Well Governed

A visit with 2022 NRMCA Chairman John Holliday

John F. Holliday

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association annual convention in San Antonio this month will build on momentum from the fall 2021 ConcreteWorks Conference and Expo, the group’s first major in-person gathering in 18 months. Incoming Chairman John F. Holliday, chief executive officer and third generation principal of Holliday Rock Co., is set to reflect on NRMCA deliverables through two years of business and travel disruption, then call for decisive industry moves.

“2020 Chairman John Carew and 2021 Chairman Abbott Lawrence and NRMCA President Michael Philipps successfully navigated challenging pandemic times and showed leadership throughout,” he says. “Our association not only survived, but thrived due to their efforts.” To continue the progress of his Carew Concrete and Martin Marietta Materials peers, Holliday embraces these directives:

  • Ensure a sustainable, well governed leadership team. Maintain good Association governance, review bylaws for their effectiveness, and leverage what members and staff have learned from meeting and communicating during the pandemic. “A strong governance model and collaboration are paramount,” he says. “I have seen this over the years through serving in many NRMCA capacities, and working with organizations outside our business.”
  • Develop a strong strategic plan diving into Association activities. The plan will be informed by work already done on the Value Proposition initiative and the subject of mid-May meetings in Chicago. The strategic planning process charts a future course and then drives the actions that move the organization forward. NRMCA Executive Committee, directors, members and staff leaders will confer on a path to 2030, to include an alignment of committee and task force objectives. 
  • Demonstrate membership as a necessity for ready mixed producers. Continue to develop and use a targeted campaign regarding the NRMCA Value Proposition that makes membership a necessity and joy for concrete producers large and small across America. Emphasize the four pillars they observe or realize as NRMCA members: 1) Growing market share and increasing sales; 2) Networking among a diverse group of managers, chief executives, company owners and hourly staff; 3) Driving operational excellence through education and certification; and, 4) Understanding today’s materials and construction markets to stay “current, competitive and effective.”

One of the key Build With Strength focus areas in 2022 is a partnership with Habitat for Humanity International, spawning projects coast to coast. The 2021 roster included an insulating concrete form home (right) with Athens Area Habitat for Humanity and the Georgia Ready Mixed Concrete Association, plus key suppliers Thomas Concrete and Quad-Lock Building Systems (ICF). The Habitat partnership extends design assistance that has helped secure major ICF installations, including developer Urban Waters’ Bungalows on the Lake at Prairie Queen (left) planned community in Omaha, Neb.

This month’s convention agenda and likely discussion topics reinforce the 2022 NRMCA Chairman’s directives. The NRMCA Workforce Development Committee, for example, will unveil a Driver Recruitment/Retention branding effort. It provides assets producers can personalize for their businesses and use to attract the ready mixed concrete delivery professionals needed to keep fleets rolling. Additionally, the Workforce Development Financial Performance Improvement Group has scheduled a Digital Transformation and Process Improvement Task Group charter meeting. Members will respond to the industry’s information technology challenges, from providing peer support to addressing emerging issues like eTicketing. 

Driver Recruitment/Retention and Digital Transformation speak to the committee and task force alignment that John Holliday prioritizes. “Our members take full advantage of the growing catalogue of education and business support offerings that the Workforce Development team has put together,” he says. “We were forced to go virtual two years ago and are now doing both in-person and online training events. This has expanded our reach and given members the opportunity to take advantage of NRMCA offerings from their home office, plant or at a separate location.”

As Workforce Development members tend to educational and support activities underpinning operational excellence in ready mixed, the Concrete Promotion and Government Affairs Committees, along with NRMCA-aligned Build With Strength Coalition, have producer members uniquely positioned to respond to recent measures affecting concrete mix design selection in federally funded building and nonbuilding work. Just last month, the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced a Buy Clean Task Force to “harness the federal government’s massive purchasing power to support low-carbon materials.” The Department of Transportation, meanwhile, signaled plans to use low-carbon concrete in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act-funded projects. And, the General Services Administration issued “Request for Information Regarding Concrete: Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) and Low Embodied Carbon Products.” 

