Steve Parker looked relieved when I last saw him earlier this month at the ASTM meeting in Tampa, Fla. The chairman of ASTM C09.40, Ready-Mixed Concrete, was walking away from his last committee meeting. He looked like someone who just had the weight of world lifted from his shoulders.

For about 10 years (and 20 meetings), Parker has focused much of his professional life on about 21,200 words of text that defines how ready-mixed concrete is manufactured and delivered to a customer in its freshly mixed and non-hardened state. These words outline the basis of the ready-mixed concrete industry's contractual obligations.

Parker's ASTM C09.40 committee monitored four documents that are referenced in contract specifications every day. They are:

The committee's task is to review these standards for accuracy at least every five years and to ensure they reflect current best practices. As our industry sees new technologies, procedures, or practices, the committee chairman also establishes work groups to help develop proposed explanations and guidelines to eventually include them in the applicable document. Parker leaves the new chairman five active work groups that are working diligently to add more to the committee's work and scope.

After talking regularly with Parker about his committee, I've come to respect his fairness in dealing with all aspects of our industry. He made sure that all producers' interests were well-served, regardless of their size. And just as important, Parker made sure that our industry's customers are assured of a quality product when a producer states it meets the C94 standard.

With every change there comes an opportunity, but I see Parker's departure as a foreboding sign. There are a number of us older folks who are involved in ASTM, and before too long we will need to move on. Thus, there's a need to recruit more new blood for this important committee.

We need to have more producers involved. The committee is discussing important topics, such as how to handle performance-based specifications and top-loading. Involvement is more than an opportunity: Growing our industry is a responsibility. It's easy to sign up. Just visit the ASTM Web site at www.astm.org and follow the prompts.

Parker's not quite finished with his responsibilities. In a moment of weakness, he agreed to write an article for us summarizing his observations of how much the industry has changed the past decade. I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.