Business is Great in the Northwest

The land of gourmet coffee, airplanes, and personal computers is treating concrete producers quite nicely. While the Seattle region is not experiencing the explosive growth of other Western cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas, the future looks bright for producers.

Things are especially looking up in Everett, 20 miles north of Seattle and the home of Boeing's sprawling manufacturing facility. “Everything is in an upward trend,” said Dave Mullins, concrete manager for Rinker Materials, the largest producer in Snohomish County. “This county is very bullish on Boeing.”

With good reason. After a lull for several years, Boeing pulled in almost 500 orders for new aircraft the first six months of 2006. This and more to come will keep Boeing's facilities here and in Renton, just south of Seattle, humming well into the next decade.

Rinker and other producers benefit not from Boeing as much as from the suppliers that serve it. For instance, Rinker will be pouring concrete for a new 100,000-square-foot tilt-up building for B.F. Goodrich soon.

This area north of Seattle also will benefit from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., 120 miles north. Interstate 5 and other routes motorists will travel to attend the games will be widened. “We think business is going to be good for the next decade,” said Mullins.

Business also is favorable in Seattle. “There are a lot of projects in the pipeline,” said Greg Mettler, assistant sales manager for concrete, building materials, and sand and gravel for Glacier Northwest. “The commercial segment of the market has picked up significantly.”

Paul Allen's Vulcan Inc. is redeveloping more than 60 acres in the city's South Lake Union neighborhood near downtown. Concrete here is being poured for new restaurants, hotels, offices, schools, and streets.

In the suburb of Bellevue, another development was to consist of one large condominium building, followed by an office tower. The first condo sold out so fast, a second is being built even before the office building.

The 43-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct, which was damaged in an earthquake five years ago, will be rebuilt. Some want to replace the 2.2-mile downtown bridge with a new span, while others favor a $5 billion tunnel. “Either way, it will be a lot of concrete,” said Mettler.

Concrete Safety on the Web

A new page on OSHA's Web site provides web-based assistance for concrete industry employers and employees. The federal agency's newest Safety and Health Topics page is a result of OSHA's partnership with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. Visitors can access information to develop and implement safety and health programs, including several examples from construction and manufacturing. Visit www.osha.gov.