Thanks to Concrete Promotion Committee and NRMCA Sustainability and Structures Department staff work dating back nearly a decade, federal officials will find the ready mixed concrete industry harboring far and away the deepest EPD library among construction material or product categories. The Build With Strength Coalition leverages that library in one its top references, “Strength Through Transparency,” affording architectural, engineering and construction interests proof of cast-in-place concrete’s sustainability attributes in low- to mid-rise structures.

“NRMCA is working with a growing number of ready mixed producers to increase Environmental Product Declaration awareness and uptake,” Holliday explains. “This will allow the concrete industry a better opportunity to compete on projects where sustainability metrics must be defined and met.” EPDs and other data tools from the NRMCA Structures and Sustainability Department, he notes, will augment ready mixed producers’ participation in the Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality by 2050. NRMCA is a charter signatory to the October 2021 document, where Portland Cement Association issues a sweeping call to stakeholder action or scientific accounting across a Clinker, Cement, Concrete, Construction, Carbonation value chain.

Beyond Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality efforts, the NRMCA Structures and Sustainability and Local Paving Departments continue to uphold the Concrete Promotion Committee mission. “We remain very bullish on market development,” says Holliday. “Department teams are driving real success by bringing new projects to members. They are also engaging project teams with NRMCA State Affiliates and a variety of professional organizations like the American Institute of Architects. The result: Our market share is trending up.”

Alongside its primary commercial market thrust, the Build With Strength Coalition is expanding a Habitat for Humanity International partnership to advance insulating concrete form (ICF) or other cast-in-place concrete methods among the home building giant’s North American chapters. “We had 18 houses under way at the end of 2021; another 20 are on this year’s slate. Our goal is to provide Habitat families the most resilient and energy efficient homes, regardless of region,” says Holliday, whose home state yielded the partnership’s first deliverable: An ICF home in Paradise, the northern California town ravaged by a 2018 wildfire. 

Although Build With Strength is focused on multifamily, commercial, lodging, school and other low to mid-rise market projects, he adds, NRMCA sees the Habitat partnership as an opportunity to address affordable housing needs and showcase how concrete can deliver improved building performance at a competitive cost. The Habitat model allows the Coalition and local stakeholders to make concrete building methods more accessible to the general public than larger commercial jobs.

Irvine plant

Bakersfield plant

Palmdale plant

Holliday Rock is a mid-sized concrete and aggregate producer in a sprawling population center where a handful of larger, fully integrated operators account for most of the competition. The producer is based in Upland, Calif., about midway between downtown Los Angeles and the heart of the Inland Empire spanning San Bernardino and Riverside counties. With 30 locations and a payroll of 700, it operates a fleet of 250 mixer trucks, plus 100 additional power units for aggregate and cement hauling. 

NRMCA’s 2022 Chairman has been involved with his family business for 35 years. Working through the ranks to the helm, John Holliday operated heavy equipment, loaders, bull dozers and ready mixed plants, but left concrete deliveries to team members holding CDLs. He treats this year’s milestone for Holliday Rock—80 years serving southern California agencies, builders and contractors—as even more cause to “work hard and keep our eye on the ball.”

“We take great pride in the safety of our people and aim to provide a high level of quality and customer satisfaction,” he affirms. “In many of our locations, we have been part of the community for years and enjoy the relationships we have with neighbors, residents, organizations and governing bodies.”

“We are in an interesting space as a strong player in a major metropolitan market,” he adds. “One of the rewards of NRMCA membership has been meeting other companies like ours. We gain insight on navigating a business or market with mostly larger competitors. NRMCA is a group of many different companies from around North America and the world. The range and depth of member perspectives are among our strengths as an association.”

Like many producers across the industry, Holliday views potential concrete and aggregate demand this year approaching the record or near-record 2004-2005 levels. Strong residential building activity is converging with stepped heavy/civil work thanks to the impending flow of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act transportation and environmental construction funds.

This year’s market opportunities don’t mask inflation, plant and fleet equipment part sourcing, new truck commitments from OEM and body builders, and driver shortages. “These are challenging, but positive times,” Holliday concludes. “But we’re a nimble industry with a resilient group of companies. We should have a safe and prosperous 2022.”