Jereme Montgomery tries to get young people interested in choosing construction as a career.
JoLynn/Developing Memories Jereme Montgomery tries to get young people interested in choosing construction as a career.

Nebraska in January can be a little dreary with nothing but stubble and windblown snow across the brown fields. Having lived in the state as a child I knew what to expect from the weather and scenery, so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to attending the Nebraska Concrete Conference in 2013. Jereme Montgomery, executive director of the Nebraska Concrete and Aggregates Association, picked me up at the airport in Omaha and drove me halfway across the state to Kearney, stopping only for one of Nebraska’s world-famous Runza sandwiches. Driving through the growing dark, Jereme told me of his journey from wrestler to concrete enthusiast.

An objective in many parts of the country has long been to increase concrete’s market share of parking lots. Nationally, it’s something like 10%. In Nebraska in 2012, concrete’s share was 75% and with Jereme’s pushing that has probably grown. Over the past three years, I’ve seem Jereme at various industry meetings, always curious and always looking for ways to promote and advance concrete. Now he has taken up the issue of workforce development and is finding similar success. That’s why, as Rick Yelton describes in the article starting on page 20, Jereme Montgomery is one of this year’s Most Influential People in the concrete producer industry.

Eric Koehler, another of our Most Influential for 2016, first came to our attention with a series of blogs he wrote for Concrete Construction’s website when he was working at Verifi, the onboard system for measuring concrete slump and adjusting water and admixtures during transit to the jobsite. Those blogs were among some of the most popular content on the website during 2014. Now at Titan America, he continues to be an important industry member, taking on reducing wasted concrete.

Our third Most Influential this year is Bill Del Zotto, who is the third generation to run Del Zotto Products, manufacturer of precast forms. I first met Bill seven years ago when I learned that he was involved with a new magazine called Concrete Today. Just before the economy turned south in 2009, that magazine was producing some good content for the industry, but it didn’t survive the downturn. Then at last year’s World of Concrete, Del Zotto hosted the Precast Concrete Showcase, demonstrating how to make precast concrete products. That event will continue at the show in January, demonstrating mostly forms to make concrete safe rooms—a new and potentially lucrative product for precasters.

Congratulations to all three of these industry leaders. We’re honored to have them and need more like them—people who aren’t afraid to do things differently to advance our industry.