Concrete Products

JUN 2018

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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start in the industry back in 1915. After spend- ing years at the PCA promoting concrete ma- sonry, his new challenge is to prepare the in- dustry for what is expected to be an enormous reconstruction period after the war. Peace Time Prosperity In 1944, NCMA looks to peace time, publishing the first edition of Con- crete Masonry Pictori- al, a long-running pub- lication that highlights the best of concrete masonry. The premiere edition is devoted to post-war markets for con- crete masonry noting "the concrete products industry will be ready on victory day." When the war finally ends in 1945, the association's ear- ly optimism and planning is found to be well placed. By 1946, the demand for concrete block is tremendous; a new Federal housing program alone calls for 425-mil- lion units. Thanks to returning veterans receiv- ing G.I. Bills and easier home-financing terms, America quickly enters a period of post-war prosperity. Leaving Chicago In the mid-1950s, NCMA decides to make a major move: it's time to leave Chicago for the nation's capital. This decision offers two ad- vantages: first, the association would now be closer to regulatory bodies and government agencies; and, second, the Washington-area would provide a less expensive base of oper- ations. The move was made in the summer of 1959 with a largely revamped staff. In 1957, Elmer Dienhart decides to retire rather than move to Washington. His replacement will be Walter W. Un- derwood, a graduate of the Princeton Universi- ty School of Military Government, former naval officer and head of membership for several chambers of commerce. Prior to accepting the NCMA post, Underwood spent three years directing membership ex- pansion for the National Association of Home Builders. Swinging Sixties This second NCMA exec- utive will go on to oversee the association throughout the economic growth and prosper- ity of the early 1960s. Throughout this era, dec- orative concrete block becomes synonymous with the streamlined, space-age look of mod- ern architecture. Here in the fast-paced sixties, new design possibilities of concrete masonry are a big part of the NCMA's promotional ef- forts in publications, public relations and na- tional advertising. Emerging Problems But by 1965, there is an emerging problem. As construction takes on a cycle of uncertainty, the block industry is forced to become more and more competitive. Consolidation shrinks the number of block plants in half. In 1967, one hundred key members meet in Washing- ton, D.C. to deal with those issues. Members are asked to make both personal and financial pledges to rededicate themselves to the asso- ciation under "Operation Commitment." The changing times in the block industry are made worse by 1968's social strife and political up- heaval. The year's avalanche of over- whelming events con- tinues to leave its mark on the timeline of American history and that of the NCMA. When John W. Kingery takes office that year, he's given a mandate to once again change the direction of the organization. Exec- utive Director Walter Underwood is out, taking early retirement to join the Republican Na- tional Committee. The membership taps Paul Lenchuk, former head of the Florida Concrete and Products Association, to be its third paid executive. 1970s: A Challenging Decade Throughout the 1970s, NCMA takes on a num- ber of tough tasks with a wide range of new educational programs and governmental out- reach efforts. They work to find a way to com- ply with strict new Occupational Health and Safety (OHSA) limits on sounds in block manu- facturing plants. They point out the problems and expense producers would face to convert to the metric system. This is also the period where the era of post-war reconstruction final- ly stalls. The steady building boom that began with Elmer Dienhart and lost steam with Walter Underwood has just crashed. In the era of Paul Lenchuk, stalled construction, gas shortages and energy crunches are hampering the entire industry. In 1974, NCMA leaders identify Europe's con- crete block pavers as a potential new product and market segment to ease the woes of idled producers. In 1976, NCMA begins to develop a nationwide marketing program to launch pav- ers in the United States. The Eighties During the '80s, a fourth new executive is cho- sen to lead the group. In preparation for the retire- ment of Paul Lenchuk, John A. Heslip of The Masonry Institute of Michigan assumes control of the NCMA. In 1985, Heslip establishes a re- vived sales effort to target the needs of nation- al accounts, design offices that work for cor- porate clients throughout the U.S. He's also on hand as another new concrete product enters the market: segmental retaining wall block. NCMA's short-lived "Innovative Design and Re- search Department," disbanded in 1989, first looked at retaining wall block back in 1983, but this product really traces its roots to Min- nesota. That's where landscape contractors, looking for a more cost-effective wall solution, "wet-cast" their own modular blocks which are stacked to create early walls. During the 1990s, this product will grow to become a major part of the block producer's lineup. The 1990s and Beyond The NCMA will wrap-up its look back at a cen- tury of service during a 100-year gala celebra- tion during the 2018 NCMA Midyear Meeting. The special event is set for July 31 through Au- gust 3 at the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago, the city where the association got its start way back in 1918. Make plans now to attend! You can explore more of the as- sociation's rich history online at UNDERWOOD LENCHUK HESLIP When the war finally ends in 1945, the association's ear found to be well placed. By 1946, the demand for concrete block is tremendous; a new Federal

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