The 2009 CC100: Mixed Messages

Since CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION started monitoring the financial health of the concrete industry in 2001, concrete-related revenue for the top 100 companies has decreased only once prior to 2008 (that was in 2002 by 1.5%). But that was followed by a pretty good year in 2003 and big jumps in 2005, 2006, and 2007. This trip through the cycle seems likely to be different.

Ron Schuster, CEO, CECO Concrete Construction, Kansas City, Mo., says, remember commercial concrete construction is "a lagging industry—nonresidential lags housing and we all know that housing isn't fixed yet. I think industrial work—petrochemical and chemical facilities, not automotive—will be back next year because oil's coming back. But I don't think commercial nonresidential is coming back anytime soon. In fact, I think 2010 will be worse than 2009. That's unfortunate for all of us, but we've dealt with this sort of thing before."

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Past CC 100 Lists

The 2008 CC 100: Promise Still There

Last year's CC100 report started with a quote from the National Association of Home Builders that a 'dramatic downward correction in housing production still is underway.' Little did we know then that the drama was only just beginning.

Today, residential construction is approaching historic lows, while commercial is holding up well in most areas. Yet, there seems to be a storm on the horizon that everyone is preparing for, not knowing whether it will be a brief shower or a hurricane. 'We need to be a little quicker, a little smarter,' says Clay Fischer, Woodland Construction in Jupiter, Fla. 'But I think we're going to come out of this a lot stronger, ready to take on the next wave.'

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The 2007 CC 100: Still Going Up

New home sales were up 16% in April, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). That sounds like good news, but read the fine print and you learn that April 2007 sales were 11% below 2006 levels, and that building permits are down sharply from a year ago. "The pattern of building permits clearly shows that the dramatic downward correction in housing production still is under way," says NAHB chief economist David Seiders.

So how do you explain the concrete business, which is in the midst of an historical boom? The difference is that the concrete industry went through a tough time in 2002 as the housing industry roared along feeling invincible. Just when someone insists that a new paradigm is upon us, the cycle comes back around. The concrete industry's point in the cycle in 2007 is almost all good, as revealed by our survey of the United States' top concrete contractors. What does this year's data reveal? A great year in 2006 and no hint of a slowdown in 2007. But what about 2008, I asked JH Concrete's Jerry Holtschlag. "Boy! We'd have a lot more money if we could look that far ahead," he said.

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The 2006 CC 100: A Very Busy Year

In December, 2004, The Brookings Institution, an independent research organization, issued a report on the forces that will affect U.S. building trends over the next 25 years. "In 2030," said Brookings' Arthur C. Nelson, "about half of the buildings in which Americans live, work, and shop will have been built after 2000." That's a lot of buildings, and the concrete industry made big strides in that direction during 2005.

Last year was the best year by far since the boom of the late 1990s, with concrete-related revenue increasing nearly 20% for the CC100 contractors, led by a 20% increase in revenue from commercial construction. Anecdotal reports indicate that growth in 2006 may not be quite that dramatic, but overall volume will remain at a very high level

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The 2005 CC 100: Seeking Higher Quality and Margins

Concrete contractors are like farmers–things are never perfect. In the hot years of the late 1990s, labor shortages abounded and quality suffered. Fighting to find business and get decent margins were the main woes during the cold years from 2001 through 2003, then in 2004, just as business warmed again, steel and cement prices spiked and margins suffered.

But in general, 2004 was one of those rare years when most contractors felt pretty good about their businesses. Margins in many parts of the country recovered slightly and the steadily increasing pace of work allowed more focus on quality and safety. Residential work remained very strong, and commercial work began to rebound. Tilt-up work continued to gain in popularity and decorative boomed.

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The 2004 CC 100: Signs of a Steady Rebound

Overall the CC100 contractors had a pretty good year in 2003, and most are having an even better start to 2004. This article includes the top 100 contractors for 2003 by revenue. Also shown are the top 20 "pure" commercial concrete contractors, the 20 fastest growning companies, and the top decorative, residential, and tilt-up contractors.

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