Pipe, box culvert producers extend long tradition of value and integrity

Our 2020 association chairman’s report series concludes this month with Bill Waushabaugh Jr., who leads one of the best family owned and operated businesses in concrete production. He credits the success of Northern Concrete Pipe Inc., now in its seventh decade, to a loyal group of team members, both family and nearly so. Membership in the American Concrete Pipe Association, which he chairs this year in a second tour of such duty, has likewise helped Northern Concrete solidify its Upper Midwest drainage construction market stake by growing a deep pipe and precast box culvert portfolio.

Like its national peers in Concrete Masonry, Interlocking Concrete Pavement, Precast, Precast/Prestressed and Ready Mixed, ACPA has functioned well in the face of this year’s pandemic challenges. Committees, teaming with national office and regional staff, proved with Concrete Pipe Week 2020 what can be achieved in virtual events when preferred in-person options are not on the table. President Doug Dayton, P.E. and Vice President of Marketing Michael Kremer, both new to ACPA this year, kicked off the August 16-22 schedule with videos covering “The Importance of Concrete Pipe” plus Forterra and Hancock Concrete plants in Iowa and Minnesota.

They set the tone for an agenda suiting government officials, engineers, contractors and other prospects, as well as the general public. In addition to an industry overview, plant tours and a technical webinar, Concrete Pipe Week saw the unveiling of a first of its kind timeline, “Innovations in Reinforced Concrete Pipe”. It tracks more than 150 years of developments in materials, production and drainage system construction. Companion content examines the evolution of concrete mix designs, from basic to admixture- and supplementary cementitious material-rich variety. Producers embrace materials enabling them to tailor concrete pipe and precast box culverts to specific local conditions. They also leverage innovations in a) reinforcement, where steel optimization lowers finished structure costs; plus, b) joint configuration and gasket designs, which improve quality control in field operations and raise performance characteristics tied to groundwater or backfill material infiltration and stormwater or sewage exfiltration.

“Product, Quality, Standards” completed a Concrete Pipe Week innovations profile. “Pipe is now available in many shapes and sizes. Plants have been automated, allowing the industry to respond to increased demand, while at the same time, increasing the quality, speed, and safety of production,” ACPA reports. “Quality control processes have been added at each stage. Many industry standards as well as design tools and programs have been developed.” While they compete with each other to find the “next best thing,” the association affirms, concrete pipe producers “are governed by stringent standards. Only well-researched, thoroughly proven advancements are adopted—a situation that eliminates nearly all risks to end users and the general public.”

In addition to performance standards, ACPA steadfastly promotes adherence to proper field practice and post-installation inspection to ensure drainage system value for taxpayers and private construction owners. Bill Washabaugh Jr. closes this month’s report reiterating the industry’s view of “open competition” legislation or policy measures for federal and state agencies. Contrary to the mission of ACPA, a group with a long history of engineering honesty and transparency, “open competition” gimmicks invite specification of lesser materials and solutions than concrete pipe and box culverts—even for conditions where engineers see only one rigid, long-lasting solution.