A visit with American Concrete Pipe Association Chairman Kurt Johnson
Sharing fellow members’ eagerness to put two years of business and workforce disruptions behind them, Kurt Johnson embraces the challenges and positive market signals accompanying his 2022 American Concrete Pipe Association Chairman’s term.
“For more than a century, this organization has pulled member producers, associates and allies together for the advancement of the industry. We continue to focus attention and resources where we can deliver the greatest influence and value to our stakeholders,” he says. “With record funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), a motivated member base and ACPA’s impressive staff, we are poised to have an even more significant impact on the sustainability of the communities we serve and the resilience of the infrastructure we help build.”
Johnson arrived in the concrete products and structures business in 2008, proceeding from plant manager to chief operating officer, then president and CEO of Utah’s Geneva Pipe Co., a longtime ACPA member. Following an ownership transition, he serves as vice president of Geneva Pipe and Precast, Northwest Pipe Co., a publicly traded company based in Vancouver, Wash. specializing in engineered, large diameter steel pressure pipe systems for use in water infrastructure.
Nearly 15 years in dry and wet cast concrete production, coupled with ACPA Committee work, afford Johnson firm grasp on public and private construction markets whose stakeholders increasingly place a premium on life cycle performance and cost factors—the underpinnings of concrete storm water and sanitary sewer systems. Keen to life cycle math and the manufactured-concrete value proposition, he shares with Concrete Products chairman’s term priorities:
Sustainability and Resilience Focus. Under the leadership of recently appointed President Steven Hawkins, ACPA staff will assist producer members in driving the message of reinforced concrete pipe and box culvert field performance. The Association is devoting considerable energy to ensure specifiers, project engineers and agencies know the durability and long service life characteristics positioning reinforced concrete atop construction material resiliency and sustainability rankings.
“Our members are an integral part of the sustainable solution to the communities they serve. Our products make communities a more resilient and safer place for the families who live work and play there. Our products also protect and leave our environment better than it was before through the highest quality stormwater mitigation.”
Leading ACPA 2022-23 deliverables include Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for concrete pipe and precast drainage elements. An Industry Wide EPD will set a benchmark for producers and equip them with a document poised to become part of contract submittals, especially in light of IIJA provisions and new Federal Highway Administration directives. EPD issuance will dovetail new branding efforts supporting the product resiliency and sustainability focus, plus the launch of an updated www.concretepipe.org site with improved messaging over the prior Association portal. ACPA is working ASTM E60 on Performance of Buildings to develop resilience standards for infrastructure subject to extreme weather events, namely wildfires and flooding.
Improved Education. ACPA continues to invest heavily in educational resources, a commitment most recently indicated in the appointment of a new director of Education and digital tool investments. “We are identifying new channels to reach a broader audience with the same high level of quality education, and adapting to the different ways our interested parties (e.g., members, DOTs, engineers) desire to consume information,” observes Steven Hawkins. “This includes investing in personnel as the ACPA continues to grow its engineer team in the South-Central and Western regions.”
Storm drain infrastructure market conditions remain near record levels. Shipment growth for ACPA members is primarily constrained by global supply chain issues affecting most of the production or manufacturing spectrum. “The need for extensive improvements to our nationwide infrastructure is driving the increased use of concrete pipe and box culvert,” Kurt Johnson affirms. “Members are meeting this high demand for consistent, quality products through the industry’s strict quality assurance program, QCast Certification. QCast is a third-party audited, ANSI-accredited quality control program. Engineers and agencies view reinforced concrete pipe as the time-tested gold standard, offering reliable, virtually maintenance-free, permanent service for storm drainage.”
“Although overdue, the IIJA has spotlighted the need to increase environmental and transportation infrastructure project funding,” he adds. “It is a win-win for our communities and local job creators. The longevity and resilience inherent in concrete pipe and precast box culvert will enable much-needed improvements to extend critical infrastructure service life. Given the magnitude of pent-up demand for transportation system improvements and capacity expansion across North America, there is little indication concrete structure shipments will slow over the next several years.”
