NCMA begins second century equal to challenges new and old

Congratulations to members and staff are the order of the month as the National Concrete Masonry Association observes a 100-year anniversary. One of the oldest groups in building and construction, it shares a century mark with businesses and organizations no less than Ash Grove Cement, Besser Co. and Lehigh Portland Cement, as well as the American Concrete Institute, American Concrete Pipe Association and Portland Cement Association.

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Fire sprinkler safety assumptions dumb down life and death matters

If recent columns on encouraging White House, Departments of Labor, Transportation and Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency actions haven’t made the case, here’s another reason for concrete interests to respect President Donald Trump: He is versed on one of the principal value propositions of cast-in-place, precast or masonry load-bearing assemblies.

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Industry embraces workforce development

Ready mixed and manufactured-concrete producers have enjoyed gradually improving business for much of the past five years. Like employers throughout the economy, many have encountered a tightening labor market, culminating with 2018 unemployment levels approaching 20-year lows and industry-wide prioritizing of recruiting and retaining production and delivery talent.

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Producer accruals from Tax Cuts accounting near $1 billion mark

The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act (TCJA) with which President Donald Trump and his party closed out 2017 is already spurring returns in concrete, aggregates and cement. A lowering of the corporate tax rate from 39 percent to 21 percent, coupled with reduced liabilities for deferred tax payments, is reflected in major operators’ final 2017 financials and stepped up 2018 capital expenditure projections.

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Paris-leery EPA enlists cement, concrete interests in real pollution reduction

This month’s United Nations (Conference of Parties) COP 23 meeting in Bonn, Germany, will differ much from COP 21, the gathering that spawned the “historic” Paris Climate Accord. Delegates are sure to perpetuate the fretting that accompanied President Donald Trump’s decision to exit an agreement to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

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Oldcastle-style capital reallocation

Dublin-based CRH Plc entered the U.S. nearly 40 years ago, a deal for Idaho’s Amcor Precast seeding a broad, deep portfolio under the Oldcastle Inc. banner. Now designated Americas Products and Americas Materials in the CRH group, the Oldcastle Architectural, Materials and Precast businesses have long since grown to command top or top five U.S. market positions in block & paver, packaged dry mix and raw materials, ready mixed concrete, aggregates, and drainage- or utility-centered precast products and structures.

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Graphene rises from nanotech as a positive carbon factor for concrete

Scientists’ work with elements at the atomic level continues to yield promising concrete admixtures whose impact might one day approach that of polycarboxylate superplasticizers. As Concrete Products has observed in reports on Zenyatta Ventures Ltd. and EdenCrete Industries this past year, nanotechnology has led to identification and processing of concrete market-ready graphene, a single atom-thick layer of pure carbon derived from mineral or synthetic graphite.

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Bluegrass, Aggregates USA deals speak to healthy Martin Marietta, Vulcan rivalry

The top two U.S. aggregate producers are pacing each other in building annual production volumes and long-term limestone and granite reserves. Predictable in most any economic cycle, their strategy takes on new dimensions in 2017, as investors see U.S. crushed stone and sand & gravel shipments netting some of the best returns or future earnings prospects in heavy building materials.

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Davis-Bacon: Repeal and don’t replace

Budget hawks on Capitol Hill are scrutinizing wasteful mechanisms in surface transportation construction against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s infrastructure investment plant. One of the easiest targets for stretching dollars from an expanded highway and bridge funding pool was noted here last month: A lifting of Barack Obama’s executive order fostering the use of wage-inflating project labor agreements on higher ticket federal construction contracts.

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Mergers, acquisitions, musical chairs define back-to-back watershed years

Seven 2015–2016 deals mark the latest turning point in North American cement production and a key downstream segment, pipe and precast. Incumbent operators streamlined or broadened their market footprints while a newcomer from Mexico saw opportunity north of the Rio Grande. Two cement players’ deals realigned market leadership in concrete pipe and precast.

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