Winning Work

A visit with 2019 American Concrete Pipe Association Chairman Jeffery Hite
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Jeffery Hite

Much like his six-year U.S. Marine Corps tour of duty, whose success has been matched in construction and Rinker Materials roles over nearly 30 years since, Jeffery Hite approaches his term as 2019 American Concrete Pipe Association chairman with a mission of bringing out the best in peers, customers and allied interests. The theme for 2019 is straightforward: Work Together. Win.

He entered the concrete pipe industry in 2002 after more than a decade building runways on remote islands; constructing power lines through major cities, country towns and swamps; plus, earning respect and credibility among federal and state specifying agencies for all matters relating to drainage infrastructure. The heavy/civil construction background, along with skills and discipline typical of a U.S. Marine Captain, led to his current role at Rinker Materials. As Director, Technical Promotions he manages eight engineers whose objective is to favorably position concrete pipe and box products among department of transportation, municipal, and environmental agency professionals in 20 states.

Hite’s day-to-day duties with a leading ACPA producer member carry easily to the chairmanship role. On the heels of a well subscribed 2019 Pipe School early in the calendar, followed by ACPA board commitments from the annual convention this spring, he intends to assist directors, members and staff with a) building on the association’s role as “a valued resource for departments of transportation, municipalities, consulting engineers, and contractors;” b) advancing sound drainage design and “engineer’s choice,” whereby drainage system designers specify the best methods and materials for site or project conditions, free of political or other influences; and, c) promoting the resilience of concrete pipe and box structures, along with their ability to perform as designed structurally, hydraulically, and from a durability vantage point—while also demonstrating integrity in a flood, fire, hurricane or earthquake.

“We have a product supported by specific language in the federal highway FAST Act and Disaster Relief & Recovery Act,” he observes. “Concrete pipe is gaining favor at federal, state and local levels as the choice for constructing resilient infrastructure designed to resist exposure to natural or manmade disasters. Fire in the vicinity of concrete pipe generally does not affect the two fundamental requirements of a gravity drainage or collection system: structural strength and hydraulic (flow) capacity.”

Member, committee and staff action on resilience measures, engineer’s choice principals, and keeping drainage market stakeholders apprised of concrete pipe and box product value, Hite notes, will enable ACPA to capitalize on current business conditions.

PIPE SCHOOL/PIPE SHOW

This year brought further validation of the ACPA Pipe School/Pipe Show format and its early-January scheduling. Staged in Arlington, Texas, near ACPA headquarters, the 2019 event saw year-over-year attendance gains and stepped up participation from transportation officials. Feedback confirmed a program loaded with content and productive exchanges between producers, customers and suppliers in Pipe School and Pipe Show activities.

School presenters covered both engineering and inspection best practices, along with insights on advocating for drainage infrastructure funding and fostering data-based decision making. A Transportation track joined existing Sales and Technical Marketing, Quality, Production, and Plant Management programs on the Pipe School agenda, and offered a unique opportunity for agency officials at every level to collaborate.

“‘Why add Transportation?’ some asked. In recent Pipe Schools, our Education Committee has seen an increase in participation among departments of transportation and public works agencies,” Hite explains. “We knew it was time to offer a forum dedicated to meeting these professionals’ unique needs. In its introductory year, the Transportation track was a great success and brought together some of the best and brightest minds across the country. It turned out to be a gathering house of ideas and insight sharing, where officials spoke formally and informally about innovative ways of addressing drainage engineering, procurement and construction issues they face.”

He credits Rinker Materials colleague Derek Light with the idea for the program, and the 2018–2019 ACPA Education Committee Chair Dan Sparr (Hancock Concrete Products, Minnesota) for its delivery. The inaugural Transportation track offered perspectives from Oklahoma Turnpike Authority representatives covering bridge inspection techniques, including precast box culvert structures, along with bigger picture points: How to communicate issues of national significance relative to bridge assets; re-establishing proper condition and appraisal rating practices; and, organizing inspectors’ professional obligations.

