Topping the 2023 radar

Major industry developments last year did not match the eventful 2021, when a dealmaking flourish put leading admixture, plant equipment and ready mixed or manufactured concrete brands or market stakes on track to change hands. But 2022 served up its share of surprises. A review of the year’s most impactful content from these pages and our companion Concrete Currents weekly e-newsletter yields names, trends and storylines sure to surface, unfold or gain steam in 2023:

SRM Concrete. Leading into 2020, the Tennessee producer had emerged as one of the fastest movers in building ready mixed production capacity and market footprint. This month’s report (page 14) confirms pre-2021 activity was an opening act, as SRM Concrete has consolidated Carolinas and Florida stakes, while entering Texas, Colorado and the New York-New Jersey markets. The latter entail its boldest move yet: Acquisition of the USC-Atlantic properties from Vulcan Materials Co. Although hard to see it matching 2021-2022 growth, we are almost certain to hear more of SRM Concrete.

Quikrete Holdings. There is ample growth opportunity in masonry or drainage product segments for the past decade’s largest (> $5 billion) U.S.-based dealmaker. From an outside perspective, privately held Quikrete Holdings enters the new year poised to solidify its concrete brands and logistics model. Like SRM Concrete and USC-Atlantic, Quikrete Holdings might be hard pressed to match in 2023 a deal on the order of pipe and precast leader Forterra Inc., takeover of which the Atlanta giant consummated in March 2022. 

Oldcastle Infrastructure. In 2014, Martin Marietta Materials sold a few Texas properties to Vulcan Materials, clearing the way for the former producer’s Texas Industries takeover. Eight years on, Quikrete Holdings sold Rinker Materials’ Lone Star State plants to Oldcastle Infrastructure, clearing the way for takeover of Texas-entrenched Forterra. The concrete pipe and drainage or utility precast market will benefit in 2023 if Rinker/Forterra and Oldcastle Infrastructure emulate the rivalry that has made Martin Marietta and Vulcan Materials two of the world’s most valuable, publicly traded heavy building materials operators. 

Sika + MBCC, Chryso + GCP. Announcement of deals involving North America’s top concrete admixture brands helped make 2021 a year for the records. This year brings the first full accounting period for the Saint-Gobain Construction Chemicals Unit, encompassing the Chryso Inc. and GCP Applied Technologies concrete admixture portfolios united last fall. Completion of the second and larger piece of the admixture puzzle beckons as the Swiss parent of Sika Corp. addresses final hurdles attending takeover of MBCC Group and its centerpiece brand, Master Builders. 

Portland-limestone cement uptake. More than four-fifths of state departments of transportation now approve portland-limestone cement, or ASTM C595 Type IL, as an alternative to C150 Type I/II powder. The migration times with public and private construction market pressure to tame concrete structures’ embodied carbon. Type IL binder could approach 20 percent or more of overall 2023 U.S. cement consumption.

CMU Checkoff. The U.S. Department of Commerce named charter Concrete Masonry Unit Checkoff Board members in September and helped organize a November kickoff meeting. With Commerce oversight, the 21 directors will hit the ground running this year, mapping research, education, and promotion strategies, while instituting the first checkoff assessment—one penny per 8-in. equivalent block sold, effective April 1—in cement-based materials.

CalPortand v Teamsters 174. As noted here last month, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments challenging a Washington State Supreme Court decision precluding CalPortland Co. from pursuing claims against IBT Local 174. If they rule on the producer’s petition, likely by the end of June, the Justices could send a strong message on just how much protection National Labor Relations Act Section 7 grants adventuresome union organizers. 

Solid legal opinions, sound dealmaking from ambitious operators, market solutions addressing carbon-minded customers’ concerns, and a checkoff program supporting one of the industry’s heritage offerings have the potential to make this year productive and profitable. 

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