ACPA Chairman Bussio proud of growing numbers, programs in tough economy

Source: CP Staff

At a time when all arenas of the building industry are working with bare bones staff and resources, newly elected American Concrete Pipe Association Chairman Vince Bussio of Geneva Pipe Company credits the group’s president, Matt Childs, and his team with managing the budget so effectively that membership numbers are growing and a dues increase was recently passed. “We had a budget freeze, but we were able to grow the staff size over the last couple of years without increasing dues,” says Bussio. “One of the things I’m very proud of is that the majority of the dues go toward programs [and not salaries].”

Despite this silver lining on the nation’s cloudy economic status, Bussio says his members are eager for a sizable upswing to occur. “We believe we’ve bottomed out and think this year will continue to grow and develop,” he explains. “I still think we’re 18 months away and that the recession will continue to linger. It’s not going to come back as strong or as fast as we would like, but it is coming back.”

Bussio said that when more funds become available, he expects ACPA would like to have more allocated for research and development, a practice that is taking shape currently with early-stage testing of concrete pipe manufactured with strength-enhancing steel fibers, rather than welded wire mesh. “We’ve got some full-scale models made,” he says. “This is a good example of our suppliers working with the industry. This is driven by outside funding in collaboration with the industry trying to find ways to improve the product. We’ve seen some preliminary results, and it’s interesting but it’s too early to have a timetable in terms of creating specifications for steel fibers.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule that dictates that stormwater be kept separate from industrial runoff and sewer water should provide drainage product opportunities for ACAP members, according to Bussio, who adds, “The mandate to separate stormwater from sewer water will certainly have an impact on us and create some storm drain opportunities for our members, whether people put in pipe or some kind of underground retention, that business will come to us in theory.”

In January, a nationwide survey of key customers of drainage pipe found that concrete pipe rated highest, by a wide margin, on several of the most important criteria used to make decisions on such purchases. The survey of more than 400 specifiers, Department of Transportation and other public agency officials, consultants and contractors was taken in November 2011. “You don’t get to be the oldest active trade association in North America unless you offer a customer-satisfying product,” says Bussio. “That’s really what we hang our hat on. If you want durability, if you want long-term performance, you choose concrete pipe.”

With 2012, ACPA begins a new three-year strategic plan, following its recently completed four-year plan. “We needed some new goals to work on,” details Bussio. “ACPA is driven by its strategic plan, and Matt Childs and his team did an excellent job completing the pervious plan, and I have no doubt they will be able to achieve all the goals of the new one.”