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A Decade Defined

To close out this column's first decade, 10 familiar companies, projects and market developments distinguishing concrete production & practice from 2000-2009:

DON MARSH, EDITOR

To close out this column's first decade, 10 familiar companies, projects and market developments distinguishing concrete production & practice from 2000-2009:

Cemex USA

Leading up to its $2.8 billion acquisition of Southdown Inc. in fall 2000, Cemex S.A. was best known this side of the Rio Grande as a limited player in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California cement distribution, plus ready mixed and aggregate production. However, the Southdown deal netted strong Florida and California positions in cement and concrete, a natural platform to stake a greater U.S. claim. A March 2006 takeover of London-based RMC Group, valued at $5.8 billion, catapulted Cemex to the lead role in U.S. ready mixed. Cemex struck again in fall 2006, when it launched a lengthy hostile takeover for Rinker Group. That $15 billion deal positioned the buyer as a top-five player in U.S. ready mixed, block, pipe & precast, and aggregates, and key cement source.

CRH/Oldcastle

Oldcastle Inc. entered the decade already a premier operator in aggregates, asphalt, block & paver, and precast. Since 2000, it has shored up positions across the board, especially in ready mixed. Although CRH Americas has reached $8 billion in annual sales, including shipments outside of heavy building materials, it logged only one $1 billion-plus deal (APAC) this decade.

HeidelbergCement + Hanson Plc

This $16 billion deal mirrored the concurrent Cemex takeover of Rinker, providing the German-based buyer a huge stake in U.S. aggregates and pipe & precast, plus increased presence in ready mixed. Hanson set a tone for the decade with an early-2000, $2.5 billion deal for Pioneer Ltd.

Vulcan Materials + Florida Rock

A $4.6 billion deal negotiated as Cemex-Rinker was unfolding, it brought the buyer deep into the Virginia and Florida ready mixed business and ensured that at least one American-owned company would be represented among the Sunshine State's elite operators.

Holcim Ltd. + Aggregate Industries

Following the Hanson Plc buyout, this $3.4 billion deal marked the end of U.K.-based heavy building materials multinationals. Aggregate Industries' integrated U.S. aggregate, ready mixed and asphalt businesses were strategic to cement-centric Holcim (US) Inc.

Lafarge Group + Blue Circle Industries

Consummated in early 2001, this $3.6 billion transaction brought Lafarge North America a strong Southeast cement and concrete platform, based in Atlanta. Market overlap made way for the sale of Toronto cement and concrete assets to a North American newcomer, Sao Paulo-based Votorantim Cementos, which has since extended its Great Lakes presence and built an integrated cement and ready mixed business in Florida.

Trump International Hotel & Tower

(Prairie Material Sales, James McHugh Construction, Skidmore Owings & Merrill). With a 2005-10 construction schedule, the 1,170-ft. Chicago project sets a new height record for a North American reinforced concrete building. In addition to abundant use of conventional slump high performance mixes (up to 16,000-psi design strength), the contractor and engineer successfully tested HPC self-consolidating mixes for columns, outrigger beams and the tower core's 200- _ 66- _ 10-ft. mat foundation Û a record SCC placement.

Interstate 35W Replacement Bridge

(Cemstone Products, Figg Engineers, Manson Flatiron J.V.) Designed and built November 2007-September 2008, this $235 million project quells any doubts federal or state transportation agencies have on the fast-track potential of precast or cast-in-place segmental concrete for long-span structures (note AASHTO/Chamber of Commerce award, page 5).

Self-consolidating mixes

Precast and precast/prestressed producers, along with cast-in-place concrete practitioners, continue to discover productivity gains and improved plant or site safety factors, thanks to third-generation superplasticizer-dosed mixes requiring little or no vibration.

2005 Peak-2009 Valley

The housing bubble and 2008 financial crisis spurred an unprecedented building and construction cycle the second half of this decade Û underscored by U.S. cement consumption dropping from 125 million metric tons to a projected 71 million metric tons (note Forecast 2010, page 15).