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Briefs March 2011


Knife River Corp. employees continued their strong safety commitment, marking another year of reduced injury and illness rates. In the past 11 years, Bismark, N.D.-based Knife River has reduced its injury and illness rates by 83 percent. In 2010, Knife River’s overall recordable-incident rate was 2.19, down 19 percent from 2009 and 50 percent lower than the national industry average. The lost-time-accident rate for 2010 was 0.41, which is 14 percent lower than 2009 and 75 percent below industry average.

“This is a remarkable achievement that every employee can take pride in,” said Knife River Safety Director Zach Knoop. “Safety is a fundamental value of our organization, and we know the positive effect it has on business performance. It is more than compliance, it is about fostering a culture of safety, and that is what we are working hard to achieve.”

In 2010, Knife River increased its safety training efforts, rolling out company-wide safe driving training and electrical safety education, plus individual operations haveemployee-driven safety teams addressing areas of concern.

“I commend every employee at Knife River for making safety the top priority each work day,” said Knife River’s president and CEO Bill Schneider. “In an industry that can pose many safety hazards, our employees have worked hard to minimize risks and came together as a team to meet safety goals.”

Vulcan Materials Co., Western Division, announced that it has been recognized with the Joe DiShanni Business of the Year Award by the Irwindale (Calif.) Chamber of Commerce. The recipient is chosen annually based on excellence in business, service to the Chamber and community, initiative and creativity. Vulcan previously received this honor in 2007.

"We want to thank Vulcan for their continuous support of Irwindale and its residents," said Lisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Irwindale Chamber of Commerce. "Vulcan genuinely responds to the needs of the community because they are a part of the community."
Vulcan provides numerous contributions to the Irwindale community, benefiting the Irwindale Public Library Foundation, Irwindale Educational Foundation, Merwin Elementary School and Police Officer's Association. The company also provides regular access to Fish Canyon for residents and visitors throughout the year.

Vulcan operates multiple sites in the City of Irwindale, including the Reliance and Durbin facilities. "We are honored to once again be the recipient of the Irwindale Chamber's highest business award," said Atisthan Roach, community outreach manager for Vulcan and Irwindale Chamber of Commerce board member. "This recognition speaks to our strong commitment to being good neighbors and good corporate citizens within the Irwindale community."


National Concrete Masonry Association has launched an online Career Center ( for members and other industry affiliates and professionals. The online resource is designed to connect employers with the largest, most qualified audience of concrete masonry professionals and job seekers with the best opportunities to keep them involved in our industry. Employers gain easy online management of job postings, access to a searchable resume database, competitive pricing, and automatic e-mail notification when new resumes match your criteria. Job seekers have the opportunity to post resumes for free and search available job opportunities. Members receive a discounted rate for posting jobs, and can take advantage of easy access, online payment and results tracking.

Separately, NCMA has announced newly elected Associate Member Division board elections: Chairman Jeff Speck, Big River Industries; Vice Chair Dean Jurik, Dancing Bear; and Secretary Kevin Curtis, Besser Company. AMD board representatives elected to the NCMA board of directors, include Marshall Brown, ACM Chemistries, elected for a four-year term, and Dave Sharp, Columbia Machine, three-year term. Also, AMD board representatives voted to the NCMA executive committee are Dave Sharp, Columbia Machine, two-year term AMD board, and Billy Wauhop, Billy Wauhop and Associates, LLP, two-year term.

In addition, NCMA Market Development Manager Harry Junk has been elected 2011 Chair of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Building Systems Councils (BSC). A longtime volunteer leader for the association, Junk has served on committees for NAHB’s Concrete Home Building Council, the Building Systems Councils, and the National Commercial Builders Council. He serves on the NAHB Education Committee, and has served as chairman of the Environmental Council of Concrete Organizations and worked on Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation issues through various committees.
Junk will focus this year on increasing the presence of the BSC in the marketplace and to find new ways to reach builders to show them how building systems can help provide building solutions.


Buzzi Unicem USA, Bethlehem, Pa., has completed the acquisition it began in December of a 30,000-ton cement storage dome and distribution terminal in Joliet, Ill., from Ozinga Bros. This is the latest addition to the company's extensive Mississippi River-based terminal network. According to Buzzi Unicem, the Joliet terminal has not shipped product for more than two years, after a maintenance breakdown forced its closure. Ozinga did repair the facility, but never reopened it due to declining demand.

