This month we present, for the fifth year, our list of the top 100 concrete contractors in the United States. Some of you will say to yourself, yeah, but who cares? A perfectly valid response since your gross revenue is not all that relevant to how much money actually stays in your pocket at the end of the year. And many contractors are perfectly content, and very successful, earning much less than the $7.4 million it takes to make it into the top 100.

Growing big—or even growing at all—is certainly not essential to success, although I must say that I have seldom talked to a contractor who was hoping to make less this year than last. There's something in the American psyche that seems to drive us towards growth. Our eternal optimism always leads us to conclude that next year will be better, and if it isn't, we must not be working hard enough. We budget for 10% or 20% growth, even when history tells us that's unrealistic. I went to a business seminar once with a large audience from a variety of industries. The speaker first got everyone to agree that the growth in GDP that year was likely to be about 5%. Then he asked those in the audience whose company was budgeting for less than 5% growth to raise their hand. Not a single hand went up. His conclusion? Half of you are wrong.

Although you may not care whether your company made the CC100 list, you can still get some benefit from mining for trends in this data. You will see that more contractors grew in 2004 than in any year since 2000. And from what I'm being told, 2005 will be another strong year if we can get enough cement and if steel or oil prices don't dampen the economy. You'll discover that residential construction is hot (no surprise there), as is tilt-up and decorative. Looking at regions, we find that the West, Southwest, South Central, and Southeast areas of the country are doing well, while the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and Mountain regions are struggling a bit. And contractors tell us that margins have remained tight in the Midwest and Northeast but have bounced back in the West and South.

So what good is this list? It provides one more piece of information to help you make decisions about your business. And if you make it onto the list it allows you to use that in marketing your company. We will be expanding the list next year, so let me know if you discover that maybe you do care, and we'll make sure you have the chance to participate in the survey.

William D. Palmer Jr.
Editor in Chief