The Economist:
Edward J. Sullivan, Portland Cement Association

The source of accurate, forward-looking information in the concrete industry

Numbers by themselves have little meaning. But when people want to understand how economic data—past, present, and future—relate to the concrete industry, frequently the first person they turn to is Ed Sullivan, chief economist for the Portland Cement Association (PCA).

Sullivan came to the PCA just five years ago, delivering his first industry economic outlook the day before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Since then he has become well known for his thoughtful interpretation of cement production and use data, both in the context of U.S. markets and the global economy. Today his views and analyses are widely used in corporate and government planning far beyond the concrete industry.

Among other accolades, Sullivan has been cited by the Chicago Federal Reserve for the past two years as the most accurate forecaster of economic growth among 30 top economists. “We tend to be much more pessimistic, which is important when you are a forecaster,” he says.

As Sullivan sees it, each business cycle is unique, with its own personality. Because no two business cycles are the same, he says, it is important to look at conditions surrounding consumer spending, which accounts for $2 of every $3 dollars spent. “You can't just look at back data; you have to look ahead,” Sullivan says.

Sullivan began his career tracking and analyzing the steel industry. Some time later he joined the CIA, as “the steel guy,” where he spent the next 20 years following the auto industry. Coming to the PCA, Sullivan was well equipped with a full and complete industrial economist's skill set, even though he had no background in construction.

In the end, being an economist boils down to being a storyteller, Sullivan says. “There's so much data out there, especially now. We condense that information into a story and present it in a way that people can understand it.” And few industrial economists do that as well as he does.

The Ambassador:
David L. Kelly, Meadow Burke

Representing the tilt-up industry

If 48 years in the tilt-up industry has taught Dave Kelly one thing: it is to embrace technology. “Technology can only continue to help expand the industry as much as it helped expand it the last 50 years,” says Kelly, vice president and chief engineer for Meadow Burke, Tampa, Fla.

As an ambassador to the tilt-up industry, he holds 21 U.S. patents (with four more pending) on tilt-up erection, bracing, forming, and structural hardware components. Kelly also has taught more than 100 seminars on tilt-up connections, finishes, erection, bracing, construction safety, and design in conjunction with the industry's major associations. Finally, Kelly has been responsible for setting the design criteria on more than 4½ million tilt-up panels and served as engineer-of-record for more than 200 tilt-up buildings as well as 350 other structures.

On the technical side, one of Kelly's main challenges has focused on height—specifically, how tilt-up panels could be safely lifted at a jobsite. “The continued development of longer and longer braces removed the height restrictions on how tall a tilt-up panel could be lifted,” he says.

Despite all of his accomplishments in the tilt-up industry, one factor remains at the forefront of any tilt-up project in which Kelly is involved—safety. According to Kelly, safety must be on everyone's mind at a jobsite regardless of the importance of the project. “Usually everyone pays attention and is cautious on special or difficult projects,” says Kelly. “Therefore, the problems, incidents, and accidents are more likely to occur on the simple and ordinary tilt-up projects.”

The Scientist:
Howard M. Kanare, CTLGroup

Changing the way we look at concrete-related problems

Like most people in the industry, Howard Kanare admits when he landed his first job, he didn't know the difference between cement and concrete. Today, he knows more than most people about that difference and all its ramifications.

Kanare studied chemistry and material science in college. In 1979 he started with the Portland Cement Association as an associate research chemist. His early work included chemical and physical analysis of cements. By 1988 he became manager of chemical services for CTLGroup. It was then that his career path began the midcourse adjustment from cement chemistry to concrete construction troubleshooting.

“In the early 1990s we began to get calls asking about compatibility of floor finish systems and concrete floor slabs,” Kanare says. “I realized that many different groups participated in the construction and operation of floors, but these people rarely planned or worked together.”

