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Association Leaders Discuss Pressing Issues

The CEOs of the five leading transportation construction materials trade associations met by conference call yesterday to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing the surface transportation construction industry.

Jerry Voigt of ACPA; Audrey Copeland of NAPA; Mike Philips of NRMCA; Mike Johnson of NSSGA; and Mike Ireland of PCA discussed key priorities, with COVID-19 responses and economic impacts being the focal points. 

The CEOs expressed some optimism regarding relief funding. This optimism is based, in part, on an AASHTO request to Congressional leaders to enact a six-year, $800+ billion surface transportation reauthorization bill to “finally put us on the path to eliminate [the] longstanding investment backlog by the end of this decade while meeting arising asset condition and performance needs to support and sustain our multiyear economic recovery and growth.” AASHTO also presented an almost $50 billion “backstop” funding request to replace lost state revenues and for use to avoid disruptions in transportation systems.

On the subject of relief funding for surface transportation construction, the discussion centered on ensuring construction remains an “essential” activity and continuing this advocacy effort with state governors. A second key point is to advocate for transportation construction as an important element of economic recovery. The CEOs discussed key points in the area of stimulus, including:

  • Appropriate and respectful timing of advocacy efforts in relation to the many other pressing issues of the pandemic.
  • Securing the requisite federal funding to jump start the economy and address critical needs.
  • Removing the state match for a period of time to address lost state gas tax revenue and other tax revenue that supports state transportation funding.
  • Allowing states more flexibility to out-source design and have fewer permitting hurdles for highway projects so they can push out jobs and get people to work.
  • Safety for the men, women and companies working in the field and at manufacturing plants. “With regard to roadway paving, we need our state and federal partners to understand we are going to have added costs associated with ‘social distancing’ while continuing to deliver our work, Jerry says. 

The associations each have been working to address health & human safety issues for the industry and their respective organizations. This involves factoring the challenges contractors, cement and ready mixed concrete producers, mining companies and other members are facing with ensuring the safety and health of their employees in the workplace.

The CEOs also agreed that during the pandemic crisis and associated economic impact period, the industry should set aside certain lobbying efforts at both the national and local level.

The CEOs agreed to continue discussions, with the next conference call set for two weeks. 

PCA: Modest Cement Consumption Ahead

PCA Market Intelligence expects cement consumption will grow by 1.7 percent in 2020, according to PCA Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Ed Sullivan, who predicts cement consumption will be at moderate growth levels through this year and into 2022. 

The potential for stronger than expected construction in residential construction could add one full percentage point to this outlook, Sullivan says.

“The economy rests on two pillars, consumer spending and labor markets,” according to Sullivan during PCA’s press briefing at World of Concrete. “As long as the economy continues to grow and create jobs, the economy will remain on solid ground and continue to support cyclical portions of the cement market. But the economic recovery is aging and losing its zip. Economic growth will gradually slow, along with construction activity and cement consumption growth rates.”

The aging of the recovery makes the economy, and cement consumption, more vulnerable to potential disruptions. Economic challenges include slower global economic growth, declining consumer sentiment, trade issues, and the threat of coronavirus fully hitting the United States, he says.  

Photo depicts sustainable building design & construction. Photo source: PCA website.

Campaign Builds Awareness of Cement, Concrete Benefits

PCA las week announced its Shaped by Concrete, a new educational campaign to increase awareness of the sustainability, resiliency and durability of concrete made with cement.

The campaign will feature stories based on these themes, exploring how these construction materials shape the world around us to make our communities, cities and country better. In the site’s news section, a number of stories provide interesting, informative stories about how cement and concrete are contributing positively to the world around us.

There has never been a more important time to explain how and why concrete became – and continues to be – the material of choice for virtually every type of construction through its positive impacts on society, PCA says. This campaign is particularly timely and relevant, given the impacts from climate change, growing populations and accelerating urbanization creating demand for safe, affordable housing.

“As we prepare for the challenges future generations face, concrete will be even more critical to building a sustainable world for tomorrow,” says Mike Ireland, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association. “Concrete is the most durable, resilient, available and affordable material in the built environment, supporting sustainable economic, social and environmental development priorities, and the Shaped by Concrete campaign is how we’ll tell that story to stakeholders and partners.”

Shaped by Concrete will focus on key themes often overlooked and underrepresented in conversations and media coverage of cement and concrete, including their ability to meet sustainable development goals, decrease costs from natural disasters, and assist with key societal challenges, such as our nation’s housing crisis.

“We are excited to share bold, compelling stories of how we can make the world a better place, shaped by concrete,” Ireland says. For more information on cement and concrete, and to explore the Shaped by Concrete campaign, visit www.shapedbyconcrete.com.

Photo depicts a view of the Shaped by Concrete website. The site features a growing collection of stories, infographics and other interesting, informative (and often under-reported) details about cement and concrete.

Associations Have Strong Presence at World of Concrete

World of Concrete 2020 began in Las Vegas this week, and for the second year in a row, ACPA, PCA and IGGA are exhibiting together.

By doing so, the associations are creating a large and impactful presence at the concrete pavement community’s annual trade show and educational & training forum.

Building on the success of 2019’s show, the three associations’ restyled exhibit creates a stronger impact and an inviting exhibit space designed to optimize interaction with World of Concrete visitors.

Another popular attraction is a trivia contest, which is creating both a strong draw into the exhibit space and an opportunity to share with show attendees a range of informative, interesting information about the many features and benefits of concrete and cement-based products and solutions. Participants have an opportunity to win a daily drawing and a grand prize drawing, which is building even more interest and participation. The associations even added some music trivia questions, which is adding some entertainment and fun to the educational program.

The show runs through Friday. Look for both C4326 in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
ACPA, IGGA and PCA are among the 18 association co-sponsors of the annual international event dedicated to the commercial concrete and masonry construction industries.

Barco Investment Group Acquires CTLGroup

Barco Investment Group has acquired Construction Technology Laboratories, Inc. (dba CTLGroup), formerly a PCA subsidiary. Barco also acquired the PCA campus in Skokie, according to a news release from CTLGroup.

“We are excited about the purchase of CTLGroup and the historic PCA Campus,” says Cary Cohrs, Chairman of Barco Investment Group. “Through the many talented people working at CTLGroup, we expect the company will experience strong growth and further build upon its strong reputation as an industry leader.”

“PCA and CTLGroup have been an important part of the Skokie, Illinois landscape since 1968,” says Mike Ireland, PCA President & CEO. “PCA’s offices in Skokie and Washington, DC, will continue to represent America’s cement industry, while CTLGroup will get a chance to thrive under new ownership. We’re excited about the future of both organizations.”

PCA and CTLGroup staff will continue to work at the Skokie campus in addition to offices in the Washington, DC-metro area. In addition to Illinois and DC, the CTLGroup also serves clients from Texas, Florida, and Dawlat Qatar. CTLGroup began as the research and development arm of PCA in 1987 and became a PCA subsidiary in 1986, operating as an independent engineering, research and laboratory consulting firm.

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