True to a consent decree deadline finalized in federal court a year ago, the Environmental Protection Agency capped five-plus years of rulemaking on coal combustion residuals (CCR) management and disposal in late 2014, tabling a contentious measure that would have hampered ASTM C618 fly ash specifications and prospects.
The industry entered 2014 with limited tailwind. Last year’s cement shipments and concrete output fell a few points from 2012, and prolonged, catastrophic winter weather hampered construction through the end of March. Before the snow melted, a) good market indicators supporting overdue plant and fleet investment were evident; b) one global and two domestic transactions surfaced, altering the top U.S. and Canadian concrete, cement and aggregate producer ranks; c) ready mixed and manufactured-concrete producers embraced new protocols for the LEED v4 era of green building; and, d) mobile device-suited information technology offerings surfaced, inviting the use of big data analytics to lower concrete production and delivery costs.
The most recent proposed initial public offering of a business featuring U.S. and Canadian concrete production assets, Votorantim Cementos, was withdrawn with little explanation last fall. As presented by Brazil’s Votorantim Industrial S.A., the IPO encompassed a portfolio of cement and concrete operations in the Americas, Europe and Africa, and had a target value hovering $5 billion.
Cement and concrete interests have embraced incentives in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED v4 rating system and related standards through which project owners and designers view or stand to view cast-in-place, precast and masonry specifications.
Management and staff optimism resonated in recent visits to Texas precast/prestressed producers, old and new alike. As with many of their neighbors and peer operators, they find much to like about their home turf these days: Business-friendly government, strong investment in public and private transportation infrastructure, plus healthy commercial and residential building levels.