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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The Beginning The association can trace its roots back to a small C h i c a g o - b a s e d group determined to improve the quality of early concrete mason- ry. A gathering of like-minded manufacturers and machinery pro- ducers meet in the offices of the Hydrostone Company on March 6, 1918. They decide to form a group called the "Concrete Products As- sociation" (CPA). This action gives all elements of the concrete products industry a better idea of how they must organize their forces to get anything done. It takes several months of coordination for the newly formed CPA to completely organize. When they finally hold their first convention at the Congress Hotel in Chicago, leaders work through the night to draft a list of lofty objec- tives. On the morning of February 10, 1920, the membership dedicates itself to sharing knowl- edge, refining manufacturing techniques, pro- moting the use of concrete block and estab- lishing product standards. J. K. Harridge is chosen as the first official CPA president and offices are established within the Portland Cement Association. The group would go on to share its office and mission with the PCA for the next two decades. During this period, the first version of the association weath- ers building booms, overcapacity and a dev- astating economic crash. At the sparsely attended 1929 convention in New Orleans, the young group vows to survive the depressing downturn. Depression Takes Toll As the Great Depression grips the country, concrete block production tumbles right along with the failing economy. Production numbers for 1933 stand at 45-million units; that's way down from 1928's peak of 387-million. Many block plants are permanently padlocked and many others find their machinery sitting idle. Survivors endure cut-throat competition, with remaining producers battling for the small share of remaining business. The block indus- try suffers through price cuts, ridiculous credit terms and makes dangerous concessions just to stay afloat. Those dire straits lead to the organization refo- cusing its mission and formally adopting a lofty new name: "National Concrete Masonry Asso- ciation" (NCMA). One of the very first actions of the newly revived association is to send its president (Dr. R. "Spec" Collins) to Washing- ton to convince government officials concrete block should be used in all types of govern- ment buildings. Another focus of the early NCMA is sponsor- ing comprehensive load tests at Underwrit- ers' Laboratories and the National Bureau of Standards. The results of that research are immortalized in one of the very first NCMA pro- motional publications, Facts About Concrete Masonry. The War Years By early 1940s, war- time restrictions and competi- tion with other building ma- terials grows so fierce that association leaders are compelled to fight back. The brick, tile and lumber indus- tries have strong associations and powerful connections in Washington. That gives those groups considerable advantage over the con- crete products industry, especially in obtaining government work. In an NCMA promotional brochure, the mem- bership is told "growing competition, not only of other masonry units but also of new non-fire- proof materials, is costing our industry untold thousands of dollars in war work contracts. It will be felt even more when peace comes." The group comes to an historic conclusion: the association needs to become a self-sustaining, organization. In laying out the case for an independent NCMA, leaders say "this industry has come of age. It is no longer a backyard sand pile and hoe affair. It has sizable investments to protect—it has a brilliant future to achieve. Your association is beginning to function on a scale to command the greater respect of all elements in government and in construc- tion fields. To bring to its members maximum benefits, the National Concrete Masonry Asso- ciation is embarking upon a definite, realistic program." An Independent NCMA On January 1, 1943 that program kicks-off, first with thanks to the Portland Cement Associa- tion for their past support, then with a flurry of activity. The goal of the newly independent NCMA is to directly represent the concrete masonry industry. They hire a full-time direc- tor, leave the PCA building and open their own fully staffed office in the First National Bank Building of Chicago. The new working di- rector of the NCMA is well qualified for his assignment. E.W. (El- mer) Dienhart got his The National Concrete Masonry Association is celebrating a century of advocacy, research and promotion on behalf of its membership. Throughout 2018, the NCMA will look back on its long 100-year journey to establish itself as the single national representative for the manufactured concrete masonry and hardscape products industry. During this period, the overcapacity and a dev By early 1940s, war- DIENHART

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