2015 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Chairman Chris Pastorius reviews a productive year long on change
By Don Marsh
On the heels of members’ near-record business surge, a new staff leader’s appointment, convention and committee meeting schedule realignment, strengthened allied group partnerships, and formal launch of a sustainable plant program, 2015 is on track to be the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s most pivotal year of the decade.
Transitions have been top of mind for PCI Chairman Chris Pastorius, vice president and general manager of the Metromont Corp., Richmond, Va., plant. He entered his term with the Institute and members operating on a high note: Total U.S. sales of above ground, precast/prestressed concrete in 2014 increased more than 20 percent, to $4.4 billion, from the prior year. That figure marked the largest year-over-year jump in the Institute’s history, underscored precast concrete market share gains in several segments, and was more than double the increase in overall 2014 construction from 2013 levels. Projections accompanying the 2014 shipment data suggest PCI members will see annual sales increases through 2018.
At Metromont and PCI, Pastorius has seen the South Atlantic, whose states encompass 27 percent of member volume, as the best positioned area of the country in 2015, based on backlog and 2014 shipments. Rounding out the top-performing geographical areas for precast/prestressed concrete tonnage are the Southwest and Northwest.
Excepting transportation and hollow-core products, structural precast concrete made up about 62 percent of PCI producers’ 2014 volume. Activity in parking structures, which utilize mostly structural precast concrete systems, increased about 8.5 percent last year, and is pacing an additional 3 percent bump in 2015. The buildings and transportation products mix in 2014 and 2015 has been skewed by the bridge market, which PCI producers saw drop by about 8 percent in 2014 from prior year levels, due primarily to the absence of long-term federal highway funding. Highway bill uncertainty has contrasted with members’ continued development and promotion of new girder profiles bringing departments of transportation greater economy and extended span options.
POWER OF ONE
Key to his chairman’s term is a principle Pastorius calls the Power of One, centering on making just one minor change or process improvement at a time. “As a member of PCI, you have numerous opportunities that use the Power of One to create value. The question is: Are all members taking advantage of these opportunities?”
|Supplied by the Metromont Richmond plant, the 473-space Crown Plaza Parking Structure in Gaithersburg, Md., required 483 pieces of architectural precast covering 126,000 sq. ft., including panels with architectural buff concrete mixes and integral thin brick inlays. Richmond crews fabricated double tee members with C-Grid carbon fiber mesh to reduce flange thickness and impart additional, long-term durability characteristics for the project’s three supported levels.|
As 2015 chairman, he’s focused on “driving member value through business growth. Sometimes it’s a number of products or services an institute or association offers that will attract and sustain members; other times it might be one idea or takeaway that convinces a producer of the value of membership.”
The deep resume he has brought to the chairman’s post embodies best practices gleaned from more than two decades with two PCI members. Prior to joining Metromont in 2011, he served in senior management capacities at Oldcastle Precast for 21 years. He led the 2006–2007 construction of the company’s then-largest greenfield project—an Edgewood, Md., insulated panel and hollow core operation—built to consolidate properties from the acquisition of the Stresscon plants in Maryland. Pastorius has served as a PCI director since 2008, and participated in Productivity Committee, Board Nominating and Budget Planning & Review Team assignments, along with PCI Zone 5 and 6 director terms. He has also served as chairman of AltusGroup, licensor of CarbonCast technology.
He and fellow PCI Executive Committee members opened 2015 with a new ally at Portland Cement Association, but a void atop the PCI Chicago headquarters office. Toward mid-year, officers, members and staff welcomed newly appointed PCI President and CEO Robert Risser, succeeding James Toscas, who after 11 years at the helm of PCI was tapped to lead PCA. Prior to joining PCI, Risser was Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute president and CEO, and Michigan Concrete Paving Association executive director.
During a nine-year CRSI tenure, Risser oversaw the group’s attainment of American National Standards Institute accreditation as a Standards Development Organization, plus the creation of the Government Affairs Committee and REBAR PAC Political Action Committee. A registered professional engineer with University of Illinois master’s and bachelor’s degrees in civil engineering, Risser serves on the ACI Foundation’s Strategic Development Council board and Concrete Research Council executive committee, and was the inaugural Concrete and Masonry Related Associations chair.
“Bob has helped grow each organization he has worked for, and prides himself on developing strong value propositions for members through a leadership model that is driven by collaboration,” notes Pastorius.
COMMITTEE, CONVENTION SCHEDULE
Risser met with the Board during his first week at PCI in late June, and spent the summer and early fall traveling the country meeting with members and region directors. His first membership-wide gathering was in mid-October with the PCI Committee Days in Louisville. This year brought the first Committee Days scheduling at a point on the calendar traditionally reserved for the PCI Convention & Expo and National Bridge Conference. After a 2015 hiatus, the Convention is moving—along with semiannual committee meetings—to a late-winter schedule, co-locating with the National Precast Concrete Association’s The Precast Show. The PCI Expo component will bring a host of exhibitors and attendees from the fall gathering.
