Market Intelligence

Competitive Materials Show Price Declines in August

PPI Graph for 9-21-15 Framed

In August, the Producer Price Index (PPI) for steel, lumber, concrete, and asphalt each saw month-over-month declines, according to data recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is likely that sustained low oil prices, diminishing global demand, and the strong dollar have had a dampening effect on prices. The strong dollar also makes imports relatively cheaper, adding downward price pressure across the board.

The rate of decline in the steel PPI appears to be softening. With the drop in energy prices and continued concern over the cooling Chinese economy, concrete has lost significant relative competitive price position during the past year; however, concrete still maintains its relative price advantage from 2002.

Historically, the asphalt price movement has correlated with that of crude oil after roughly a three to six month lag. While there is still a relationship between the two, the correlation isn’t nearly as strong. West Texas Intermediate spot prices are about 60 percent lower than their 2014 peak, whereas asphalt has declined just 4.5 percent. High coking capacity and historically low asphalt supply appeared to have shielded asphalt from large downward price movement. 

Lumber prices have been relatively flat for the previous few months. The lack of consistent and robust housing starts growth has allowed price levels to remain subdued. Additionally, large quantities of lumber infected by the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic have made its way to the market. Once thought unusable, there appears to be some utility for it, especially given its reduced cost. The value of the dollar relative to Canada’s seems to add further pressure on keeping lumber’s price low. 

Contact Joe Chiappe


RCC Rescues Failed South Carolina Truck Route

RCC_SC_FramedIn 1974, when the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) built the J.A. Cochran Bypass in an undeveloped area around Chester, South Carolina, minimal traffic used the route. Today, the bypass serves as a major truck route shortcut between two interstates and connects to Chester’s main shopping area, which makes it the second busiest road in Chester County.

The original asphalt pavement was never designed for this loading and has been overlaid multiple times during the years, to the point that the curb was nearly covered. Despite the extra thickness, the pavement cracked through, and became a maintenance issue for the local SCDOT office.

To solve this problem economically and with minimum disruption, the SCDOT turned to roller-compacted concrete (RCC). RCC provided the deep strength necessary to handle future traffic and allowed SCDOT to uncover the filled-in curb and restore its water-carrying capability.

Overall, the five-lane, 1,800-foot long project was completed in approximately two weeks. The RCC portion required three days, and the asphalt/other miscellaneous work took five days.

During the last seven years, SCDOT has performed more than 600,000 square yards of RCC on more than 20 projects throughout the state.

Read the Spotlight on the PCA website.

Contact Roger Faulkner

Sustainable Development

Call for Abstracts: 2016 International Concrete Sustainability Conference

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) is seeking abstracts for the 2016 International Concrete Sustainability Conference (2016 ICSC), scheduled for May 15-18, 2016, in Washington, DC. Engineers, architects, public works officials, material suppliers, researchers, academics, students, contractors, and concrete industry professionals are invited to share their research, experiences and accomplishments in advancing sustainable concrete design, manufacturing, and construction by submitting abstracts.

The 11th annual ICSC will feature numerous presentations on the latest innovations in concrete sustainability. Abstracts are encouraged on topics ranging from resilience and low-impact development to life cycle assessment and material science to corporate social responsibility. Accepted abstracts, both papers and presentations, will be published online.

For the first time, the International SCC Conference and the ICSC will be co-located. Primary sponsors, Missouri S&T and NRMCA, hope that combining these important conferences will provide learning and networking opportunities on the latest advances, technical knowledge, continuing research, tools and solutions for self-consolidating concrete (SCC) and sustainable concrete manufacturing, design, and construction.

Submit abstracts online at by Friday, October 30, 2015.

Contact Mark Justman


Strait Earns LEED Green Associate Certification

LStrait_FramedLizette Strait, PCA Northeast Region marketing assistant, recently passed the LEED Green Associate Examination, earning the Green Associate Accreditation. Passing the LEED Green Associate Exam confers official recognition that an individual possesses a strong knowledge of green structures.

Strait represents the PCA Northeast Region Membership at the Urban Green Council which is the New York City Chapter of the PCA Northeast Region Marketing Assistant. She also attends the Upstate New York U.S. Green Building Chapter’s many functions and seminars.

Contact Pat Reardon

Regional News

Town of Moreau Repeats as FDR Cement Customer


Selfridge Road in Moreau, New York, is a much better drive thanks to full-depth reclamation with cement (FDR).

The road encountered a myriad of problems throughout the years with numerous complaints of ride quality until a New York transportation decision maker attended a PCA Northeast Region FDR informational lunch and seminar last March.

After attending a full-depth reclamation with cement (FDR) seminar and luncheon hosted by Heather Steffek, PCA Northeast Region road recycling specialist, and Dick Martin, PCA Northeast Region pavement recycling specialist, New York Highway Superintendent Paul Joseph was convinced to try the process on Selfridge Road.

In July of 2014, Joseph contracted with Reclamation LLC to upgrade roughly 2,000 feet of Selfridge Road using the FDR process. In 2015, Reclamation LLC reclaimed and stabilized 3,500 feet of another section. In total, Selfridge Road has about 315 tons of cement stabilizing its base, with more anticipated next year.

“We initially had soft spots on the section we did last year. However, after it had cured, we couldn’t even drive centerline spikes into the base,” Joseph said. “We had sections that normally move a lot over the winter, but last winter, which was especially cold, we only had one spot move.”

See PCA website for more FDR case histories.

Contact Pat Reardon

Education and Training

PCA Offers Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures Course

PCA’s publication Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures is the foundation for a concrete industry course offered October 5-8, 2015 on the PCA campus.

The course reflects the latest advances in concrete technology. Covered will be materials, properties of concrete, mix design, placement, and testing. It is especially useful for concrete industry personnel who need fundamental yet practical concrete knowledge and combines classroom instruction, lab demonstrations, and hands-on training to help employees meet customer needs.

For more information, go to the PCA website.

Contact Michelle Wilson

Industry News

Most Innovative Products Awards 2016: Call for Entries

MIPlogoFINAL (2)_framedEach year, World of Concrete exhibitors submit their products to Concrete Construction Most Innovative Product Award Program. This is the only annual award program honoring innovative new products designed for all segments of the concrete and masonry industries.

The annual event showcases to WOC attendees and readers of the official show magazines the best new products that will be exhibited at WOC 2016. Entries accepted into the award program receive extensive exposure to show attendees and to more than 100,000 readers of the official show magazines. Products nominated are voted on by the magazine audiences and by World of Concrete attendees to determine an Industry Choice in each product category. Product nominations are also reviewed by the Hanley Wood editorial staff and an invited group to receive an Experts’ Choice Award or an Editors’ Choice award.

View the 2015 MIP Winners and Finalists

Final date for entering is December 14, 2015. Click here for entry information.

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