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Hycrete, whose CEO met with President Obama, manufactures concrete admixtures builders use for sustainable structures.

One July morning as I was on the treadmill, I took a double-look at the television on the wall in the exercise room. I thought I recognized someone on the screen. A person from our industry was on a national news channel. And he was standing near the President of the United States.

I first met David Rosenberg, president and CEO of Hycrete Inc., several years ago at a Strategic Development Council (SDC) meeting in St. Louis. SDC is an ACI group that meets twice a year. Its primary goal is to create a setting at which key corporate leaders meet to help push through innovations. Our hope is to reduce the time of implementation from 13 years to something less than four years through partnering.

I believe St. Louis was Rosenberg's first meeting. I heard him offer his vision of how to change the concrete construction industry several times. His goal was to convince people to view concrete as an environmentally friendly material. And he expressed this just before the current surge of interest in LEED and green building.

Talk about a committed person. So I wasn't too surprised when I saw him on television with a group of eight CEOs of clean technology-focused companies invited to participate in a roundtable hosted by President Barack Obama. The group discussed the economic impact of green technologies.

The leaders opened the discussion with examples of how their firms are contributing to innovation and economic growth in hard economic times. They suggested steps the federal government can take to help adopt new technologies, create jobs, and establish U.S. leadership in CleanTech, a new initiative the White House is pushing.

After the meeting, Obama gave a brief press conference during which he called the participating firms “some of the most innovative energy companies in America.” I was encouraged when he said these industries represent “a big piece of America's economic future.”

And then the leader of the free world mentioned us: “When you hear the innovation that's taking place … [including] new concrete materials that last longer and are waterproofed from the inside out, and that can mean that bridges and roads and buildings can last 20 or 30 years longer than using conventional concrete, that gets you excited.”

I realize that our report in this issue on the state of the industry offers a less-than stellar picture. It highlights how we are facing challenging economic times. But with folks like Rosenberg, we have an opportunity for growth and impact never seen before.

Our firms will return to the market lean, prepared, and refreshed. We will offer products with an environmental message the design community is finally listening to. And just as important, the nation needs us.

Rosenberg offered a great vision that day, saying, “We are proud of our efforts to bring value to the economy and to help increase federal stimulus impact by reducing building and maintenance costs and accelerating construction schedules for public projects.”

Knowing Rosenberg as I do, I know he was referring to our industry's collective effort. This spirit of change and forward thinking will be the catalyst for the quick return of our industry's success.

Editor in Chief

ryelton@hanleywood.com