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Utility structures help precast shipments outpace overall 2013 construction market

Sources: National Precast Concrete Association, Carmel, Ind.; CP staff

Reflecting input from more than 60 producers operating 200-plus plants, the Precast Industry Benchmarking Survey indicates 2013 shipments increased 5.2 percent over the prior year, to $16.2 billion—encompassing an estimated 33 million yd. of concrete output and 11 million tons’ cement consumption.

NPCA retains an outside research firm to conduct the survey and consolidate shipment and operating data in the annual Benchmarking Report. The new edition finds three products showing significant volume increases last year over 2012: 1) utility buildings grew by 50 percent, to $526 million in sales and 2.8 percent of the total market; 2) utility vaults, the largest single category by dollar volume, saw a 5 percent gain, to $2.7 billion or 14.4 percent of the market; and, 3) septic tanks and grease interceptors registered a combined 8 percent increase, totaling $924 million in sales.

The 2013 NPCA Benchmarking Survey evidences highway and infrastructure funding shortfalls, underscored by a 13 percent drop in box culvert and three-sided structure shipments, combining for $688 million in sales, and a 5 percent retreat in manhole demand, equating to $1.4 billion. “Highway work has been unstable,” affirms NPCA President Ty Gable. “However, this is a very diverse industry, and the wide range of products has helped us achieve some moderate growth. That upward trend should continue through 2014, and we’re seeing positive signs for 2015 as well.”

The association cites last year’s emergence of architectural wall panels, up 8 percent over the prior year, and accounting for $752 million in sales, and precast concrete pavement systems, which had not been individually tracked in past surveys but finished 2013 at an estimated $37 million in sales—primarily for rapid road repair applications.

Other sections of the 145-page Benchmarking Report include a compilation and analysis of plant sales, operations data, plus compensation tracked by position and benefits. A pdf of the report is available to NPCA members for $250 ($300 for nonmembers).