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Compressed natural gas: Promising power

After a three-month trial with a handful of McNeilus Next Generation Initiatives mixer trucks, our cover story subject decided 2012 would be a turning point in fleet and fuel specifications: diesel out, natural gas in. A leader in greater Chicago and northern Indiana  ready mixed, Ozinga Brothers Inc. is now a leading catalyst for the industry's adoption of compressed nat­ural (CNG) vehicle power (pages 22-25 ).

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Limited exposure to Europe helps Votorantim Cimentos in IPO quest

In 2012 business reviews, the world’s leading public cement companies confirm sales or profit declines reflecting deep ties to European Union economies beset by nightmarish governing. Brazil’s Votorantim Cimentos S.A. is preparing to join the publicly traded operators club, presenting investors a portfolio with a key differentiating factor—minor European exposure—compared to peers Cemex SAB de C.V., Heidelberg Cement, Holcim Ltd., Italcementi SpA and Lafarge Group.

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Aggregate top guns believe in recovery

Three credible sources offer a welcome follow up on the encouraging 2013 construction and concrete business outlook noted here last month. In investor guidance, the top U.S. aggregate producers—each with varying levels of integrated concrete, cement, asphalt and road building businesses—report slight 2012 sales or earnings improvement over the prior year, plus 2013 market confidence underpinned by MAP-21 highway bill funding, plus gains in residential and nonresidential building.

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Producers check unions’ enterprise coercion

When President Obama’s critics talk about abuse of executive power, a National Labor Relations Board reference is close at hand. Questioning the constitutionality of three Board Members' appointments, made when the administration deemed the Senate in recess, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in January that the NLRB lacked a quorum in a 2012 decision for which Washington state employer Noel Canning sought review. The NLRB responded last month, petitioning for Supreme Court review of the appellate court ruling. Post-2011 Board orders would be jeopardized in the event the high court refuses to review the ruling, or upholds it.

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Homes at the heart of confirmed recovery

This year holds strong indicators for a market segment critical to concrete volume, one where most producers have seen a five-year demand curve 50 percent or more off 2007 figures.

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