The Precast Show co-location will help PCI participants meet continuing education requirements, network with an expanded pool of industry leaders, and learn of new developments in precast concrete production methods, machinery, equipment and materials. Compared to separate spring and fall events, the combined trade exhibits will be even more fertile ground for the Power of One concept Pastorius has impressed as chairman. In a trade show environment, he notes, “An exhibitor can suggest a simple solution to an everyday problem or challenge in a precast plant setting. An idea or alternate method might equate to a dollar savings in a function or task performed 100 times a day or several hundred times throughout the workweek. The potential for annual five-digit savings become real. Now, PCI members will be exposed to 300 exhibitors at The Precast Show, as compared to 100 that traditionally exhibited at the PCI Convention and Expo.
“By hosting these two events at the same time and venue, we are creating the ultimate show for our industry and providing attendees with the best value for their investment of time and money.” The co-located events, he adds, afford a) NPCA members and Precast Show attendees the opportunity of participating in the National Bridge Conference, plus such PCI education staples as sales & marketing, quality control and plant certification sessions; and, b) PCI members exposure to NPCA sessions, especially those tailored to plant staff with an emphasis on personnel training.
Scheduled March 1–5 at the Gaylord Opryland, Nashville, the PCI Convention and National Bridge Conference will offer 35-plus technical, transportation, research, marketing, business, and productivity education sessions; 65-plus Committee and Council meetings; the new PCI Welcome Program and Luncheon; and, Celebration of Excellence awards gala. Schedules have changed from the former fall agenda to accommodate expanded trade show hours and reduce most attendees’ overall time requirements. Education sessions and committee meetings will occur on the same days, but not concurrently.
Metromont Richmond and five sister sites are among nearly 80 plants participating in a timely endeavor PCI officially kicked off this year with the Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute and NPCA. The North American Precast Concrete Sustainable Plant Program (NAPCSPP) challenges facilities to proactively set higher goals of resource efficiency and recycling. The program was chartered with an eye to reducing “the environmental impact at the manufacturing level while creating a culture of sustainability within the industry.”
Plants are provided a web-based software program to monitor performance standards in two categories: Environmental—Dust Control, Process Water, Storm Water and Chemical Management, Noise Control; and, Sustainability—Energy, Materials, Transportation, Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, Total Primary Energy, and Water Consumption. NAPCSPP organizers enlisted the software programming services of Ottawa-based Athena Sustainable Materials Institute, which has consulted the Carbon Leadership Forum, National Concrete Masonry Association and National Ready Mixed Concrete Association in Product Category Rule, Life Cycle Assessment or Environmental Product Declaration development.
The program encourages continuous improvement and compliance to environmental and sustainability regulations and standards. Performance builds on PCI’s existing North American Precast Concrete Life Cycle Assessment research. Participating plants submit confidential benchmark reports on a quarterly basis; aggregated results are communicated to the public through the North American Precast Concrete Industry Sustainability Report.
Alongside convention, committee and session planning leading into Nashville next March, PCI has made strong strides in day-to-day education programming this year. Pastorius cites especially two online efforts: “In Discover High Performance and other Design Resource sections accessed through the PCI home page, we have seen more than 10 million page views, and site traffic doubling from 2013 to 2014—to more than 40,000 visitors/month. We want to spread the good news about what our products and solutions bring to construction.”
|The Metromont Charlotte plant’s local project log has included the architectural components for Capitol Towers, with 10-level office building and 1,600-space parking structure. The 430 cladding pieces’ 85,000 sq. ft include 5,000 sq. ft. of cast-in granite panels. The parking structure’s 1,411-piece precast schedule encompasses 115,000 sq. ft. of field-topped and 407,000 sq. ft. of factory-topped double tee members provided by Metromont’s Greenville headquarters plant.|
The PCI Online Academy debuted in March during The Precast Show in Orlando, where Institute officers and members joined NPCA peers for committee and related work surrounding the March 2016 Nashville agenda. The Academy launched with 70 paid participants in the inaugural Basic Prestressed Concrete Design course. Subsequent courses will follow a similar template around nine hours of education, including 90-minute weekly online sessions. The program offers continuing education units and enlists academia, PCI members and staff as instructors.
PCI will enjoy a greatly expanded audience for Academy and other educational offerings. In mid-2015, it was approved for the International Code Council Preferred Provider Program, opening Institute courses to ICC’s 58,000 members and 40,000 certificate holders. ICC-approved courses netting continuing education credits cover construction codes, standards, and guidelines, along with construction materials, products, and methods.
