Special to the Business Press
Looking for concrete evidence that the economy is improving and the construction industry is on the rise? Euless-based U.S. Concrete Inc. can attest to that in hard numbers. In its second-quarter report for 2013, the company’s adjusted earnings were $17 million, compared with $8.7 million in the second quarter of 2012. Overall revenue in the second quarter this year increased 17.6 percent to $162.5 million, compared with $138.2 million in the second quarter of 2012. U.S. Concrete produces ready-mix concrete and precast concrete products. The firm, which trades over the NASDAQ under the USCR symbol, owns Redi-Mix. The company recently announced that it has acquired three new plants in the Rockwall area to grow its concrete supply operation. The company’s brighter outlook follows its move last year from Houston to Euless and the improving economic conditions for new construction. “Volumes were severely depressed during the recession,” said William J. Sandbrook, president and CEO of U.S. Concrete. “As construction in the residential, commercial and infrastructure segments have gradually improved over the past two years the demand for concrete has increased accordingly.” U.S. Concrete’s corporate relocation to Euless, where its Redi-Mix regional headquarters were already situated, made good business sense, Sandbrook said. “We had no operations in the Houston area and a sizable presence in the Metroplex,” he said. “It made sense to co-locate with a regional headquarters to align the corporate staff with our operational mission.” Besides improving efficiency, the move eliminated the cost of corporate office space in Houston. At the time of the move, U.S. Concrete employed 250 people in Euless and 46 in Houston. Euless city officials enthusiastically supported the move. “Redi-Mix has been a crucial business partner with Euless for many years and we are happy to see them expand,” Euless City Manager Gary McKamie said in a statement when the move was announced. Texas is the firm’s largest market and accounted for 41 percent of U.S. Concrete’s revenue of $531 million in 2012, according to its 2012 annual report. Nearly 90 percent of its revenue came from ready-mixed concrete operations. Besides Texas, the firm’s ready-mixed operations are primarily in California and the New York/New Jersey area. Ready-mixed concrete is produced at plants in those states as well as in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C. Precast concrete products are produced at a plant in Pennsylvania. Last year U.S. Concrete operated 101 fixed and 11 portable ready-mixed concrete plants and seven aggregates facilities that produced 4.8 million cubic yards of ready-mixed concrete and 3.3 million tons of aggregates, according to its annual report. Texas led the country in ready-mix concrete production last year, with more than 46 million cubic yards produced. That accounted for 16 percent of all ready-mixed concrete produced in the United States and was an increase of 20.8 percent from 2011, company officials said. The second largest producer of ready-mixed concrete was California, with 27 million cubic yards produced. U.S. Concrete officials said the firm distinguishes itself in the market with its environmentally friendly EF Technology initiative, which uses alternative materials and mix formulas to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve air quality. The company has supplied concrete for some significant green building projects, including the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the San Francisco Public Utilities headquarters, One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower) in New York City, the Phoenix Sky Train in Phoenix, Ariz., and the Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas. U.S. Concrete has received several awards and recognitions for its eco-friendly contributions.
Why does concrete crack? The two most likely reasons are:
1. The concrete was poured much too wet, leading to excessive shrinkage as it cured. Contractors often add a lot of water to the mix to make it easier to pour it out of the truck. When the concrete cures, it loses water and shrinks a bit. Too much added water leads to a high water-to-cement ratio and therefore a lot of cracking, typically within a couple of days of the pour.
2. There were not enough crack control joints or they were improperly installed. These are the joints that are either tooled in while the concrete is wet or sawed in as soon as possible after the concrete sets. They are designed to control random cracking. Source: www.concrete.com