Johnson and Executive Committee members credit President Steven Hawkins with maintaining the strong momentum ACPA has realized over the last few years, even with pandemic disruptions. Since his early-2022 arrival, Hawkins has visited members, allied partners, and public officials.
At ACPA headquarters in Irving, Texas, he has leveraged experience from the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute and other organizations to tighten internal workings and processes. He is likewise leading the processes in developing performance analytics, rebranding, and digital presence charges.
“His innovative approach, experience leading and advancing other organizations, and forward-thinking mindset are integral to the success of our producer and associate members,” Johnson affirms. “Steve is a proven leader with a long history in design and construction. He has the vision to steer ACPA in its mission to prove and promote the value of reinforced concrete pipe and box culverts. Believing in the highly skilled staff already in place when he arrived has netted operational excellence while his leadership has allowed new efforts in critical areas of improvement.”
CONCRETE PIPE WEEK 2022
“Concrete Pipe Week was an overwhelming success for the ACPA and its members,” says Vice President of Marketing Michael Kremer. “This year’s theme was ‘Build for the future. Build with concrete,’ celebrating the long lifespan, resilience, sustainability, and other benefits the industry provides to America’s infrastructure.”
Over the August 14-20 window, members and allies hosted plant tours and demonstrations. ACPA staged four webinars, including a virtual tour of member company Concrete Pipe & Precast’s Ashland, Va. operation. The tour proved especially insightful for agency and general public participants new to concrete mix batching and delivery, pipe or box reinforcing cage fabrication, plus product curing, transfer and testing.
“Concrete Pipe Week is always a fun and productive time for members. During an election year, public office incumbents or candidates visit plants and see how an integral infrastructure product comes to life,” Kurt Johnson observes. “More than 30 states saw governors or other elected officials sign proclamations declaring Concrete Pipe Week this year. The event brought the industry together to celebrate and highlight the local, state, and national impact of concrete pipe and box culvert.”
AMERICAN CONCRETE PIPE ASSOCIATION At-a-Glance
Founded in 1907, ACPA is a nonprofit organization of concrete pipe and precast concrete box culvert producers, plus allied equipment manufacturers, material suppliers or service providers. Member companies are located throughout the U.S., Canada and more than 40 overseas countries. As the voice of the industry, the Association provides a wide range of research, technical and marketing support assets to promote and advance the use of concrete pipe and precast boxes for drainage systems and many other applications. Archives at www.concretepipe.org, coupled with ACPA’s social media network, embody a wealth of information, knowledge, and downloads.
Members account for 90 percent of U.S. concrete pipe shipments. Through ACPA, they advance knowledge of sound drainage strategies and deliver education programs focused on all aspects of pipe and drainage structures. The annual Pipe School and Pipe Show, staged early in the calendar and primarily at Texas venues, are oriented to member company staff plus drainage system engineers and other stakeholders at federal, state and local agency levels. Rigorous in content delivery, the Pipe School encompasses concrete pipe and precast box courses, training and certification for graduates, member-hosted plant tours, and quality sessions. Course developers are especially mindful of the mechanical, electrical and computer competencies that managers and production employees need to maintain and operate modern concrete pipe and precast plants. Ongoing education for ACPA members and their customers or prospects continues across the calendar through webinars on technical, marketing and sales topics. ACPA regional engineers and state association counterparts deliver additional education and training to agency personnel and drainage system specifiers.
The Association also maintains the voluntary QCast Plant Certification program to advance quality in manufactured-concrete drainage structures and components. Certification provides agencies or project owners quality assurances beyond those indicated in ASTM International and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials standards. A QCast Plant Certification manual posted at www.concretepipe.org or www.qcast.org establishes program requirements. It informs the basis for third party auditors to certify plants producing concrete pipe, manholes, box culverts, three-sided structures, precast elements and drainage product or structure gaskets.
Steven Hawkins, AIA, is ACPA president and based at Association headquarters, 5605 N. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 340, Irving, TX 75038; 972/506-7216.
Geneva Pipe and Precast,
A Northwest Pipe Company
Thompson Pipe Group