The Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute conferred top honors on industry leaders Chris Ross and David Bender at its annual meeting in San Antonio, dovetailing the 2015 National Concrete Masonry Association convention and ICON-Xchange.
|Chris Ross (left) and David Bender charted a prosperous course for the Interlocking Pavement Concrete Institute and their former businesses’ present owners, Oldcastle Architectural and Pavestone Co.|
The ICPI Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes extended, high impact contributions to the industry through knowledge, technical innovation, and advocacy, coupled with noteworthy public service activities at local, regional, state, national or international levels. It emphasizes innovation, dedication to employee safety and well-being, demonstrated leadership, and outstanding contribution to the industry from volunteer activities advancing ICPI and the concrete paver industry.
“Chris and David helped lay the groundwork for which our association and industry operates,” said 2014–15 ICPI Chairman David Pitre (Pavestone). “Without them, our industry would not be where it is today. They are both true pioneers to the industry and I can think of none other better fitting to receive such prestigious awards.”
As 1999–2000 ICPI Chairman, Chris Ross supported the transition from a small association management company to Bostrom Corp., who helped grow the Institute from a $700,000 budget in 1998 to $2 million-plus in 2007. Under his chairmanship, ICPI laid foundations the board and committees rely on today, among them the operating policy manual, financial reserves policy, certification course development, and regional meeting schedule. The ICPI Foundation was also created during his term.
Growing up in the industry, he worked in his father Darwin’s block operation, Balcon, and later took over the business. He and five others were responsible for creating the framework of a paver industry association. Among groundbreaking projects Balcon supplied was the first phase of a Port of Baltimore wharf bulkhead, requiring 230,000 square feet of 120-mm thick paving stones. Port officials have since approved installation of more than 2 million square feet of paving stones for container operations and vehicle storage. The Baltimore project set an example among port engineers and engineering consultants, ushering paver specifications for other U.S. port facilities.
In following years, Ross helped expand commercial and residential market prospects for pavers in Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia. In 1994, he sold his Zenith big board machine-equipped Balcon to Oldcastle, a newcomer to the North American hardscape business.
Upon presenting Ross the ICPI Lifetime Achievement Award, Oldcastle APG East President Steve Berry noted, “His experience in the realities of production processes joined with his financial modeling skills became a resource for Oldcastle.” Following the transaction, Ross helped plan and build five new plants around Masa and Rekers big board paver machines.
David Bender left his family farm in the early 1960s to attend Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, a Civil Engineering Technology degree preparing him for tours of duty in geotechnical engineering, including materials and concrete testing. He established B&B Concrete Products in Kitchener, Ontario, while working for Bell Canada and enlightening his employer of precast concrete utility products as alternatives to cast-in-place structures.
In 1980, Bender moved to Texas and established Pavestone Co., setting it on a course to become one of industry’s top players. Seven years later he returned to Canada to build Pavestone Plus (later renamed Navastone), where he worked for the next 20 years—leading into the sale of his business to Hanson Building Products.
Noted Elliot Bender, who presented the ICPI Lifetime Achievement Award to his father: “Throughout his career, dad was a known as a revolutionary in the industry.” In 1986, Elliot Bender recalled, his father penned a passionate letter to NCMA detailing how interlocking concrete pavers differ from other pavement types, and urged the industry to support and market paving stones accordingly. Long before its 1993 inception, David Bender’s efforts helped lay the groundwork for ICPI—Pavestone Plus among its founding members.
Bender served as 1995–1997 ICPI chairman, where his leadership and vision helped shape the Institute and spur development of the ICPI Certification Program, now spanning 25,000-plus participants. Beyond his pivotal role in the emergence of skilled, certified concrete paver installers, he directed marketing efforts to help overcome other barriers to paver sales success: product certification, public relations campaigns, and presentations on municipal products and mechanical installation.