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Ash Grove a sure bet for CRH model of “extracting the benefits of scale”

The ink had dried on September’s column, “Oldcastle-style capital reallocation,” by the time CRH Plc announced the boldest move in almost four decades centered on Oldcastle Inc., its North American business: A $3.5 billion acquisition of Kansas-based Ash Grove Cement Co., scheduled to close by year end.

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Oldcastle-style capital reallocation

Dublin-based CRH Plc entered the U.S. nearly 40 years ago, a deal for Idaho’s Amcor Precast seeding a broad, deep portfolio under the Oldcastle Inc. banner. Now designated Americas Products and Americas Materials in the CRH group, the Oldcastle Architectural, Materials and Precast businesses have long since grown to command top or top five U.S. market positions in block & paver, packaged dry mix and raw materials, ready mixed concrete, aggregates, and drainage- or utility-centered precast products and structures.

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Bluegrass, Aggregates USA deals speak to healthy Martin Marietta, Vulcan rivalry

The top two U.S. aggregate producers are pacing each other in building annual production volumes and long-term limestone and granite reserves. Predictable in most any economic cycle, their strategy takes on new dimensions in 2017, as investors see U.S. crushed stone and sand & gravel shipments netting some of the best returns or future earnings prospects in heavy building materials.

Read more: Bluegrass, Aggregates USA deals speak to healthy Martin Marietta, Vulcan rivalry

Graphene rises from nanotech as a positive carbon factor for concrete

Scientists’ work with elements at the atomic level continues to yield promising concrete admixtures whose impact might one day approach that of polycarboxylate superplasticizers. As Concrete Products has observed in reports on Zenyatta Ventures Ltd. and EdenCrete Industries this past year, nanotechnology has led to identification and processing of concrete market-ready graphene, a single atom-thick layer of pure carbon derived from mineral or synthetic graphite.

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Free speech, religious freedom claims stall in parking structure labor dispute

Transition is the order of the day at the National Labor Relations Board, as Trump Administration policies take hold and key appointments beckon. New leadership should support the sound National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) application exhibited in an early-May decision tied to a 2016 cast-in-place parking structure project.

Read more: Free speech, religious freedom claims stall in parking structure labor dispute