 2006, no analysis to indicate whether [overall] profitability was increasing or decreasing over this period (the Agency presents information only to show that profitability was fluctuating over this period rather than steady), and no information to indicate whether any trend that might have been observed from 2000 through 2006 might or might not have continued between that period and the present,” Sessions argues.
“Year-to-year fluctuations in an industry’s profitability, or the lack of such fluctuations, are not particularly important to the industry’s long-term economic health. What is important is the longer-term trend in profitability, notwithstanding whatever fluctuations occur. Industries can and do survive substantial year-to-year changes in profitability or costs while remaining healthy if the long-term trend is favorable.
“The analogy OSHA attempts to draw between regulatory costs and these short-term reversals is inappropriate. Because OSHA has annualized the expected compliance costs for the regulation (i.e., it has converted the initial capital and ongoing compliance costs into an equivalent stream of annual costs, continuing each and every year, forever), the regulatory costs that OSHA is imposing result in permanent, not temporary, changes in industry costs, revenues and profits. It is wrong for OSHA to expect that the response of an industry to a permanent and continuing negative economic change such as the annualized compliance costs of the Proposed Rule will be the same as to one that is expected to be only temporary.”
RECORD ACPA PIPE SCHOOL
A record 370-plus concrete pipe professionals from across North America gathered in Houston earlier this year, just ahead of The Precast Show, for the 2014 ACPA Pipe School, an annual industry highlight featuring world-class training, education and networking.
“Our challenge each year is to build on the best aspects of previous Pipe Schools and add new elements that provide even more meaningful and lasting value to our attendees,” says ACPA President Matt Childs. “I believe we’ve achieved that with this year’s agenda, which features many of the top experts in our industry and sessions designed to arm each participant with the training and expertise they’ll need to boost sales and improve operational performance at their company.”
This year’s theme, “Concrete Pipe: Proud Past Devoted to the Future,” is a reflection of the industry’s long history of providing durable and reliable products that serve as the foundation of our highways, as well as the important role precast concrete pipe will play in its future. Pipe School attendees received first-class training in the areas of production, quality, safety, sales and marketing, and engineering design. Twelve DOT representatives were on hand either giving presentations or simply attending one or more of the tracks; those presenting showed attendees projects showcasing pipe or box culverts.
Among 2014 ACPA Pipe School highlights:
- Tours of nearby Rinker/Cemex and Hanson Pipe plants, plus Insteel Wire Products’ wire mesh fabrication facility;
- Presentation of best-in-class safety practices from finalists for the Chairman’s Safety Awards;
- The debut of the new installation training program for contractors and inspectors; and,
- Informal networking opportunities with industry peers from across North America.
Attendees had the opportunity to become QCast accredited by attending the Quality School track and passing the exam at the end of the course. ACPA extends special credit for the 2014 Pipe School to Diamond Sponsors HawkeyePedershaab and Press-Seal Gasket Corp./J-K Polysource, and Platinum Sponsor Besser Co.