Aggregate Industry More Optimistic, But Still Poised For Consolidation

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By Chris Hopkins, Senior Vice President, Aggregates and Mining, The Saint Consulting Group

More than 130,000 members of the construction, aggregate and asphalt industries converged on the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Encore Hotel for the tri-annual Con Expo-Con/Agg Convention in March. The convention is a coming together of several different sub industries, each related to the other. This year’s noted speaker was Steve Forbes, managing editor of Forbes magazine and former presidential candidate.

The mood at this convention was far more optimistic and upbeat than in recent gatherings. Most in attendance believe that the worst is over and recovery for the industry has begun.

All that said, there is still belief that the aggregates industry is poised for more consolidation with the major players still selling off assets to more regional family-owned companies that were not as exposed during the recession. Everyone is hoping that when the NSSGA reconvenes in Charlotte in 2012, there will be even better news on the horizon.

But at the Las Vegas convention, the 2,000 exhibition booths encompassed all of the 3.2 million square feet of the convention center as well as four outside parking areas that were used to display the latest equipment and technological advances in the industry. Every major corporation, material company, companies that service the materials industry or companies that receive the materials, participated.

Con Expo is also an opportunity to become up-to-date with the newest information that the industry has to offer. There were more than 125 educational sessions offered at the convention with topics as diverse as changes to OSHA rules to “Fleet Equipment Strategies.”

On Wednesday, March 23, Saint Consulting presented a 90-minute CEU accredited session on “Overcoming Community Opposition.”  There were more than 100 industry professionals in attendance from nearly every one of the United States and Europe. Those who attended represented international aggregate companies, regional aggregate companies from around the country, the European Aggregate Association and municipal governments. There was a lot of interaction and give-and-take as we discussed the opposition that a quarry application typically faces in the age of NIMBY’s.

Each evening there was one form of reception or another that brought attendees together in a more light-hearted social atmosphere including the highly successful ROCKPAC’ n ROLL fundraising reception on Wednesday evening, which was capped off by a raffle drawing for a brand new Mercedes Benz.

The week concluded with the annual NSSGA Awards Breakfast. Recognition was given to members for their extraordinary commitment to safety, for their superior performance as environmenetal stewards and for their community involvement and support activitites that have enhanced the image of the aggregates industry during 2009-2010.

The breakfast culminated with an address by Forbes who spoke on “Navigating the Current Economy for Business Growth and Success.”

It was a grand week of making deals, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. A good time seemed to be had by all, but of course, what happens in Vegas…

Chris Hopkins is senior vice president, Aggregates and Mining for The Saint Consulting Group, email, phone 615-656 3794.

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