The Cast Stone Institute has started a certification program for its members. For more on this effort at Sun Precast, turn to p. 22.

My daughter is discovering that you can't hide from math. She tried to beat the system by enrolling in a statistics class this summer at our local junior college, rather than enduring it during her university's fall semester. I tried to warn her: Math is hard no matter the location.

And now we are hardly speaking. She blames me for the course's difficulty. It's suddenly my fault that her summer spare time is now dedicated to the science of statistics.

Despite the family turmoil her enrollment has caused, I'm proud my daughter is persevering. She will eventually appreciate the importance of good statistics. I hope this lesson helps her understand how math affects her life choices.

My daughter isn't alone in this quest for numerical knowledge. In the last few months, we have experienced the consequences of misunderstood math.

Some experts suggest our rough economic period began when many thousands of former homeowners didn't take the time to understand the math supporting their seemingly free loans. Their lack of math basics, along with loan officers' belief that a little greed can't be bad, contributed to the loan failure crises.

For us managers, getting a handle on the math describing the residential market is just as difficult. A fair percentage of these problem homes were built on speculation. A plant manager told me that one of his dispatchers had owned three homes. Now he's down to one. In a short time, this excess inventory will be bought up.

Another real fact is that our population continues to grow at a steady rate. Sooner rather than later, the demand will start the recovery. There are several areas of the country where the housing market has posted steady gains. In fact, there was a report that perhaps housing starts are on the rise. (Read Concrete Returns on p. 20 for more.)

With all of these economic factors, some producers may decide it's a bad time to invest. I understand there are many areas where trucks are parked, plants running at half capacity, and commercial work drying up.

But here's the real math. Most experts suggest that things will turn around swiftly in the middle of 2010. If the average new plant design process takes about 12 to 18 months, a new plant would start up in the first quarter of 2010, just when most experts believe business will bounce back.

Now is the time to prepare. That's one reason why I am proud to highlight the certification effort conducted by the Cast Stone Institute on p. 22. This group of producers has volunteered to invest in their businesses to meet the demands of their customers. Architects' acceptance of their effort shows that no matter the size of the operation, the investment pays in more business.