CTL investigated hundreds of floor system failures for the next few years, and Kanare began to see some trends that could be used to understand how to better build these systems. As a result he adopted an interdisciplinary approach to teaching design and construction methods for successful floor systems. His main premise takes into account what he calls the “chain of responsibility.” “Everyone from architect to ready-mix supplier to flooring manufacturer to the guy who mops the floor plays a role in achieving a successful outcome,” he says.

Ultimately CTL joined forces with ACI, ASCC, and Hanley Wood to convene an Inter-Industry Working Group on Concrete Floor Issues in April 2003, which Kanare co-chaired. In an effort to address one issue identified in that gathering—excess moisture in concrete slabs that are to receive moisture-sensitive floor coverings—Kanare invented a new type of relative humidity (RH) probe. Inserted into a concrete slab, the patented, thumb-sized, stay-in-place device rapidly provides accurate RH information that far better reflects the slab's moisture conditions than traditional moisture vapor emission tests.

The Engineers:
Jerry Holland and Wayne Walker, Structural Services Inc.

Designing better floors and pavements

Working together for 28 years, first at Lockwood Greene in Atlanta and for the past five plus years as partners at Structural Services Inc. (SSI), Dallas, Jerry Holland and Wayne Walker are a team and close friends who talk every day about their ideas.

Walker is a structural engineer and has many academic honors, has published numerous papers, and is the current chair of the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Committee 360, Design of Slabs on Ground. At Lockwood Greene, he met Holland and the two started working together. Holland is also a structural engineer who has published numerous papers and is heavily involved with ACI, serving on six committees. He grew up in a contractor family, including his father and grandfather. He still has his dad's finishing tools. He can't remember a time when he wasn't involved with concrete in some fashion.

Starting as engineers who worked on the broad base of design and construction engineering, both men gradually focused on commercial/industrial floor and pavement design, construction, and troubleshooting. Having the opportunity to see where slab failures occurred helped them to design better ones. They still make it a practice to revisit their installations and others' years afterward to check the performance and see where problems develop. Holland says some engineers inadvertently pass on high repair and maintenance expenses to owners and contractors because they don't know how their designs perform years later, so repeatedly make the same mistakes.

Holland and Walker like being on the cutting edge. The first signs of failure often occur at control joints, so they focus on better load transfer systems, post-tensioning (PT) reinforcing systems to eliminate joints and cracks (they designed the largest PT floor installation to date), and shrinkage-compensating concrete floor and pavement systems (including a world-record pavement). They are currently designing high-volume macro fiber floor systems with greatly increased spacing between control joints, reduced curling, and thinner slabs in some applications.

The Consensus Builder:
Joseph A. Daczko, BASF Construction Chemicals

Nurturing SCC from concept into widespread viability and use

Every new gizmo has to have a champion or two to be successful—someone to imagine the possibilities and spread the vision of how it might be used to real advantage. But beyond that, someone has to work out the details and move the idea from the dream world into the real world. For self-consolidating concrete (SCC), Joe Daczko has been a leader in building an industry consensus on this brave, new way to do concrete.

Daczko is the chair of the ACI Committee 237, Self-Consolidating Concrete, where he has provided leadership since the committee's formation in 2003. Beginning with the first stages of product acceptance—developing a simple concise definition of self-consolidating concrete—through the committee's preparation of the newly released state-of-the-art report, Daczko has been a stabilizing yet driving force toward the wider acceptance and use of SCC.

Daczko got a taste of heavy construction early in his life visiting job-sites with his father, who was in the construction business. After earning his bachelor's degree in languages, he began working for a lightweight aggregate company in Cleveland, followed by a short stint with a precast concrete producer. In the early 1990s, Daczko joined Master Builders where he worked in product development. Realizing that a little more knowledge would go a long way, he took several chemistry classes and soon became manager of the concrete testing group, where he continued to explore and develop new admixture-based concrete technology.

