The 2012 World of Concrete was my sixth visit to the concrete industry's largest gathering of contractors, equipment and product manufacturers, and industry experts and educators. There is a lot to soak up at the show — new products, manufacturer news and job story ideas from contractors just to name a few. Here are five things I learned at the show that I would like to share with you.
- Asphalt paving no longer has a cost advantage over concrete. According to a new report by Portland Cement Association Chief Economist Ed Sullivan, "Paving, The New Realities," concrete beats asphalt on both initial bid and life-cycle costs. Due to several factors, however, DOTs are not taking advantage of this cost savings. The concrete industry needs to work together to encourage transportation decision makers to look beyond the status quo when making decisions about roadbuilding materials.
- Create a contact for yourself in your smartphone. This networking tip offers you a quick and easy way to share your contact information with a potential client. Simply create a contact for yourself in your smartphone, including company name, phone number and email address. You can then share this contact with people you meet and they can receive it in a format that is easy for them to save in their smartphones.
- "It's nice to be important, but it's important to be nice." I heard this sage advice from a convention-goer. Remember it, because it pertains to anything you might do in life.
- Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. Study up on indoor air quality and help your clients — whether they be homeowners, public entities or commercial building owners — understand how they can improve indoor air quality. From a concrete perspective that might include providing information about right-sizing an HVAC system in an insulated concrete structure, or eliminating carpet and tile glues and mastics by installing decorative concrete as a flooring option.
- Contractors are feeling optimistic about 2012. Every contractor I spoke to at the show said his or her business is improving. Maybe it's an increase in construction activity, maybe it's the result of other contractors in their market closing doors. Either way, it is encouraging news for the readers of Concrete Contractor magazine.