Concrete Products

JUL 2014

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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Two symbolic developments this past month spotlight heavy building materials' wide-ranging contributions: to urbanization across the world as well as the portfolio of an operator in the business for the long haul. In a "Have You Hugged a Concrete Pillar Today?" blog post, Microsoft founder Bill Gates took stock of Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization, the latest work from his favorite author, historian Vaclav Smil: "He argues that the most important man-made material is concrete, both in terms of the amount we produce each year and the total mass we've laid down." "Concrete is the foundation (literally) for the massive expansion of urban areas of the past several decades, which has been a big factor in cutting the rate of extreme poverty in half since 1990. In 1950, the world made roughly as much steel as cement (a key ingredient in concrete); by 2010, steel production had grown by a factor of 8, but cement had gone up by a factor of 25," wrote Gates, who opened his post referencing the 15,000 tons of concrete that sup- port the four miles of surface streets between his home and offce. The post-war cement and steel consumption contrast set the stage for a second symbolic development for cement and concrete interests. S&P Dow Jones switched indices for two New York Stock Exchange-traded companies: Martin Marietta Materials Inc. shifting from the MidCap 400 to the S&P 500, replacing a former contemporary in cement production, United States Steel Corp. Through at least the mid-1960s, Martin Marietta was a top 10 powder producer, with nine plants and nearly 5 million tons' capacity. U.S. Steel's Uni- versal Atlas business maintained a top fve position, running 10 plants with 5 million-plus tons' capacity. Much more recently, U.S. Steel exited a partnership in northern Michigan's massive Presque Isle Quarry—now one of Lafarge North America's prized assets. The S&P Dow Jones index transitions refect current market capitalization levels representative of the S&P 500 and MidCap 400, respectively: Martin Mar- ietta, $8.75 billion, following the Texas Industries, Inc. merger; U.S. Steel, $3.8 billion. After its shares are exchanged for newly issued Martin Marietta stock, TXI will be removed from the S&P SmallCap 600, and exit the New York Stock Exchange after 50 years. The shuffing tells a tale of two industries where foreign-based operators have established major North American footholds. One has battled overcapacity and imports for at least three decades, the other has resolved smaller scale skirmishes over imports and dumping claims, and weathered cycles where plant utilization dropped to 50 percent or less. In Senate Committee on Finance testimony late last month, U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi weighed in on global market conditions that have taken a heavy toll on one the 20th century's industrial icons: "The approach and manner in which foreign companies are dumping thousands of tons of products into the U.S. market leads business leaders such as me to conclude that American steel companies are being tar- geted for elimination." Martin Marietta counterpart, Ward Nye, has returned his company to the cement business via TXI, whose principal assets are Hunters and Midlothian, Texas, and Oro Grande, Calif., mills—combining for 6 million tons' capacity. On its home turf especially, TXI enjoys a vertically integrated cement, aggregate and ready mixed concrete business model a domestic steel producer could only dream of. Through solid management and an evolving portfolio of secure assets in strong markets, Martin Marietta has emerged as a U.S. heavy building ma- terials bellwether equal to the S&P 500 and leadership in a mature, but hardly low-tech, business of which Bill Gates has taken note. EDITORIAL BY DON MARSH MINING MEDIA INTERNATIONAL EDITORIAL OFFICE 11555 Central Parkway, Suite 401 Jacksonville, Florida 32224 U.S.A. P: +1.904.721.2925 F: +1.904.721.2930 EDITOR Don Marsh, dmarsh@mining-media.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Josephine Smith, jsmith@mining-media.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Michael Florman, mflorman@mining-media.com EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Steve Fiscor, sfiscor@mining-media.com MINING MEDIA INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE OFFICE 8751 East Hampden Avenue, Suite B-1 Denver, Colorado 80231 U.S.A. P: +1.303.283.0640 F: +1.303.283.0641 PRESIDENT/PUBLISHER Peter Johnson, pjohnson@mining-media.com VP-SALES & MARKETING John Bold, jbold@mining-media.com U.S., CANADA SALES Bill Green, bgreen@mining-media.com GERMAN SALES Gerd Strasman, strasmannmedia@t-online.de SHOW MANAGER Tanna Holzer, tholzer@mining-media.com PRODUCTION MANAGER Dan Fitts, dfitts@mining-media.com Concrete Products, Volume 117, Issue 7, (ISSN 0010-5368, USPS 128-180) is published monthly by Mining Media Inc., 10 Sedgwick Drive, Englewood, Colorado 80113 (mining-media.com). Periodicals postage paid at Englewood Colorado, and additional mailing offices. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40845540. Canada return address: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor ON N9A 6J5, Email: cir- culation@mining-media.com. Current and back issues and additional resources, including subscription request forms and an editorial calander, are available online at www.concreteproducts.com. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified persons may subscribe at the following rates: USA and Canada, 1 year $72.00, 2 year $119.00, 3 year $161.00. For subscriber services or to order single copies, write to Concrete Products, 8751 East Hampden, Suite B1, Denver, Colorado 80231 USA; call +1.303.283.0640 (USA) or visit www. mining-media.com ARCHIVES AND MICROFORM: This magazine is available for research and retrieval of selected archived articles from leading electronic databases and online search services, including Factiva, LexisNexis, and ProQuest. For microform availability, contact ProQuest at 800-521-0600 or +1.734-761-4700, or search the Serials in Microform listings at www.proquest.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Concrete Products, P.O. Box 1337, Skokie, IL 60076. REPRINTS: Mining Media Inc, 8751 East Hampden Avenue, Suite B1, Denver, CO 80231 USA; P: +1.303.283.0640, F: 1+303.283.0641, www.mining-media.com. 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