Concrete Products

FEB 2019

Concrete Products covers the issues that attract producers of ready mixed and manufactured concrete focusing on equipment and material technology, market development and management topics.

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Page 48 of 77 February 2019 • 45 COVER STORY CAMBRIDGE PAVERS The new plant rose in 2017-2018 on the South Amboy site, shown at north and west elevations. While most product is transferred from the plant on shipping pallets, Cambridge Pavers stores and delivers pavers and certain wall units without them. The absence of shipping pallets enables stacking of paver products six high—no small factor for a producer whose yard capacity is designed for the equivalent of 8 million square feet of stones. PHOTOS: Concrete Products SEEDING SUCCESS Cambridge Pavers was founded in 1995 amid the hardscape unit and outdoor living movement that instilled in North America a concrete product category entrenched in European and other overseas markets. The company's impetus grew out of a 1984 visit to a paving stone manufacturing plant in Florida that showed Charles Gamarekian, Sr. how concrete pavers' time had come. When comparing the per capita use or consumption of pavers here versus established markets, he says, "We hadn't scratched surface then and still have a long way to go to realizing the potential of interlocking concrete pavement and segmental retaining wall units." The paving stone plant tour was at the start of a 1984-1994 tenure with the proprietors of a Sparta, N.J. quarry and real estate business from which Grinnell Concrete Paving Stones was launched. Gamarekian and current production chief Martin built a paver plant in 1985, establishing Grinnell among operators whose production and promotion vision made the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast the nucleus of the North American concrete hardscape business. During the Grinnell tour of duty, Gamarekian and competitors or peers led a push for the Concrete Paver Institute within the National Concrete Masonry Association. In 1993, they chartered the Inter- locking Concrete Pavement Institute, of which he served as inaugural chair. Two years later, Gamarekian founded Cambridge Pavers with one machine and a plant on about half of the present headquarters acreage. The second and third machines in Lyndhurst, along with additional land, were acquired 1997-2002. Those investments helped cover paver and wall unit demand to the 2008-2011 market downturn, although Cambridge experienced continued growth each and every year. Mindful of hardscapes' still-low per capita sales factor, Cambridge Pavers doubled down on market- ing, promotion and customer training expenditures throughout the recession—returns on which were quickly manifested. Increased demand compelled the producer to scout land for a satellite plant to support projected volume requirements and new product development. Lacking a suitable site that could be developed in time to meet customer commitments, Cambridge Pavers acquired the two-machine South Amboy plant and related assets in 2014 from Capitol Ornamental Concrete. Production requirements for existing accounts and new paver or wall unit shipments spurred 2016-2017 planning to retire the older Capitol line and start from the ground up on a successor. The South Amboy plant overhaul is the latest in a long line of Cambridge Pavers strategies to pace or eclipse the impressive growth curve concrete hardscape interests have fostered over nearly three decades. The trajectory is best indicated in the ICPI 2018 Industry Sales Profile, showing annual U.S. and Canadian industry shipments hovering 750 million square feet of product. Instead of letting success and sustained volume increases get to their heads, Cambridge Pavers team members—like many ICPI peers and staff—concentrate on building a paver and SRW contractor or installer universe critical to the industry's future. Cambridge Pavers draws 25 to 500 participants to regional contractor and installer schools in February and March. "Our people are all pulling in the right direction," says Jeff Martin. "Motivating, training and learning are what we do." "We stress best practices for sales, installation, and jobsite efficiency. We underwrite project software development and help train contrac- tors on how to use design programs in their sales efforts," adds Charles Gamarekian, Sr. "Our marketing support includes coop programs for radio, television and social media. If contractors decide to exhibit at home shows, we give them paver and wall units for displays and to use after- wards. Cambridge Pavers' mission is for contractors to grow."

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