A visit with 2018 National Concrete Masonry Association Chairman Kent Waide
The National Concrete Masonry Association will trace the pivotal role members and staff have played in advancing one of the past century’s indispensable building products, then take stock of a promising future as part of a 100-year anniversary celebration. Festivities will run throughout the NCMA Midyear Meeting, July 30-August 3 in Chicago, home to the group’s forerunner, Concrete Products Association.
“In this highlight year, I hope to see NCMA ring out achievements of the past and look forward at how we can best take advantage of market opportunities and apply new technology to our industry,” says 2018 Chairman Kent Waide, president of Ruby Concrete Co., Madisonville, Ky.
The NCMA Midyear Meeting will be staged at the Intercontinental Hotel, located about a mile up Michigan Ave. from the Congress Hotel, where the Concrete Products Association held its first meeting, January 1919, after formally chartering the prior year. “The 100-Year Anniversary task group has done a super job since 2015 planning the event. The Midyear Meeting will celebrate association history and accomplishments, and show what lies ahead,” notes Waide.
An August 1 black tie gala will be extra special, he adds, while other highlights—Town Hall, and Business Lunch, among them—will have a different flavor compared to other midyear gatherings. Leading the roster of special guests NCMA is assembling for the gala are numerous past chairs of the board and honorary members, some of whom have not been able to attend association events in recent years.
Waide hails from a business embodying longevity. Ruby Concrete bills itself as the oldest company in western Kentucky, and the fourth oldest in the Bluegrass State. It has produced block for nearly 75 years, and evolved from an entity founded almost 50 years prior to NCMA. The Ruby Lumber Co. operated as a supplier to railroads and home builders from 1869 through World War II. In the 1940s, returning G.I. Clyde Ruby, grandson of founder John Ruby, acquired used Besser equipment and established block production, along with precast and ready mixed, under the Ruby Concrete banner.
Harry Waide joined Ruby Concrete in 1953, and became president of the company in the in the early 1970s and the majority shareholder in the 1980s. Kent Waide followed his father into the operation 25 years later, after a tour of duty in banking. “Although much as changed in banking since, I worked in commercial lending and dealt with a lot of businesses,” he observes. “They taught me budgeting and how to operate in a given organizational structure. I have carried that to our concrete business. Commercial lending also helped me understand the different business and organizational structures of large, medium and small producers at NCMA. I can relate to all of them.”
As NCMA Chairman, he adds, “My focus is two fold: Getting our Young Professionals Group members fully engaged in the association and the Concrete Masonry Check-off to the finish line. We have some very talented and energetic professionals in the industry and working at NCMA, and I want them involved, participating in committees, and having their ideas filtering into the association.”
The NCMA YPG fosters development of the next generation of leaders in manufactured concrete masonry and hardscape unit production. It provides networking opportunities, education and committee activities in an atmosphere focused on professional development. YPG had a well-attended gathering during the 2018 NCMA Convention in Indianapolis, which was followed up by a members-only workshop in March. “It energized me to see participants eager to be active in NCMA and the industry,” Waide recalls of the former gathering. “They have a lot of energy and great ideas. This a very positive part of our association and it is encouraging to see the growing number of YPG participants.”
He will call on members, young and old alike, to advance the Concrete Masonry Check-off, knowing: “It will be tough given the state of Congress, but it is up to us to usher the legislation through Capitol Hill. NCMA members and staff have alliances with Congresspersons across the board. We should have enough connections as an industry to get the program through.”
One of Waide’s contacts, Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY), has been the lead sponsor of the House version of the Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education, and Promotion Act, which would enable concrete block producers to pursue an industry-wide referendum authorizing a check-off program and collections from unit sales. True to the legislation title, the program would fund research, education and promotion supporting concrete masonry building methods. It would operate under a board of industry stakeholders—producers, contractors, technical representatives—and with U.S. Department of Commerce oversight.
NCMA Government Affairs Committee staff will track progress on companion House and Senate Concrete Masonry Research, Education and Promotion Act bills, and also look for meaningful moves on transportation and infrastructure funding by early 2019. NCMA and allied groups are likewise promoting durability, life cycle and other performance features common in cement-based product building methods as the federal government takes a hard look at resilient construction and related code developments.
NCMA, through its Government Affairs Committee, is an active advocate for its members on Capitol Hill. In addition to pursuing passage of check-off legislation (H.R. 1047 and S. 429), NCMA has been leveraging its efforts with partner organizations such as the North American Concrete Alliance (NACA) and the Buildstrong Coalition. A primary emphasis has been passing legislation and enacting policies in support of more resilient construction practices that encourage more investment in pre-disaster mitigation in order to reduce the high costs of post-disaster mitigation. NCMA has also been pursuing opportunities for the increased use of hardscape products, such as segmental retaining walls, in transportation applications.
In the spirit of the industry support role that has helped define the association throughout its history, the NCMA 2018-2020 strategic plan prioritizes branding and education. “We perform a lot of research to identify current building market needs and how the association is addressing them, and what we need to do more of or better,” Kent Waide explains. “Work this year on the NCMA website is aimed at presenting information in a more logical manner and making it easier for design and engineering professionals to use.
“On the education side, we are developing new building design resources and making them accessible to architects and engineers electronically. NCMA is doing this through a third-party education system that many target design and engineering professionals already have in place. They don’t have to change their methods; they can reference NCMA support material in the manner they are accustomed to. We need to be the leader for architects and engineers seeking technical information on concrete masonry.”
