The 2007 National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) Concrete Technologies Tour was one to remember. From insulated concrete forms (ICFs) to colorful concrete creations, the 2007 tour made a mark for old hats and new faces in Minneapolis, on May 6–8. Now in its third year, this unique industry event continues to grow. Variety shaped this year, leaving attendees with a different perspective after each tour stop.

Day one began as Molin Concrete Products revealed techniques on designing and manufacturing precast/prestressed concrete products. On the second tour stop, Schwing America showcased the site where their Pumper Trucks are assembled, prepped, and delivered from steel to wheels. The day ended with a trip to Becker Architectural Concrete where attendees saw the transformation of concrete into a decorative patio. This firsthand demonstration highlighted the process of emphasizing colors, textures, and molds within the product.

The tour also included a trip through the Schwing concrete pump manufacturing facility. From plans to the final testing of boom pumps, tour participants had an opportunity to see how pumpers are made.
Joe Nasvik The tour also included a trip through the Schwing concrete pump manufacturing facility. From plans to the final testing of boom pumps, tour participants had an opportunity to see how pumpers are made.

On day two, attendees visited an ICF house under construction with all of the structural components in view. Concrete homeowners Gary and Jan Sotebeer were present and passionately praised concrete's advantages in an unsolicited testimonial. They spoke about no mold growth in walls, quietness, and structural integrity. “Everything about this home is so superior to a stick-built house that I simply can't say enough about it,” Gary Sotebeer told the group. “If you build these kinds of homes, you are sitting on a gold mine.”

Following the visit to the ICF house, Cemstone illustrated the features of their state-of-the-art ready-mix plant noting the host of aggregate options available that give manufacturers a tailored product unique to their needs. Holcim USA, a supplier of cement and aggregates, took attendees to their automated water terminal showing where the initial concrete process begins. Attendees watched cement barges empty volumes of product to be transferred to trucks for delivery. The last stop of the tour was Anchor Block Co., which included a presentation on modern concepts for concrete masonry units and a trip inside the facility where the units are formed, dried, and inspected.

Attendees walked away from the tour with a distinct point of view of the concrete industry. Michael Weber of the Portland Cement Association and president of NAHB's Concrete Home Building Council was “extremely excited about the quality of plant tours this year. In addition to viewing a cement-based system jobsite and concrete product plants, we were able to visit manufacturing facilities that provide support functions to the industry.”

Be it networking, learning, or supporting the industry, the Concrete Technologies Tour is an event for all concrete industry professionals. The 2008 tour is scheduled to take place in the southeast region of the United States in Charlotte, N.C. Highlights of the tour will include storm resistant housing and masonry construction, as well as other growing areas of the concrete industry.

Evolution and technology breed change and with that comes a need for innovation; concrete can do that and much more.

For more information on the 2008 Concrete Technologies Tour, please visit: www.nahb.org/concretetour.

— Erin Grant, program manager, NAHB, helped in the writing of this article.