While educational programs have traditionally favored the engineering and technical side of precast/prestressed concrete, PCI is also mindful of the business aspects of plant and project management. Market recovery and growth the past three years have brought demand for new talent. “PCI and the PCI Foundation are doing a solid job in developing the next generation of leaders and influencers, both within PCI and the academic community, but more work needs to be done,” Pastorius affirms.
“Leadership PCI (LPCI) started with one idea and then one class. Ten years later, there are 128 graduates, of whom 120 remain in the industry. LPCI has afforded members an opportunity to build bench strength. This year, a fee was added for participating in LPCI; the value and benefits that come with this program far outweigh the expenses. For members who have a future leader requiring leadership training, the best and most economical way to start a development program is through LPCI.”
|The Metromont Hiram plant recently shipped a double tee package totaling 122,000 square feet for 930 Howell Mill Road, a mixed-use development on the west side of downtown Atlanta. The 425-space parking structure is topped with a swimming pool and sundeck, an amenity with which local developer Perennial Properties aims to differentiate the project in a competitive market for upscale apartments.|
LPCI is among PCI Foundation deliverables since its 2001 chartering, led by JVI Inc. President Jim Voss. The initial goal of expanding educational activities of precast concrete at colleges and universities has been realized and compounded. Ten active studios are operating for architecture and engineering students across the industry, Clemson University, South Carolina, the latest addition.
“Because of the efforts of the PCI Foundation and the generosity of those who have donated funds, these graduates are now our allies and have a much better understanding of the benefits that precast/prestressed concrete products bring to a project,” Pastorius notes.
Another area where he sees ongoing opportunities to leverage Power of One principles is in PCI committees covering buildings, transportation structures and specialty precast/prestressed. Of 140 U.S. producer members, 54 have employees on committees, a 39 percent participation rate. Of 74 PCI supplier members, 24 companies have employees on committees, for a 32 percent participation rate.
“The challenge for both PCI and our membership is how to increase the number of volunteers so as to have a positive impact on the participant, the membership, and Institute,” Pastorius observes. “It only takes one committee member to help move an idea from a thought, to a project, to a value-added solution. Conversely, it only takes one idea that a member acquires at a committee meeting to make a positive impact on a process or procedure at the company’s business.
“We would not have the PCI body of knowledge without our exceptional volunteers; we just need more. If every member company that does not have an employee on a committee allowed just one employee to participate, there would be 82 new committee members. Eighty two more volunteers helping bring projects to completion and generating new ideas.”
METROMONT CORP. – AT-A-GLANCE
Widely known throughout Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Midwest markets for structural and architectural precast/prestressed, Metromont operates Greenville (headquarters) and Spartanburg, S.C., Charlotte, N.C., Richmond, Va., Bartow, Fla., and Hiram, Ga., plants. Each operation is equipped to provide a deep offering of standard and custom architectural finishes and treatments. Sales, engineers and plant staff work with architects, engineers, contractors and developers across the commercial and institutional building spectrum to deliver schools, parking structures, data centers, mixed-use and multi-family projects, plus industrial, food processing, sports and entertainment facilities.
Metromont’s six plants are participating in the new PCI/CPCI/NPCA North American Precast Concrete Sustainable Plant Program. Well ahead of program development, the producer was a first mover in energy management, supplementary cementitious material usage, water recycling, waste minimization and other best practices synonymous with sustainable precast production—documenting metrics in its “Capacity to Endure” report.
PRECAST/PRESTRESSED CONCRETE INSTITUTE – AT-A-GLANCE
The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute may have its headquarters in Chicago, but its membership is far-reaching. PCI has 11 regional affiliates across the U.S. and maintains relationships with allied organizations, both national and worldwide. Members include precast concrete structures and components producers, as well as architects, consultants, contractors, developers, educators, engineers, materials suppliers, service providers, and students.
Founded in 1954, PCI is the leading developer of standards and methods for designing, fabricating, and constructing precast concrete structures and systems. The Institute maintains a staff of technical and marketing professionals to foster greater understanding and use of precast/prestressed concrete. It also operates the world’s leading certification program for plants and individuals in the precast concrete business.
PCI publishes a broad array of technical manuals, reports, periodicals, an award-winning technical journal, and other informational documents. Additionally, it conducts research and development projects, conferences, plus building and transportation structure awards programs. Robert J. Risser, P.E., is PCI president and chief executive officer. The Institute headquarters is at 200 W. Adams St., Suite 2100, Chicago, IL 60606; 312/786-0300; [email protected]; www.pci.org.
|PCI President and CEO Bob Risser addressed a member-wide gathering for the first time in October, as the new Fall Committee Days format unfolded in Louisville.|
Vice President, General Manager
IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN (2014)
President & Chief Operating Officer
Gate Construction Materials Group
Oldcastle Precast, Inc., Spokane
Spokane Valley, Washington