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K. Watson Jr. shifts from Summit COO to Forterra CEO

Sources: Forterra Inc., Irving, Texas; CP staff

Karl Watson Jr. has transitioned from executive vice president and chief operating officer of Denver-based Summit Materials to chief executive officer and board member of Forterra Inc., a top concrete pipe and precast drainage structure producer. He arrives with 30-plus years in management and executive roles at major heavy building materials operators and, Forterra notes, “a track record of effectively leading through numerous business cycles and improving financial results.”

“Karl has deep experience in the industry and a reputation for driving operational excellence and creating enhanced value for stakeholders,” says Forterra Chairman Chris Meyer. “He is a seasoned leader, with a history of improving businesses. The Board is confident that Karl is ideally suited to execute our strategic initiatives and position Forterra for growth while creating increased value for all our stakeholders.”

“Forterra is an industry leader in its sector with unmatched scale and a differentiated footprint,” adds Watson. “With the support of the entire Forterra team, I am confident we will deliver improved margins, strong cash flow, and profitable growth by leveraging our significant product breadth, scale and innovation to meet customers' needs.”

Forterra spans segments familiar and new to Watson: Drainage Pipe & Products and Stormwater Management Systems (concrete) and Water Pipe & Products (ductile iron). The former comprise Hanson Pipe & Precast businesses spun off from HeidelbergCement AG in 2015, plus regional operators Cretex and Sherman Dixie that Forterra acquired as an independent entity. Drainage and Stormwater segment assets include plants that competed with those of Rinker Materials/Hydro Conduit, one of the profit centers Watson oversaw as president of Cemex USA, Houston.

Watson succeeds Jeff Bradley, who stepped down to pursue other opportunities. Concurrent with the chief executive change, the Forterra Board has appointed John McPherson, an independent member since 2016, as lead director and non-executive vice chairman. He will work with fellow directors and management to support a smooth leadership transition, reinforcing a focus on margin and cash flow improvements while sustaining efforts to unlock the value embedded in the company’s industry-leading scale and market positions.

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