Industry keeps rising to the occasion

Public health matters, travel restrictions and a bow to limited gathering realities preempted our plan to distribute this issue at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association ConcreteWorks Conference and Expo, originally scheduled for next month in Colorado, along with the National Mixer Truck Driver Championship. Concrete Products shares the disappointment producers, drivers and others feel with the absence of a productive powwow at the Gaylord Rockies Resort, but looks forward to marking National Mixer Driver Appreciation Week, October 5-9, and the virtual ConcreteWorks, October 7-8.

Thanks to excellent market and operating perspectives from 2020 NRMCA Chairman John Carew and his Wisconsin family business, Carew Concrete & Supply Co. (pages 40-45); Concrete Supply Co., Geiger Ready Mix, Geneva Rock Products and Miles Sand & Gravel executives (Industry Roundtable, pages 44-49); Irving Materials and CarbonCure Technologies (pages 50-51); and plant/fleet technology startup Complete Load Solutions (pages 52-53), we have a solid content line up, even without the ConcreteWorks element.

EssentialThe NRMCA Chairman’s Report reminds us of the limited hit concrete construction has taken thus far amid national, state and local pandemic response measures. Based on a model of Portland Cement Association shipment figures, ready mixed production was off 7.5 percent during the panic-wrought month of April. After the initial shutdown disruptions and preparations for new plant and site safety protocols, Carew Concrete & Supply and peers across the country have sustained business at or near projected levels for the year, but are cautious on the outlook given many unknown factors for 2021 and beyond.

The relative stability of concrete demand is thanks to pivotal response by NRMCA and PCA, along with the American Concrete Pipe Association, National Concrete Masonry Association, National Precast Concrete Association and Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute in March to the prospect of national and state officials viewing construction as activity other than “essential.” As we noted here in April, the six groups were among 23 signatories of a letter to the White House and governors explaining the role of construction in infrastructure critical to emergency services and health care delivery.

Success of the coalition effort speaks for itself: 48 states deemed construction essential. After securing that far-reaching determination, NRMCA members and staff proceeded to build a deep library of plant and operating best practice resources. Guidelines and graphics have been tapped domestically and overseas to protect drivers, plant and equipment operators as well as customers.

Among U.S.-centric resources, one especially hit home for the NRMCA Chairman: A template for ready mixed producer-customized documentation of concrete as an essential business. When a Wisconsin trooper pulled over a Carew Concrete mixer, the driver put the essential status matter to rest thanks to a document his employer had the presence of mind to prepare.

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