Jointly owned by Wiesbaden, Germany-based Dyckerhoff and Italy's Buzzi Unicem S.p.A., Buzzi Unicem USA has immediately begun shipping Type-I/II low-alkali cement by barge from its newly expanded, 2.4 million-ton/year-capacity Selma Plant in Festus, Mo. Located along the Des Plaines River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago, the Joliet terminal allows the company to significantly expand distribution in Illinois. Buzzi Unicem plans to install an automated self-service kiosk for 24-hour, 7-day/week loading by early spring 2011. The facility will be managed by Scott Richardson, a 10-year Buzzi Unicem veteran who last managed the company's terminal in Natchez, Miss.

"Make Sure it's True Fibermesh" is the message leading the Propex Operating Co. launch of a new brand initiative for the cornerstone product line, Fibermesh. As the experts in fibers for concrete reinforcement, company officials contend, Propex revolutionized the industry a quarter century ago with the Fibermesh introduction. As an alternative to traditional wire mesh and light rebar, the officials add, the brand created the synthetic fiber category and aligned Propex with ready mixed concrete producers and their contractor customers.

"After 25 years of market domination, True Fibermesh is still the standard for synthetic fibers," says Jonathan Speaks, Fibermesh business unit manager. "We are still innovating and leading the industry with a full spectrum of products that bring the right fiber for the application, every time … As concrete becomes increasingly engineered, our fibers ensure performance, increase value and reduce risk, reinforcing our customers' reputations, and building the industry.”

The launch affirms Propex's alignment with ready mixed customers worldwide and  the importance of fibers for the future of concrete, he adds. Fibermesh leads a family of products that includes all four Propex categories of branded fibers—Fibermesh microsynthetic, Enduro macrosynthetic, Novomesh blended and Novocon steel.

Euclid Chemical, Cleveland, has added to its synthetic concrete fiber program with the acquisition of LaFayette, Ga.-based PSI Packaging Inc., which offers micro and macro product for ready mixed and precast producers. With annual sales upward of $6 million, PSI was founded in 1999 by four principals who effected the transaction; it will operate as part of Euclid Chemical under the RPM Building Solutions Group, serving construction markets worldwide.

PSI provides a complementary product line to existing Euclid Chemical fibers.  "This acquisition brings additional manufacturing and sales capacity for fibers used in concrete reinforcement to Euclid and [the] Building Solutions Group," said Frank Sullivan, chairman of Medina, Ohio-based RPM International. "PSI will expand its geographical product presence through Euclid Chemical's strong international sales and marketing organization.” Joining RPM in the transition, he adds, are PSI team leaders Dave Bliek and Grant Beasley.

Michael Kraft was promoted to director of International Sales and Marketing for Besser GmbH, effective in February. His responsibilities include setting and achieving the Besser capital equipment sales goals for all Besser Co. product lines through management of the international sales force and product promotion. Kraft will be responsible for management of the international sales force, exclusive of the Americas and China, along with international trade shows and publications.  

A Cornell University bachelor of science graduate, he began his career with Vapor Energy and spent the past 16 years with Kraft Energy Systems. He succeeds Udo Schmidt, who had served in a contract role since 2007 as director of International Sales.

Besser Co. has named Primavera Landin customer service representative for block, hardscape and pipe producers in Mexico. Landin brings 10-plus years of sales experience, most recently as a representative for Kraft Energy. Nelly C. de Ricalde is the primary contact for producers requiring Besser parts. She brings years of experience gained from working with her husband, Nelio Ricalde, former Besser Mexico agent.  

Holcim (US) Inc. of Waltham, Mass., has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by taking a pledge to reduce its industrial energy intensity by 25 percent over a 10-year period. In doing so, the company joins more than 100 of the largest companies in the U.S. that recognize the economic and environmental benefits of energy-efficient manufacturing. "Holcim has long been committed to improving its use of natural resources and impact on the environment," said Bernard Terver, president and chief executive officer, Holcim (US). "Partnering with the Department of Energy on this initiative demonstrates our continued commitment to reducing energy consumption."

As part of the pledge, Holcim (US) will, with DOE assistance, develop a baseline of energy consumption at manufacturing facilities and create an energy management plan that will help the company take action on identified opportunities to reduce energy intensity.