When Northwestern University's Surendra Shah was visiting the company's lab, Daczko suggested that he consider organizing a conference to spread the growing information about SCC. Out of that came the first North American SCC Conference, held in coordination with the Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials.

In 2005, Daczko moved into a marketing role where he manages the Glenium product line, now under the BASF banner. He continues to lead ACI Committee 237 and also is active on the ASTM C09.47 subcommittee on self-consolidating concrete.

The Builders:
Linda Figg and Denney Pate, FIGG

Making concrete bridge construction beautiful

Gene Figg, Linda's father, founded FIGG (Figg Engineering Group), Tallahassee, Fla., to focus on bridge design. Its specialty is concrete segmental bridge design and construction engineering, both cast-in-place and precast. Both Linda Figg and Denney Pate graduated from Auburn University about the same time with degrees in civil engineering and grew up in the company together. Pate says that Gene Figg hired him right after he graduated and he has worked there ever since. He says that when he was eight years old he decided that he wanted to build bridges and never wavered from that goal. Figg joined the firm immediately after graduation as well, having assignments in several departments to experience every aspect of the business. When her father passed away almost six years ago, Figg became president, CEO, and director of bridge art. Pate serves as senior vice president and principal bridge engineer.

Figg and Pate are a team—complementing each other with their individual areas of expertise. Figg's passion includes form and function, aesthetics, and efficiency of design. Pate's focus is on the details that can deliver the vision, engaging more at the hard-core engineering level. They both believe in the benefits of building with concrete, including its sustainability and wide range of design possibility.

The Decorative Finisher:
Lance Boyer, Trademark Concrete Systems Inc.

Raising the bar for decorative concrete

Four years ago, at the request of concrete industry professionals, Lance Boyer agreed to become chairman of the ACI C601-D, Decorative Concrete Finisher certification committee—a newly organized committee with the purpose to raise the level of education and training in order to increase the standard of quality required for the decorative concrete industry. Decorative Concrete Certification will allow for specifications requiring ACI Certified Decorative Concrete Finishers. As a result, the standards of the decorative concrete industry will be elevated. With Boyer's organized and well-managed leadership, the committee is close to completing their task—ahead of schedule by ACI standards.

Boyer has a long history with decorative concrete contracting. As a graduate of Arizona State's construction management program, he first worked with a general contractor specializing in hotel and high-rise office building construction. Then he worked for the next 11 years for a decorative contractor before starting his own business, Trademark Concrete Systems Inc. in 1997. Today, Trademark has offices in Anaheim and Ventura, serving the Southern California area. They currently have about 50 craftsmen working in the field at any given time.

Like most decorative companies, Trademark markets itself to designing professionals. Boyer says that landscape architects specify much of the work that he installs. On the one hand, specifiers in the Los Angeles area tend to like concrete that looks like concrete—wanting clean, simple, and crack-free installations. On the other hand, Boyer is frequently called and asked, “can you do this” questions. Boyer says his company often is pushed to the frontiers of decorative work—making design-driven work one of its specialties.

The Petrographers:
Bernie Erlin, The Erlin Co., and Bill Hime, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates

Using petrography and chemistry to help us understand the turmoil below the surface

Bernie Erlin and Bill Hime met at the Portland Cement Association (PCA) when they joined its staff. Erlin says that as new professionals, they had an opportunity to work with some of the great names in the industry at that time. Erlin's degree is in geology and Hime's is in analytical chemistry. After 12 years there, they left to form their own company, Erlin Hime Associates, specializing in chemical and petrographic analysis of concrete and other construction materials. Erlin focused on petrographic work, Hime on chemistry. In 1984 they sold their company to Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates (WJE). Their partnership ended after both became principals at WJE and with Erlin eventually starting The Erlin Co., in Latrobe, Pa., though they have remained close during the intervening years.

