Second Century

On the occasion of its centennial celebration, the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) will begin its second century pursuing the same strategies


On the occasion of its centennial celebration, the American Concrete Pipe Association (ACPA) will begin its second century pursuing the same strategies that brought success during the first 100 years, affirms 2007 ACPA Chairman Tom Wheelan, who is senior vice president of Hanson Pipe & Products, Inc. Our mission is unchanged, he asserts. The big difference this year is that we will do more of it!

Accordingly, ACPA will continue to follow the guidelines of a new strategic plan. If it looks as if we need to go in another direction, Wheelan says, then we will.

For now, the plan is key. In simple terms, we embarked in 2003 on a plan that focused our association’s efforts on how to best meet the needs of members, Wheelan tells Concrete Products. We determined our association’s primary objective must be to grow the market share of concrete pipe and box culverts used by state DOTs and other government agencies.

It wasn’t always that way, the chairman notes: When we started the plan, getting the buy-in was tough. Everybody had his or her own issues, and ranked them accordingly. Some coincided, and some didn’t. We were doing many things and trying to solve every problem or respond to every issue each member might have.

Every year the association board members make contact with each member company to tell them what we have or haven’t accomplished in the last year, and what the plan is for the next year, Wheelan reports. At the same time, he adds, opinions and ideas on the plan and association performance, both past and future, are solicited.

This communication has brought nearly unanimous buy-in support for our strategic plan and other programs and board decisions, Wheelan observes. We looked at a lot of things that would have been nice to do, but we lacked the staff or the time. When considering what was most important, then, we kept coming back to promotion. The result is that we have technical and promotional support out in the various regions, calling on states and hiring new support staff.


To boost ACPA’s promotional efforts, technical marketing staff was added in 2006. Last year, two technical marketing engineers, Tom Finn and Al Hogan, joined the ACPA staff, Wheelan says. They have the responsibility of promoting concrete pipe and box culverts to DOT and municipal engineers.

Hogan’s territory is the Eastern U.S., while Finn covers the Western states. A third technical marketing engineer ACPA plans to hire in 2007 will target central states. Meanwhile, the association continues to respond to technical inquiries on concrete pipe and boxes, besides publishing supportive material such as technical brochures and manuals, software, and its quarterly Concrete Pipe News, along with a host of information on the ACPA web site at

Early indications suggest that the new technical marketing engineers have been effective at responding to state and local issues, and have provided DOTs with sound engineering data on the culverts they are installing, Wheelan tells Concrete Products. This work spotlights the quality, strength and durability of concrete pipe, and the fact that when you put it in, you will not have to worry about the pipe, since the component itself carries the strength. Concrete pipe compares favorably with HDPE, which requires elaborate construction and installation methods.


ACPA’s marketing effort includes involvement with national allied groups and associations. We’re working directly with the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and its committees, Wheelan reports. We’ve set our business, committee and midyear board gatherings to coincide with AASHTO meetings.

Nonetheless, ACPA is concerned about the future of highway funding, or lack thereof, and what it means for the industry and American citizens. More and more segments of the highway system are reaching the end of their design life in calendar years, Wheelan contends, even as the highways, in some of those years, have been operating at 200 percent or more of their design capacity. Further, recent funding in current dollars has been eroded due to inflation. It’s important that all the manufactured concrete products associations Û and their individual members Û continue their efforts to educate our legislators.

The American Concrete Pipe Association is entering its second century with strength and vision. As its chairman emphasizes, ACPA’s goal is to provide the best products for the nation’s buried infrastructure to function throughout the next 100 years.



Built from operators founded as far back as 1931, Hanson Pipe & Precast, Inc. has become North America’s largest manufacturer of concrete pipe and precast concrete products, including residential and commercial building components, bridges, manholes and retaining walls. Originally founded to provide concrete pipe for sewer and culvert construction, Hanson has grown into an organization employing more than 3,800 across 90 plants supplying manufactured concrete coast-to-coast.

In Houston, a late-March dedication marked the opening of a fully automated, 100,000-sq.-ft. facility, noted by Hanson Pipe & Precast officials as the largest-capacity concrete pipe operation in the U.S. (see Editorial, page 4; News Scope, page 6). Incorporating several production and curing technologies implemented for the first time globally, the plant is designed to produce, on average, one pipe per minute or 500 tons of product per working shift in varying 24-, 36-, 48-, 72- and 96-in. diameters.

Houston is one of Hanson Pipe’s largest markets. The demand for water management products, constituting storm water drainage systems, sewers and water treatment plants, is fueled by flat topography; Gulf of Mexico proximity; elevation at 40 feet above sea level; and, exposure to hurricanes.





Senior Vice President
Hanson Pipe & Products
Houston, Texas


Vice President and CFO
Cretex Companies, Inc.
Elk River, Minnesota


Northern Concrete Pipe
Bay City, Michigan

Throughout 2007, the American Concrete Pipe Association is marking the centennial of its founding. An official kickoff on March 11 at ACPA’s annual convention began a year-long commemoration of the men, women and technology that built the concrete pipe industry.

The American Concrete Pipe Association founders held their first conference in 1907 as the Interstate Cement Tile Manufacturers Association. The Ames, Iowa-based group of concrete farm drain-tile manufacturers thereby sought to establish a means of exchanging ideas and delivering high-quality, standardized products. In 1914, the organization was renamed the American Concrete Pipe Association.

Throughout the 20th century, the concrete pipe industry experienced tremendous growth. The migration of increasingly greater numbers of people from farms to cities created ever-growing demand for concrete sewer and drainage products. Introduction of the automobile and subsequent highway development extended the uses of concrete pipe storm drains and culverts.

ACPA members currently operate 400-plus plants throughout the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, more than 30 countries are represented in the membership of the American Concrete Pipe Association.

Matt Childs, P.E., is ACPA president. The association moved its offices last year to 1303 W Walnut Hill Lane, Suite 305, Irving, TX 75038; tel.: 972/506-7216; fax: 972/506-7682; [email protected];