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Earl Kessler, director of technical services for Indianapolis-based Irving Materials Inc., "has played an important role in improving overall concrete quality, so much so that the Kentucky Department of Transportation has recently been specifying concrete as the preferred building material for both new construction and repair of the state's highways," says Jim Deters, president of the Kentucky Ready Mixed Concrete Association (KRMCA).

Perhaps it's because of his troubleshooting experience that Kessler has been so active in fostering a statewide emphasis on improving quality control from all partners in the construction process. As chairman of KRMCA's Quality and Specifications Committee, Kessler helped develop the current 7-day training course for plant operator certification. Now, only plants with certified operators are allowed to supply concrete for state work.

Kessler used both his committee and company research to devise some of the most challenging mix designs the industry has ever provided.