Concrete Products

APR 2012

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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CHAIRMAN'S REPORT BY STEVEN PROKOPY EMERGING SUCCESS Geneva Pipe Company's Vince Bussio Chairs American Concrete Pipe Association At a time when all arenas of the building industry are working with bare bones staff and resources to keep their collective heads above water because of the lagging econ- omy, newly elected American Concrete Pipe Association Chairman Vince Bussio of Geneva Pipe Company credits the group's president, Matt Childs, and his team with managing the budget so effectively that membership numbers are growing and a dues increase was recently passed. "We had a budget freeze, but we were able to grow the staff size over the last couple of years without increasing dues," says Bussio. "One of the things I'm very proud of is that the majority of the dues go toward programs. A lot of associations get top heavy, so dues go to salaries, but with ACPA, most goes to programs for members. We've had a nice-sized rainy-day fund that we haven't had to tap into yet. And yes, we've had a few people drop out of the as- sociation, but we're actually gaining mem- bership right now, which is great. It's not really a bleak picture. We recently passed a dues increase for 2012 at our annual meet- ing in New Orleans, which had overwhelm- ing support, and all that money will continue to go into programs. "We're actually hiring regional engineers to work in geographic areas; the idea is to continue to grow that, basically putting more boots on the ground. The program is being well received by the membership, and they're asking for more. ACPA has 11 engi- neers on staff; they work with the local ACPA membership to meet with state DOTs to promote the benefits of concrete pipe." Despite this silver lining on the nation's cloudy economic status, Bussio says his members are eager for a sizable upswing to occur. "We believe we've bottomed out, and we think this year will continue to grow and develop," he explains. "I still think we're 18 months away and that the reces- sion will continue to linger. It's not going to come back as strong or as fast as we would like, but it is coming back. All mar- kets have had to adjust, and we've all had to become much leaner and more efficient. I think everyone has had to do more with less, and these practices will make us stronger and more profitable when the re- cession goes away. "No one has had to deal with this severe of a recession since the Great Depression, 32 | APRIL 2012 Vince Bussio forward. We've had a few rough years, but we're starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel, and it's going to be a slow road. That's true with Geneva and around the country. I think we're going to see more consolidation and more market rationale taking place." Bussio said that when more funds become available, he expects ACPA would like to have more targeted to research and devel- opment, a practice that is taking shape currently with early-stage testing of con- crete pipe manufactured with strength-en- hancing steel fibers embedded in it, rather than welded wire mesh. "We've got some full-scale models made, so we're continuing with the R&D," he says. "This is a good ex- ample of our suppliers working with the in- dustry. This is driven by outside funding in collaboration with the industry trying to find ways to improve the product. If it can make our product less expensive and more user friendly, then we'll look at it. We've so this is all new territory for pipe man- agers and the industry. I don't think it's been rocked this hard ever. We've all had to learn to adjust, and it's been hard. Every concrete pipe producer has been bloodied by this, like all construction industries. With that, it forces you to dig down and focus on core principles and basic business; I think that's what has happened to our in- dustry. I believe we are through the worst part of the recession, and that things will continue to creep upward from this point seen some preliminary results, and it's in- teresting but we don't have a timetable in terms of creating specifications for steel fibers. It's still too early to talk about that. "That's one of my goals, continuous im- provement. We have to improve our weak- ness, and we're going after them to better meet the needs of our engineering commu- nity. We've had great success over the last 100 years, and in order for us to continue, we have to keep improving our products." Bussio also points to this year's in- creased attendance at The Precast Show, which took place March 1-3 in Orlando, Fla., as a sign that things were looking up for the industry. "We really appreciate our working relationship with the National Precast Concrete Association [co-sponsor of the event]; that's working well for both of us," he says. "The next show will be in Indianapolis, January 11-13, and I think attendance will be up again next year as a direct reflection of the economy." NEW MARKET RUNOFF The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new stormwater rule that dictates that stormwater be kept separate from industrial runoff and sewer water should provide drainage product opportunities for ACPA members, according to Bussio, who adds, "The mandate to separate stormwater from sewer water will certainly have an impact on us and create some storm drain oppor- tunities for our members. Whether people put in pipe or some kind of underground retention, that business will come to us in theory. That does help us." Bussio also points to monolithic box cul- verts as another growing market for pipe makers. Uses for these four-sided precast concrete box culverts include detention; tunnels (for conveyors, utilities, access tunnels, escape tunnels); short-span bridges (over highways, waterways, rail- ways, golf courses); and, storm drains to convey stormwater, sewage or industrial waste. Typically, four-sided monolithically poured box culverts are cast all as one piece at the plant and shipped directly to the job site for immediate installation. "It's basi- cally a big square pipe," he says. "That is an opportunity that we are excited about. The product allows the engineers to convey larger volumes of water without having to dig too deep into the ground. What hap- WWW.CONCRETEPRODUCTS.COM

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