“We are all here because we are intellectually and emotionally involved with concrete.”—Bryant Mather

As a graduate student, Malisch heard concrete expert Bryant Mather say these words at a symposium. At the time, Malisch thought the statement was a bit of a stretch. But now he confesses that he is indeed emotionally involved with concrete. “It started about 30 years ago when I first worked for a contractor,” he says.

Today he is especially passionate about ambiguous language, unachievable tolerances, or other unreasonable specification requirements that penalize contractors. “There is often a major gap between expectations expressed in specifications and the contractor's ability to economically meet those expectations,” he says.

Malisch's work history has given him a wide perspective on the concrete industry. He taught at several universities; worked for the contractor that built Missouri's first nuclear power plant; joined the World of Concrete seminar staff; became editor in chief of CC; left to be director of engineering at ACI; joined the PCA as director of educational services; returned as editor in chief of CC; and back to ACI as senior managing director. Currently, he is the technical director for the ASCC, where he spends most of his time as a contractor advocate.

Malisch says contractors face severe challenges in today's economy because hard bids are more competitive than usual, profit margins have shrunk, and contractors are taking jobs they may ordinarily turn down. Under these conditions, unreasonable specification requirements often are ignored just to get the work. The results can be catastrophic. For instance, one common specification requirement directs contractors to repair cracks greater than 0.01 inch wide. This ignores the fact that reinforced concrete is expected to crack and most cracks don't affect serviceability. When enforced, it can cost a contractor untold dollars for needless repairs. In his current role, he calls such specification requirements to the attention of both design professionals and standards developing organizations, but he wryly admits that results of his efforts don't often meet his expectations.

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