Alabama and Arkansas Departments of Transportation representatives shared experiences informing data-based decisions, examining how a) maintenance condition assessment enables public agencies to communicate funding requirements to state decision makers in a facts-supported message; and, b) maintenance personnel conducting roadway drainage assessments during their daily travels become an asset multiplier. A peer discussed Delaware DOT’s approach to categorizing drainage structure failure types and how to tackle problems that hundreds of such structures present.

The Transportation track will return to the 2020 Pipe School, running concurrent with the Pipe Show, January 6-9 in San Marcos, Texas. Host venue, Texas State University, is home to a four-year Concrete Industry Management degree program and, with an undergraduate and graduate enrollment of 40,000, is the Lone Star State’s fifth largest university. ACPA hopes to build on this year’s Pipe School/Pipe Show success as measured by participation and reach: 400 attendees from producer and associate member companies, plus representatives from 20 state DOT and additional local agency professionals.

A STRONG WEEK

Jeffery Hite and his Rinker Materials colleagues, along with their ACPA member counterparts throughout the U.S. and Canada, are gearing up for Concrete Pipe Week, one of the most widely embraced promotion and awareness efforts across cement-based products. The association hopes 2019 Concrete Pipe Week, August 18-24, will continue the momentum of a robust 2018 showing. Among highlights from last year: 31 governors declared or proclaimed “Concrete Pipe Week” or “Day” for their states, and acknowledged concrete pipe producers and their employees’ contribution to the economy, sound infrastructure and public health. ACPA members also plan to continue plant tour and product demonstration schedules.

“Concrete Pipe Week is an opportunity to inform federal, state and local elected officials about product quality, performance and resilience as they relate to storm and sanitary sewer infrastructure, culverts and small precast bridges,” says Hite. “Governor declarations or proclamations stress the positive impact producers, their team members and customers have on states and communities. Concrete Pipe Week is also a way of recognizing the contributions of ACPA’s associate members—steel, form and casting producers; sand, rock and cement producers; trucking and contractor interests; and, all others associated with buried infrastructure and the products it requires.”

“Our industry has been very successful with the event, and I intend to help keep it on the growth curve,” affirms Hite, underscoring last year’s Concrete Pipe Week success by citing its two most prominent participants: Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), who toured a plant of key ACPA member Forterra Inc., and former Colorado Governor—now 2020 Democratic presidential primary contender—John Hicklenlooper, who proclaimed his state’s Concrete Pipe Day.

He likewise plans to continue the efforts of 2018 ACPA Chairman Mark Omelaniec (Langley Group, British Columbia) by supporting the Infrastructure Training Academy and ACPA All Stars. The former is geared to teaching member company technical staff how to serve as facilitators or instructors tasked with marketing concrete pipe and precast box culverts. Paralleling other associations’ “young leaders” programs, the All Stars initiative involves coaches in weekly conference calls with up and coming production, engineering and technical sales team members. ACPA convened the Infrastructure Training Academy and All Stars participants this summer in Austin, Texas.

Acknowledging rapid workforce change and the high priority of driving the message on concrete pipe and box product quality and performance, Hite concludes, “We are working to gain engagement of younger generations, both within the association and in the specifying community. They are the future of our business.”


RINKER MATERIALS At-A-Glance
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HOUSTON PLANT
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STOCKBRIDGE, GA. PLANT
Houston-based Rinker Materials became part of the Quikrete Companies in 2017 and serves public and private drainage construction markets with precast concrete pipe and products. The producer has over 30 facilities in the United States. In addition to conventional concrete pipe and box structures, Rinker Materials designs, engineers and fabricates stormwater detention and retention systems; reinforced concrete jacking pipe and boxes; plus, specialty fittings and components. — www.rinkerpipe.com
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HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS, FLOOD CONTROL

AMERICAN CONCRETE PIPE ASSOCIATION At-A-Glance
2018 CHAIRMAN
 
IMMEDIATE PAST-CHAIRMAN
Jeffery Hite   Mark Omelaniec
Director, Technical Promotions   President
Rinker Materials   Langley Concrete Group
Houston, Texas   Chilliwack, British Columbia

 

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PHOTOS: Rinker Materials