Lafarge Closes On Ritchie Properties, Expands New Orleans Operations

Lafarge North America finalized its acquisition of the materials and construction assets of Wichita, Kan.-based Ritchie Corp. early last month. The deal


Lafarge North America finalized its acquisition of the materials and construction assets of Wichita, Kan.-based Ritchie Corp. early last month. The deal includes seven ready mixed plants that in recent years have been brought under the banner R-Con Corp., plus three aggregate and two asphalt plants, and a large regional paving business. The operations employ 450 and will be part of Lafarge Western U.S. Region’s Aggregates, Concrete & Asphalt segment, which has commanding positions in Denver and Albuquerque.

Ritchie Corp. is an excellent example of a company that meets our criteria in leveraging our performance culture, and is consistent with growth objectives, notes Lafarge Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development. Among existing management joining Lafarge in general manager capacities, he adds, are Matt Ritchie, Kansas Concrete, and Steve Zuendel, Kansas Asphalt and Paving. Darrell Moran, who has been part of a Lafarge Business Development team in Denver, will be general manager of Kansas Aggregates, joining his two newly appointed counterparts in Wichita. Ritchie Corp. CEO Hale Ritchie, who is also 2005 National Ready Mixed Concrete Association chairman, will work with the Strategy and Development team and report to Herndon staff.

The R-Con properties are strategic to Lafarge cement plants in Fredonia, Kan., Sugar Creek, Mo., and Tulsa, Okla., with combined 1.6 million-tpy capacity. The concrete, asphalt and paving operations position Lafarge with integrated production typical of Kansas’ other powder players, Ash Grove and Monarch Cement, and along Interstate 35, a critical corridor for North American Free Trade Agreement commerce.

Concurrent with the Ritchie transaction, Lafarge announced plans to build three ready mixed plants in the New Orleans market, while adding 25 mixers to its fleet. The new sites will join 15 other existing plants where production has mostly resumed following power outages and flooding from Hurricane Katrina. In addition, Lafarge cites availability of portable batch plants Û tied to its operations outside Louisiana Û that can be deployed to New Orleans as post-clean up construction commences.

We will be ready to serve the local construction teams in their effort to rebuild these communities, says Dominique Calabrese, president of Lafarge Aggregates, Concrete & Asphalt eastern division. Our products will be an important component of the reconstruction, and we are rapidly securing the necessary materials and resources to provide reliable support to our customers and this region.

The majority of Lafarge’s New Orleans ready mixed plants are operating and supplying standard, as well as specialty concretes such as Agilia and ArteviaColor, to meet market demand. In addition, two of its three Louisiana cement terminals are operational, and the company expects its New Orleans terminal to be up and running in the near term.