Sharon J. Rehana

The sixth-annual Women in Concrete Luncheon and Forum zeroed in on a hot topic in the concrete industry—infrastructure.

This year’s speakers focused on ways in which concrete contractors, producers, and suppliers are turning their efforts to infrastructure projects to grow and protect their businesses.

Kelly Page, executive/technical director for the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI, Booth S10739), outlined the opportunities that exist for contractors and material suppliers in the fast-growing industry. She identified two markets in particular: the bridge market, with an estimated $9 billion of needed repairs; and the wastewater segment, poised to spend around $390 billion over the next 20 years bringing existing systems to capacity.

Page stressed the importance of getting involved in associations, staying educated about the issues, and using those resources to urge politicians to increase infrastructure investment.

“Get your association members to write to their local congressmen,” Page advises.

Diana Sanicki, marketing manager for concrete equipment supplier Doka (Booth C5824), Little Ferry, N.J., addressed the issues she faces in trying to promote efficiency and new ideas to concrete contractors as they look to specialized infrastructure areas, such as bridges, as a new source of growth.

“We have to adapt our formwork specifically for infrastructure projects,” says Sanicki. This means developing forms for different types of structures, such as towers and bridges. “We had to change our strategy and provide custom solutions.”

Kari Yuers, president and CEO of Kryton International (Booth S12115), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, develops and manufactures a wide range of products designed to waterproof, repair and protect concrete structures.

“We are in an amazing and unprecedented moment in history,” Yuers says. “Population shifts, innovations in concrete technology, and the globalization of our economy provide us with opportunities we have never seen before.”

Concrete innovations that can prove important for many infrastructure projects include photocatalytic cement that, when exposed to sunlight, resists pollutants such as mold, bacteria, and soot; “greener” cement that reduces carbon emissions in the production process; and transparent cement, created by bonding special resins so insulated, light-transmitting construction panels can be manufactured to construct buildings that consume less light.

This year’s luncheon also launched the Woman of Distinction Award, which honors a woman of influence in the concrete industry.