Petrography is technically a field of geology but in the world of concrete it is about the identification of materials and how they are put together. With the state-of-the-art equipment available today, it's possible to identify individual molecules in specimens. The concrete industry depends on petrographers to do forensic work, investigating failures and testifying in court as expert witnesses when that becomes necessary. They also help manufacturers with new product development and sometimes get involved in materials testing and investigations when projects are just beginning. In addition, they research in areas related to concrete such as corrosion of metals and use of admixtures, epoxies, varieties of coatings, and fibers used in conjunction with concrete.

Both Erlin and Hime are nationally recognized experts in the field of petrography, chemistry, and concrete technology. Together, they have popularized the profession more than anyone else.

The Listener:
Robert P. Foley, Con/Steel Tilt-Up Systems

Pinpointing the needs of the marketplace

For nearly three decades, Robert Foley, president, Con/Steel Tilt-Up Systems, Dayton, Ohio, has been involved with structural design, estimation, and construction of tilt-up buildings. Foley has helped lead the tilt-up industry beyond the traditional box designs originally associated with tilt-up construction.

But as his career has evolved over the years, Foley's focus has been weaned from the design aspect of tilt-up and evolved to an assembly of an alliance of design/build tilt-up contractors. The goal of this network is to build on a mutual base of experience to provide building owners a competitive, high-quality building product that responds to their needs for distinction and schedule.

“The most gratifying aspect of my job is not one particular project but rather the assembly of this network of design/build contractors,” says Foley. It is this network that has led Con/Steel to win dozens of tilt-up projects over the years.

Most of the members of the alliance are the leading tilt-up contractors in their market area and once they introduce a new practice, technology, or product during a subgroup meeting, it often is emulated by other tilt-up contractors. It is this refinement of the design/build concept combined with the competitive success of the tilt-up method that has appealed to Foley during his career.

Although the network is a success, Foley feels the tilt-up industry remains challenged by a shortage of qualified engineers and construction professionals to advance the industry. “One thing I hear from our contractors is the difficulty in finding good quality people. There is no ‘University of Tilt-Up' so we must identify bright young people graduating from engineering schools and from the building trades and provide them training,” says Foley.

The Engineer:
Mary K. Hurd CC Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Writing concrete history

Involved in the concrete industry for more than 50 years, Mary K. Hurd has managed to overcome a variety of obstacles in the course of her career to become one of the most respected leaders in the concrete industry.

Hurd cites being the author of the publication “Formwork for Concrete”—under the moniker M.K. Hurd—as one of her crowning achievements. Currently, in its seventh edition, the publication has sold more than 125,000 copies. In addition to serving as editor of Concrete Construction for a time, Hurd worked in various capacities for the American Concrete Institute (ACI), wrote more than 230 articles for various concrete-related publications, and has been recognized for various awards, including ACI's Concrete Practice Award and the Anson Marston Medal, the highest award bestowed by Iowa State University's College of Engineering.

Personally, Hurd says it is the people and friendships she established while in the concrete industry that have helped her achieve such a successful career. “I enjoyed meeting the people who were responsible for a lot of the new developments in the industry. I had quite a group of friends in formwork and I learned a lot from them, many of whom I remain in contact with regularly,” she says.

These days, Hurd still finds herself thinking about concrete and the concrete industry, whether it be writing the occasional article, communicating with her many friends from the industry, or contemplating the concrete that leads to her home.

According to Hurd, her whitetopped driveway remained crack-free for 16 years, finally developing a single crack in 2007 following some extraordinary severe Michigan weather.

Hurd was able to locate the original contractor responsible for the whitetopping of her driveway—which was an unusual way to restore a driveway to say the least—and rehired him for another innovative project. This time, it involved whitetopping a 90-foot sidewalk using a high volume synthetic fiber (HVSF) concrete. “7½ pounds of fiber to be exact,” says Hurd. Influencing her desire for such a mix was an article she read on fiber-reinforced concrete in a recent edition of Concrete Construction.

See related article: Five More Influencers.