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Cultivating Resources

The new chairman of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) aims to reconnect existing members to the association, while bringing new ones to

TOM KUENNEN

The new chairman of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) aims to reconnect existing members to the association, while bringing new ones to the fold. I want to reintroduce members, as well as the construction industry in general, to the value that PCI offers and to reinforce the benefits of membership and participation, affirms 2007 PCI Chairman Robert Konoske, who is vice president and general manager of Perris, Calif.-based Coreslab Structures (L.A.) Inc.

This is our organization, driven by volunteers, Konoske tells Concrete Products. It will be what we make of it. And, when I see PCI's volunteer base, I am amazed that so many people give so freely and generously of their time to better the industry, even in areas that will never touch them personally. I feel that we need to reintroduce PCI to its constituents, so they understand exactly what the institute's staff and committees are doing on their behalf. At the same time, we can communicate to a broader audience, to those who aren't involved in PCI, enabling them to understand what the organization means to this industry.

Konoske wants to ensure that members and nonmembers alike are apprised of the institute's research and development, publications, and educational initiatives. I have an opportunity to reach out to our membership six times this year through our bimonthly magazine, PCI Journal, he emphasizes, and I will identify different aspects of membership and drive home these points.

In addition to informing members of PCI resources they might be overlooking, Konoske wants to highlight service opportunities with the institute. We have a tremendous volunteer base now, and I want to engage even more people as volunteers, he asserts. I want companies that may not have been much involved in PCI, belonging only because they need to be certified, to understand the depth and breadth of this organization and to become more involved, so it becomes their institution. It's not just for those who happen to be working on committees or on the board Û it needs to be all of ours. If I can reach a handful of people, they may have something to bring to the table that will drive our industry to the next level.

For example, much of the research that appears in PCI Journal has been conducted at the behest of individual companies proposing a topic for study. That R&D eventually benefits everyone in the future, Konoske observes. The information is to everyone's benefit.

INSTITUTE = MEMBERSHIP

PCI, too, benefits from increased participation among its members. The institute is us, Konoske says. If we all can be more involved, coming at problems from different angles, new solutions are advanced, and the industry moves forward. It's all about involvement.

That being said, PCI presently is not suffering due to a lack of member participation. We now have a very high level of activity, in fact, to the degree that during our winter board meeting, the room was not big enough to hold all of our assembled technical and marketing people, Konoske reports. To be part of that gathering was rewarding and tremendously satisfying. So, why should we get more people involved? There are many, many other aspects to our work Û like education, for example Û that can use people who are interested in a particular area. Their involvement and expertise will also move our industry forward.

NEW MARKETING JOURNAL

Marketing, a core PCI mission, was greatly enhanced this January by the launch of a new magazine, Aspire, whose focus is concrete bridges as well as a range of bridge topics. For a number of years, our bridge producer members thought their message was not being communicated as effectively as it could be, Konoske explains. Although launching a magazine is not inexpensive and entails significant risk, we came together to create a publication that has the broad support of both the board and the bridge producers. It's an excellent magazine, distinct from Ascent and the PCI Journal insofar as it's not locked into the precast message. It's truly a bridge magazine that will tackle cast-in-place as well as precast bridges.

While that would seem to be moving away from PCI's core mission, Konoske notes that it had to be done to gain credibility among the target audience. We're not afraid to do that, he tells Concrete Products. We have many other associations involved, and we know it will have broader appeal, garnering respect and support from the state DOTs and the federal DOT, if it is not viewed just as a precast publication, but as a true bridge magazine. And, when all the stories are told, we are confident that precast will shine.

DIAPHRAGM TESTS LOOM

This year, a research theme of primary interest at PCI Û Design Procedure for Precast Concrete Diaphragm System for High Seismic Zones Û will entail testing of precast diaphragms under earthquake conditions. To examine the way a diaphragm works in conjunction with precast products, the single most significant event will be a diaphragm test conducted at the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center at the University of California-San Diego, Konoske reports. Various ways to connect products in both pretopped and topped diaphragms will be tested through simulation of seismic tremors.

As part of an extensive analytical research program centered at the University of Arizona, full-scale static tests on reinforcing details and precast connections at Lehigh University will be combined with a shake-table testing program on a scaled structural model at UCSD's Englekirk Center. It's the largest facility that can actually replicate an earthquake as though it is taking place, Konoske asserts. Not to be confused with PRESS tests done previously, he adds, The Englekirk facility is of much greater size and greater capacity for real-time tests, which should start in September.

It's a major venture, supported by PCI and the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Manufacturers Association of California, as well as the Pankow Foundation, founded by Charles Pankow, a highly respected Southern California builder, Konoske emphasizes. An additional sponsor is the National Science Foundation.

GETTING ÎGREENÌ

Like other national associations in the concrete industry, PCI has joined the green revolution. At its 52nd annual convention last October, keynote speaker William McDonough, FAIA, addressed The Greening of the Architectural Profession and its Implications for Precast Concrete.

