COMMUNICATION AND COLLABORATION

2017 Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute Chairman Dan Juntunen looks at how to grow the industry

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Dan Juntunen

Dan Juntunen, president and CEO of Albany, Minn.-based Wells Concrete, has begun his PCI chairman’s term as the Institute pivots to improve the flow of communication with decision makers throughout public and private construction markets.

During the 2017 PCI convention, staged with The Precast Show earlier this year in Cleveland, the Board approved a restructuring; zones were officially eliminated and 13 regional affiliate or chapter designees were appointed to the Board. Producers in the few areas with no PCI chapter will continue to be represented by at-large board positions. Directors approved a strategy under which PCI will disseminate research findings, white papers, and other information to regional affiliates for use in market development. Affiliates will collect input from producers on matters that may be more effectively addressed with a larger volume of constituents—code issues, potential lobbying efforts, technology initiatives, etc.

“[The] platform for the year is centered around growing the industry, building relationships with the regional groups, and PCI facilitating communication with the industry,” Juntunen tells Concrete Products. “The restructuring is meant to grow the industry and times with the way building decision makers are thinking. There is a generational shift toward white papers and case studies in building and construction decisions versus traditional decision processes. PCI will aim to be the think tank and have world-class information and support, but then help regional affiliates build up marketing materials and exchange information and strategies on project wins and losses across the industry.”

Adds PCI President and CEO Bob Risser, P.E., “Now that we have a partnership between PCI and regional groups, we want to maintain our status as a world-class institution. One of the things that came out of the process leading to the regional affiliates was that members want to grow the market. The organization of the Board better aligns us with the market. The only way to grow the market nationally is with victories at the local level. Decision making is done locally, and we have to rely on the success of the local groups to carry the national group.”

This month’s Board meeting, the first directors gathering since Cleveland, will be centered around identifying affiliates’ producer member expectations instead of the state of affairs in the former PCI zones. PCI will be asking members to work with regional directors, report on project victories—ideally based on information from white papers and case studies—and what challenges they face. An October board meeting, timed with the 2017 PCI Committee Days and Membership Conference in Chicago, will be positioned as a productive exchange of information on regional affiliates’ activities and project successes.

ENGAGEMENT

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Wells Concrete enclosed 400 Marquette Ave. South, or 4Marq Apartments, in downtown Minneapolis. The producer delivered 476 horizontally stacked wall panels with acid etch finish, all bearing on the 30-story structure’s cast-in-place floors. The 29- x 11-ft. panels had to be large in scale for economy, but with large punched window openings left little room for reinforcing the 14-in. top and bottom concrete sections, plus 22-in. wide vertical legs and 8-in. thick beveled punch openings. Panel area on the 260-unit project approaches 95,000 square feet. Wells Concrete worked with Marq4’s A/E/C team of UrbanWorks Architecture, Palanisami Associates and Mortenson Construction. PHOTOS: Wells Concrete
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Through his position at Wells Concrete, Juntunen had noticed that there is an inconsistent understanding of what precast can achieve. Although there are those very knowledgeable about precast’s benefits in the design and construction communities, there is also a large segment that has lacked exposure to not only basic features such as color availability, but also finish options, structural integrity benefits and panel configuration. However, through the company’s architect outreach program (see Wells Concrete sidebar, page 33), he discovered that they are open to learning more about precast if given the opportunity.

“We have spent significant marketing dollars on educating the industry on precast,” says Juntunen. “There has always been a misconception out there that architects stick to what they know. At Wells Concrete, we built 10 x 30-ft. structures—eight panels each—at our four plants. They show architectural and structural details. We invited architects, engineers, developers and general contractors to the plants and had hoped for 150 participants this year. Now we have over 400 and expect 1,000 at the plants combined. While it was a significant investment with no known outcome, we are extremely pleased in that we converted a project to total precast early on and thus paid for the effort in a couple months.”

Another issue he saw was that the industry is “heavily fragmented and has had less collaboration on broad industry objectives than some of the building systems we compete against.” To address this issue and the lack of marketplace education, Juntunen and the PCI Board have laid out one broad goal: Collaboration. Realignment of PCI and regional affiliates, he adds, stands to “allow us to combine resources and efficiently attack the market goals we are aligned on while continuing to grow the reputation of PCI.”

“Whether it is getting a voice on building code development, education for engineers, or marketing activities, the other side is producer or member engagement,” explains Juntunen. “We will make a consistent push for members to get more involved in regional groups as well as PCI national activities. Seismic provisions, climate and many other issues affecting precast and prestressed concrete are regional in nature. We hope people will engage at the regional level confident they have a voice at the national level or, they can be directly involved in PCI committees and councils. There is a desire to attract more engagement at both levels and there are opportunities at both depending on the individual’s interests.”

Looking ahead, PCI will launch a completely redesigned website by mid-summer and a new marketing campaign: “How Precast Builds.” One great aspect of the new site will be the ability to equip regional affiliates with micro sites. Groups will be able take advantage of the PCI information technology infrastructure without incurring site development and maintenance costs on their own.

INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIPS

PCI has engaged in partnerships with industry peers to better serve members and boost precast concrete demand. The Institute has recently teamed with the Portland Cement Association to develop a model, based on cement consumption, to track precast/prestressed concrete shipments. Staff members are still in the data collection stage, and hope to have verification of the model later this year. Market conditions suggest that PCI members will see shipments climb in the single digits for this year, on the heels of a 15 percent year-over-year gain in 2016.

One of the Institute’s biggest partnerships is with the National Precast Concrete Association. Last year marked the first time PCI collaborated with NPCA to co-locate The Precast Show with the PCI Convention and National Concrete Bridge Conference. The co-located shows were such a success that the partnership will continue through at least 2021. Additionally, the 2017 show was the first year of crossover from NPCA and PCI educational tracks.

“From the producer standpoint, the collaboration with NPCA and The Precast Show has been good in a lot of ways but also in helping member engagement,” Dan Juntunen affirms. “More members are sending more people to committee meetings and the trade show; this should feed on itself. We are getting more plant operations people attending the show and now need them to participate in committees.”

This isn’t the only PCI-NPCA collaboration. On the heels of the Environmental Product Declaration series—Architectural and Insulated Wall Panels, Structural Precast Concrete Products and Underground Precast Concrete Products—the organizations jointly rolled out in 2016, PCI and NPCA have also teamed up on addressing Occupational Safety and Health Administration silica rule compliance with an exposure control manual specifically for precast plants (see sidebar, page 31). A two-day workshop during PCI’s 2016 Committee Days and Membership Conference in Nashville centered on silica exposure safety measures and the new manual. Along with NPCA and other concrete industry stakeholders, the Institute is closely tracking Construction and General Industry workplace compliance deadlines that OSHA has reviewed under the Trump Administration.



PRECAST/PRESTRESSED CONCRETE INSTITUTE At-A-Glance


Wells Concrete At-A-Glance