Concrete Products is the leading source for Concrete Plants, Concrete Mixers, Precast, and Ready Mix news.

The first quarter of 2015 proved a lively financial period for public and would-be public heavy building materials operators, who commanded investor attention the world over.

 

The rumbling began late last year among units at Allied Stone and Cordova Dredge, businesses of Illinois aggregate producer Riverstone Group. Members of each petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to conduct elections on maintaining International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 as their collective bargaining representative.

True to a consent decree deadline finalized in federal court a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency capped five-plus years of rulemaking on coal combustion residuals (CCR) management and disposal in late 2014, tabling a contentious measure that would have hampered ASTM C618 fly ash specifications and prospects.

Portland Cement Association Chief Economist Ed Sullivan reported at the 2015 International Builders’ Show last month that housing starts will increase 20 percent this year—to 1.2 million units, up from roughly 950,000 units in 2014. The multifamily sector should see a 12 percent jump from last year’s levels, good for 400,000 unit starts. Apartment and condominium building will exhibit continued strength over the next five years, he added, as demographic trends reshape entry and exit patterns of the single-family unit market.

 

The industry entered 2014 with limited tailwind. Last year’s cement shipments and concrete output fell a few points from 2012, and prolonged, catastrophic winter weather hampered construction through the end of March. Before the snow melted, a) good market indicators supporting overdue plant and fleet investment were evident; b) one global and two domestic transactions surfaced, altering the top U.S. and Canadian concrete, cement and aggregate producer ranks; c) ready mixed and manufactured-concrete producers embraced new protocols for the LEED v4 era of green building; and, d) mobile device-suited information technology offerings surfaced, inviting the use of big data analytics to lower concrete production and delivery costs.