On an upward swing early this year, PCI announced the hiring of three new staff to boost service to members and the industry at large. Joining the institute as directors are Dean Frank, P.E., Quality Programs; Michael Potts, Education; and, Brian Miller, Engineering and Technology.

Frank assumes staff responsibility for overseeing the work of several PCI committees, including Quality Assurance, Plant Certification, and Field Certification. Prior to joining PCI, he served as director of Technical Services and Industry Standards at the National Precast Concrete Association (NPCA). His previous experience also includes a stint with Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., where he performed building material investigations and failure analyses, construction and materials evaluations, roofing, and waterproofing consulting. In addition, Frank served as an auditor for NPCA and the American Concrete Pipe Association plant certification programs.

Assuming staff responsibility for a variety of educational initiatives, Michael Potts will be involved with several PCI programs as he works closely with PCI Student Education and Continuing Education committees. He will participate in an effort to provide an online learning program through the Institute, as well as coordinate development of a system of surveys among various committees.

Brian Miller will oversee the activities of various committees dealing with a wide range of precast and prestressed concrete products. Prior to joining PCI's staff, Miller served at NPCA in Technical Services. In that capacity, he designed and implemented programs to promote the use of quality precast concrete products, while acting as liaison to 13 committees and subcommittees. Among his other accomplishments, Miller was instrumental in NPCA's certification as an AIA continuing education provider.

CORESLAB STRUCTURES (L.A.) INC.

AT-A-GLANCE

While Coreslab Structures (L.A.) Inc., located in Riverside County, Calif., has been part of the Coreslab group since 1995, the producer has a distinguished history that predates its acquisition. In 1955, the company was founded as Rockwin Corp. An early West Coast prestressed concrete producer, it accrued a long history of innovation, quality and customer service. In the last half-century, the company has shipped products for over 1,650 projects throughout southern California, southern Nevada, and Arizona.

The company is credited with the earliest use of double tees in a parking garage. That structure, built in 1960 for the Beverly Hilton Hotel, remains in service. The project was recognized as one of the 50 wonders of the precast industry by PCI on the event of its 50th anniversary in 2004.

Fast forward 40 years and Coreslab Structures (L.A.) Inc. is the precast supplier for one of the largest precast, prestressed projects ever to hit the West Coast: the Hollywood and Highland Complex in Hollywood, Calif.

Coreslab is one of the largest precast/prestressed outfits in the nation, with 19 factories across the U.S. and Canada, notes Coreslab Structures Vice President and General Manager Robert Konoske, who is 2007 PCI chairman. Each of the Coreslab companies is independent, but with common ownership, he adds.

Coreslab Structures (L.A.) Inc. produces a full line of both structural and architectural products, Konoske asserts, and its management team has been with the company for 30-plus years. It employs more than 300 persons at the Perris, Calif., location.

We produce variety, Konoske emphasizes. We're not locked into one segment of the market, and that helps us get through the cycles.

PRECAST/PRESTRESSED CONCRETE INSTITUTE

At-A-Glance

CHAIRMAN

2007

ROBERT H. KONOSKE
V.P. and General Manager
Coreslab Structures
Perris, California

IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN (2006)

ROBERT MCCORMACK
Executive Vice President
The Spancrete Group, Inc.
Waukesha, Wisconsin

INCOMING CHAIRMAN (2008)

WILLIAM SIMMONS III
Chief Executive Officer
Shockey Management Co.
Winchester, Virginia

The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) maintains an extensive staff of technical and marketing professionals to fulfill its mission of promoting greater use of precast and prestressed concrete. International in scope and influence, the organization aims to improve the quality, economy, and innovation of the construction industry by establishing new levels of design and engineering in precast applications.

PCI membership exceeds 2,000, including 230 certified producers operating 320 plants, along with 100-plus suppliers. With more than 1,000 professional members (engineers, architects, and academicians), PCI continues to provide a dynamic force in the industry's steady growth, as it has since the group's 1954 inception.

To ensure quality to precast customers, producer members are obliged to maintain PCI Plant Certification. Now an industry standard, this certification program has been joined by a Qualified Erector Program. PCI's Plant Certification Program is open to both members and nonmembers.

The bimonthly PCI Journal is a peer-reviewed magazine (note Final Form, page 56) that discusses technical aspects of precast and prestressed concrete; PCI's promotional publication, Ascent, targets material and product specifiers including architects, structural engineers, and building owners. In January 2007, PCI launched Aspire, a quarterly devoted to concrete bridge design. Further expanding communication, the institute's web site, www.pci.org, was completely revised in 2006.

James Toscas, P.E., is PCI president. Contact the institute at 209 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60606; 312/786-0300; 312/786-0353; e-mail: info@pci.org; www.pci.org