NCMA has a strong value proposition dovetailing energy efficiency, which is seeing renewed emphasis in building code development. “Energy is a key element in the way public agencies look at projects, as well as the sustainability of a building made with concrete masonry,” notes Waide. “Government looks at codes and standards differently than private construction interests. We need to make sure codes and standards are up to date and relevant in regard to concrete masonry building methods.”
Most NCMA producers report good or better conditions for a year when the association marks its centennial anniversary and embraces communications priorities for architectural/engineering/construction interests.
“We are seeing pockets of dramatic growth, others where construction activity is steady, others lagging. Things are not too different in 2018 than recent years,” says Waide. “We are in the ninth year of economic recovery where the pattern of construction growth has been so uneven it is hard to track. In general, metro areas across the country are seeing significant growth. In our market area, Nashville is very strong, closely followed by Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati. We can say the same on each of the coasts. Rural areas are typically lagging.”
A positive market vibe was evident for NCMA members and staff early in this milestone year. The 2018 Annual Convention was staged with ICON-EXPO 2018: Machinery & Equipment Show, where key manufacturers of block, paver and veneer stone production systems brought their latest iron to the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis.
“It was interesting to see the different types of equipment manufacturers have come up with, and their good automation solutions,” notes Waide. “We got a lot of positive feedback and are looking forward to bringing the ICON-EXPO: Machinery & Equipment Show back in 2021.”
NCMA plans to stage the ICON-EXPO: Machinery & Equipment Show event every three years, he adds, timed the year preceding the bauma trade fair in Munich—the world’s largest gathering of manufactured-concrete plant exhibitors. In the interim, NCMA is preparing for ICON-Xchange 2019 complete with B2B exchange meetings, February 14-16 at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Hotel near Disney World.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
The National Concrete Masonry Association was founded in 1918 as the Concrete Products Association, based in Chicago and operating in the then-new Portland Cement Association (1916) Cement Products Bureau. Anchoring NCMA 100-year anniversary observances ahead of the August 1, 2018 gala—to be staged blocks from the site of the charter Concrete Products Association meeting—is the www.ncma100.site, loaded with concrete masonry technical and marketing content from 1918 forward. Among many highlights is a gallery compiled from “The Evolution of Concrete Masonry Machinery” chapter of FROM THE CARRIAGE AGE TO THE SPACE AGE: The Birth and Growth of the Concrete Masonry Industry.
HAND TAMP ERA: 1904-1914
Harmon Palmer is credited with a machine offering a welcome alternative to crude, purely manual blockmaking processes, including those using wooden forms and emulating adobe building tactics. His invention was soon copied by serious and shady proprietors alike, their machines yielding a range of sub-par to wall-worthy product.
POWER TAMP ERA: 1914-1924
Early power tampers proved comfortably superior to hand tamp devices, reduced the cost of block production, and yielded product of greater strength, uniformity and quality. In most power tampers, bars or rods were lifted by either chains, cranks or cams and dropped by gravity. They were activated and stopped manually, placing product uniformity control strictly in the hands of the machine operator.
AUTOMATIC TAMP ERA: 1924-1938
The period between the World Wars was a transition in block machinery, ushering mainly improvements in power tamp models. Machines of more robust construction and engineering slowly emerged, typically showing a steadily higher degree of automatic operation.
VIBRATION ERA: 1938-PRESENT
Concrete construction observer Louis Gelbman of New York determined that vibration applied to high slump mixes could work in those of lower slump as well. Seven years after an application, he landed a patent on a block machine in which the mold was vibrated for short cycles to ensure complete packing. Just prior to the patent, Gelbman teamed with Michigan’s Steams Manufacturing on an exclusive sales and manufacturing agreement for the “Joltcrete” machine, the smallest version of which was shown at a 1936 NCMA meeting in Detroit.
www.ncma100.com site contains a wealth of producer member and association marketing materials and images illustrating the rise of concrete masonry from a commodity to value-added architectural product.
RUBY CONCRETE CO. At-A-Glance
Ruby Concrete bills itself as the fourth oldest business in Kentucky. From a rural base southwest of Louisville, it supplies concrete block, hardscape units, manufactured stone veneer and clay brick to customers in western Kentucky. In addition to building and hardscape markets, it also serves area coal mines, which use concrete block to build permanent underground seals, airways and support structures. Gray and architectural block are run on a production line completed in 2009 that tripled Ruby Concrete’s output capabilities.
NATIONAL CONCRETE MASONRY ASSOCIATION At-a-Glance
NCMA represents the producers and suppliers of concrete block, manufactured stone veneer, segmental retaining walls and articulating block assemblies. Diversification of producer member offerings has led to the designation of association programs around Hardscape Products, Masonry and Manufactured Stone market segments.
Over the past century, NCMA has engaged in a range of technical, research, education, marketing, certification, communications, and government relations activities, offering a variety of technical services and design aids through publications, visual presentations, computer programs, and technical training. Nevertheless, the association tells members, “NCMA is not just a building and a pile of programs. The people who make up our organization are what make it special. We have the people, ideas, know-how and opportunity. We are an industry full of doers.”
The NCMA Education and Research Foundation supports the industry as a 501(c) 3 affiliate. It identifies and funds projects and investigations to support industry advancements and market development. NCMA’s Research & Development Laboratory is dedicated to scientific testing and research of concrete masonry and hardscape products and systems. It features a small-scale unit production line equal simulating commercial methodologies.
Robert Thomas is staff president of NCMA, whose headquarters and R&D lab are located just east of Washington-Dulles International Airport at 13750 Sunrise Valley Drive, Herndon, VA 20171; 703/713-1900; www.ncma.org.
Ruby Concrete Co.
IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN
Oldcastle Architectural Products Group
Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Midwest Block & Brick
Jefferson City, Missouri